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No Gimmicks? Cinder Road ignite a rock comeback

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Cinder Road
w/ Candlebox
Wed. July 18
8 p.m.
$20
The Plex
2390 W. Aviation Ave.
225-PLEX
www.theplexonline.com
www.candleboxrocks.com
www.cinderroadmusic.com

“Get In Get Out” (from the album SuperHuman)
Audio

"We've always been a live band," says singer/guitarist Mike Ruocco, of Maryland-based rock quintet Cinder Road. He and his gang recently finished a three-month tour supporting ex-American Idol bad boy Daughtry. Last week, they embarked on the month-long jaunt with Seattle alternative/post-grunge rockers Candlebox, who are back at it after a seven-year hiatus.

"We were fortunate enough to work with producer Marti Frederiksen on this new record," says Ruocco of their studio album, SuperHuman. "He and I just hit it off as friends and as writers. We sat down and wrote the whole album. He knew where I wanted to go with it, which was really to make an old-school rock 'n' roll record.

"The studio was never our forte, but Marti was really able to capture that live sound on tape," he adds. "Some bands go in for a really long session, layer 10 guitar parts, sample all the drums, and do 20 vocal tracks ... with us, it just sounded good with two guitars, bass, and drums. We tried not to overthink anything on this record."

Cinder Road are still young rookies, but their ambitious ideas are grand. They formed in 2005 when guitarists Chris Shucosky and Pat Patrick, drummer Mac Calveresi, and bassist Nat Doegen joined Ruocco in their hometown of Lutherville, Md. Through the buzz at the band's agency, the Union Entertainment Group (home to Nickelback), they landed a record deal with EMI in 2006.

The band's blend of classic and contemporary is evident on SuperHuman — from the riffy, Thin Lizzy-meets-Aerosmith chug of "I'm So Sorry" and radio single "Get In Get Out" to the Goo Goo Dolls-style ballad of "Back Home" and the driving alt/pop/punk kick of "Should Have Known Better." It's glossy but edgy: ready for commercial rock radio, but devoid of some of the slicker, goofier trappings of so many generic, major label modern rock acts.

"People make fun of '80s hair bands now, which I would never do," chuckles Ruocco, "but go to a party where they're listening to some hip-hop or active rock on the jukebox or whatever — watch that thing light up when a Bon Jovi or Def Leppard tune pops up. The place goes nuts. We're trying to get that reaction with our whole thing. For whatever reason, rock music in general kind of hit a lull over the last few years. But it's definitely making a comeback in recent years, with bands like Nickelback and Hinder. They're really kind of bringing back no-gimmicks rock."

Nickelback and Hinder? Def Leppard and Bon Jovi? Big talk like that could lead to derision from a jaded rock critic.

"Shame on anyone who feels that way," responds Ruocco. "To dis music before you give it an opportunity is ignorant. A lot of people like to hate on Nickelback, but the bottom line is Nickelback is one of the only reasons why rock records have been selling over the last five years or so. Anyone who dismisses a band who wants success is either jealous or ignorant. Who can hate on someone for wanting to spread their craft to the masses?"

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