When a band names itself Art of Anarchy, it is obviously looking to cause a commotion in the music scene. But the confusion that occurred when the act introduced itself to the public in January 2015 probably wasn’t the kind of chaos it had in mind.
The late Scott Weiland, famed for fronting alt-rock icons Stone Temple Pilots, had recorded vocals for the quintet’s self-titled debut album and filmed a video for the track “’Til the Dust Is Gone” with Thal, guitarist Jon Votta, drummer Vince Votta and bassist John Moyer (Disturbed). But when a press release announced that Weiland was a member of the group, he disavowed his involvement. Weiland told Billboard at Sundance 2015, “I was never in the band. It was something I did when I wasn’t doing anything.”
Although Thal responded in a statement to Rolling Stone saying that “Scott is currently the singer of the band. It’s in writing; no confusion,” the album released in May 2015 was the last affiliation Weiland had with the band. (He died Dec. 3, 2015, of an accidental drug overdose; he had been on the road with Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts and his body was discovered in his tour bus.) Art of Anarchy kept moving forward though. In May 2016, Creed singer Scott Stapp announced that he was now fronting the band.
“After Scott Weiland distanced himself from Art of Anarchy and the 2015 album was released, we started exploring new vocalists to move forward with,” explains Thal. “We met with Scott Stapp in August 2015, spent a few hours in a rehearsal room jamming on spontaneous ideas, grabbed dinner and talked about the future. The timing was right: We were looking for a singer; Scott was looking for a band.”
Making a fresh start with Stapp, the group spent a few weeks in New York that fall writing daily and recording ideas. “We wrote together as a band and made sure that everyone’s identity can be heard,” says Thal. “All the bands that inspired me have that — you can hear each member’s personality, a combination of ingredients that happens only once in all time — that realness, authenticity. That’s very important to me: to be genuine.” He describes the act’s sound as “melodic hard rock, with our own personalities mixed together. Jon and Vince are true metal guys, Scott is radio rock, John makes it all groove, and I’m too artsy for my own good,” he laughs.
After taking care of touring commitments separate from Art of Anarchy, the members reunited and began tracking at the end of 2015, with recording continuing through 2016. Its next album is expected to arrive in spring 2017. Meanwhile, Billboard has the exclusive premiere of the video for Art of Anarchy’s new single “The Madness.” The clip was directed by Dan Catullo, who set a Guinness World Record for using the most cameras (239) to record a live concert when he helmed the 2009 DVD Creed: Live.
“Dan puts 110 percent in his work,” says Stapp. “I thought he would be a great fit for our first video. He really understood the concept of the meaning of madness in a way that only someone who had experienced similar situations could understand. This video really gave the band its first taste of a live performance.”
Watch the video below:
Thal says “The Madness” is one of the first songs the re-formed band wrote together. “Guitar-wise, it called for a theme that would feel a bit like a voice from a dark place, like a devil on your shoulder that keeps repeating itself. The lyrics describe personal challenges Scott overcame, giving a glimpse through his eyes as he describes the visuals and duality pulling you between ‘the madness,’ or the other side.”
Stapp’s soaring power vocals on the metal-inflected track are a radical change from those heard on “’Til the Dust Is Gone,” where Weiland channeled the drowsy groove that was his trademark. Thal calls Stapp’s voice “very identifiable. His approach to melodies often opens new doors when writing songs. The first album had an ‘anything goes’ energy. Now, with Scott, we’ve taken a path of more structure in the songwriting.”
Art of Anarchy will play its first-ever live show at New York’s Gramercy Theatre on Oct. 27. For tickets, go here.