We’ve all heard the classic slogan “Cleveland Rocks”. While it may have been a TV sitcom’s introduction/theme song that made that slogan famous some years ago, it will be the metal band based in that fine city known as Affiance that will bring that slogan back and to heavy music reality. What Affiance will also bring back in the process is (and most importantly) what true rock and metal fans long for: melodic metal with soaring vocals and driving guitars.
The band consisting of Dennis Tvrdik (vocals), Brett Wondrak (guitar), Dominic Dickinson (guitar), Cameron Keeter (bass) and Patrick Galante (drums) have just released their sophomore album for Bullet Tooth Records entitled The Campaign and let us be the first to tell you, this one just raised the bar and future expectations in the heavy music world! Not only does the album feature vocal pleasantries and musical melodies from the glory days of old (something lost on most heavy albums of late), it stands every bit as modern and relevant as anything being spoon-fed to the younger music buying masses and dominating end caps at record stores nationwide.
RockRevolt™ was able to grab some time with Affiance’s vocalist and campaign nominee Dennis Tvrdik to talk about the album and the band’s platform to save true rock and metal. We won’t hide our allegiance here; we voted for Affiance in this year’s “campaign”!
Rick/RR: Dennis, thank you for checking in with RockRevolt™.
Dennis/Affiance: Thanks for having me, Rick!
Rick/RR: Here is the question everyone is dying to know before we get to the new album and all other things Affiance. Are you the real reason that Cleveland rocks? (Laughs)
Dennis/Affiance: No! Cleveland doesn’t need me to rock; it just needs people like me to get the word out about how awesome my hometown really is!
Rick/RR: With this being a major political campaign year, you actually ran a successful one yourself, running on the catchy platform of “Strong” to promote your latest full-length effort, The Campaign, which many metal fans seemed to buy into.
Dennis/Affiance: It definitely got some people’s attention. We understand how things work in this business. With us being on an independent label and self-managed, we have to come up with creative ways to promote ourselves. This one just so happened to have everything to do with the album title and the theme of the season!
Rick/RR: What type of feedback did you receive from this creative online ad campaign? It is pretty darn crafty and brilliant if you ask me, especially with the release date of 11.13.12 being just one week later!
Dennis/Affiance: The vast majority of people like it. It rubbed some people the wrong way and to be honest, I’m glad it did. I don’t expect every person to agree with us or be our fan. There are a lot of people out there I don’t want at our shows because they are a part of the problem with the music scene. We want to be part of the solution.
Rick/RR: I couldn’t agree more with your expanded campaign message that stated, “Melody once made metal strong and it will make it strong again”. This does make you a strong investment as you say as well! (Laughs)
Dennis/Affiance: We are just fed up with the same mediocre music paired with mediocre, heartless lyrics. What happened to the days when shredders and power vocalist were looked up to? What happened to musicianship and talent? It’s nice to see that a few very talented bands like Periphery and Memphis May Fire are starting to get the recognition they deserve. I really do believe that the next few years we will see talent chosen over image.
Dennis/Affiance: We chose that song to be the first music video off the album because we wanted to release it on Election Day. How fitting is it that we do a video about JFK assassination and how we may have been misled? “Kings of Deceit” simply is starting the album off by calling out the people who deceive us in an attempt to control our emotions. Also, it’s a dark and serious video and we need to balance out the fact that almost 700,000 people have seen me in my underwear playing Rock band on YouTube. (Laughs)
Rick/RR: I can say from being at the first show of your tour this fall in La Crosse, Wisconsin, that fans seemed to really take to the new material. In fact, they were really singing along and throwing it down to the previously released song from the new album “You Will Be Replaced”, which you teased fans with by issuing it earlier this summer prior to the album’s release later this fall. I’m sure that is gratifying to see that.
Dennis/Affiance: Most definitely! Even songs like “Kings of Deceit” or “Peace of Mind” which haven’t been out very long are getting great praise at shows. The biggest fear of playing new material is performing in front of a crowd that is just staring at you with a look of confusion. (Laughs)
Rick/RR: What type of feedback have you received since the album’s release to the new material and your approach in emphasizing the melody? I’m rooting for you as it is time to move beyond the cookie cutter heavy music we’ve been inundated with for the past several years.
Dennis/Affiance: Basically people are saying we have stepped it up multiple notches from No Secret Revealed and I couldn’t agree more. We wrote NSR three years ago, over a year before it was released, so there has been massive improvement in musicianship, song writing, and most importantly understanding who we are as a band. We are a modern metal/metalcore band focused on vocal melody.
Rick/RR: You also recorded a killer/updated version of the 80’s hit by Europe “Final Countdown”. First, how did you come to choose this particular song and secondly, why did you choose to only release it as a single on iTunes verses including it on the album?
Dennis/Affiance: We chose it because we could actually perform it live! We only want to cover songs that are older and almost everyone knows. We also want to showcase our talent by covering acts that only a few modern bands could pull off. We left it off the album because it’s so cheesy… (Laughs), it didn’t fit with the content of the album.
Rick/RR: As a music fan yourself, what bands or songs do you find yourself listening to when you get the chance?
Rick/RR: You have been tour warriors the past several years. What is the hard music circuit and scene like in your opinion overall?
Dennis/Affiance: It’s tough. I want to play theaters and stages that will actually project our style, but instead we play small clubs, basements and floor shows. They can be tons of fun, as long as you can ignore the low quality of sound… (Laughs) On top of that, money is always an issue. You think you have everything planned then BOOM, the van’s water pump busts – actually getting repaired as we do this interview! Especially coming out west, the dates are 8-10 hours apart and through mountains, it will kill your van. But we do it all for our fans, which is by far the best part of touring. Oh, and eating delicious foods from all over!
Rick/RR: What is the one question you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but never gets covered?
Dennis/Affiance: Singing. No one asks about what it’s like being a singer in a scream heavy scene and it kind of baffles me. It leads me to think that the reason why is because it’s not really respected anymore like it used to be. I never drink alcohol before a set; I drink tons of water and sometimes cannot speak for most of a day to preserve my voice so I can perform to the best of my abilities. I just don’t think it’s
appreciated as much as it should be. Front men/women are human instruments. If we get sick our instrument goes out of tune. I guess you would think a human instrument would be pretty interesting, but I could be biased.
Rick/RR: Dennis, it has been a pleasure. Now that The Campaign is complete and the fans have spoken, let the next four years bring melody and metal back to the masses via Affiance. I look forward to voting you back into office for another term in 2016!
Dennis/Affiance: Thanks so much for having me and the band Rick! Thank you for your vote and I am looking forward to it again at the next election! (Laughs)
~Rick Lindner, Journalist with RockRevolt™ Magazine
Links to Affiance Online:
“Kings of Deceit” feat: Dustin Davidson of August Burns Red:
“Strong” Campaign commercial: