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HOME TOWN: Vancouver, BC
Johnny Philippon - Drums
Jesse Wainwright - Guitar
Cameron Melnyk - Vocals
Simon "Kadooh" Clow - Guitar
Alison Toews - Bass
State Of Shock's boisterous brand of straight ahead rock has made them one of Canada's most popular rock bands. The Vancouver fivesome has made all their own breaks, packing a no-frills rock arsenal that has seen them knock down all doors despite the odds, propelled by an irresistible hit single, the soaring # 1 Canadian hit "Money Honey." Today, the tight-knit group finds themselves perfectly poised for their first taste of American success thanks to their Universal Republic debut, Life, Love & Lies. Their power rock smash single has already hit #1 on Sirius Satellite radio's influential charts after taking off across the border as one of the biggest Canadian rock anthems of the past several years.
The catchy "Money Honey" has been nothing short of a rock phenomenon: Already certified platinum in Canada, it has lodged near-permanent Top 10 status at multiple Canadian radio formats, including Rock, CHR, and Hot AC – netting the hard-working band three Canadian Radio Awards, including Best New Group, Best New Group at the CHR format, and the Canadian 2008 'Indie' Award for Favorite Single Of The Year, beating out standout artists such as Arcade Fire and Feist. "Money Honey" also held down the #1 post on the Canadian all formats Radio Chart for two months, spending close to a year on the Canadian Billboard Hot 100 singles Chart. Culled from their 2007 epic, Life, Love & Lies, (released in Canada on Cordova Bay Records), the group's relentless touring regimen provided them with a loyal fan base who now follows their every move whether live or online. "We love our fans for believing in us," says Drummer Johnny Philippon. "Our philosophy from the start has been to nurture that support and also to believe in ourselves. We were more than confident in our music and just said, 'If anyone ever gives us a chance, good things will happen.'"
But by no means was it an easy ride. Guitarist Jesse Wainwright, Vocalist Cameron Melnyk, and Drummer Johnny Philippon formed the nucleus of their music making (in one form or another) since the late 1990s. "We all go back a ways," says Cameron. "Jesse and I have been playing in bands together since we were kids. So even though we all have different influences, there is a trust level when it comes to adding elements to the music that brings it all together." The boys all cut their live-performance teeth early on playing at local recreation centers. Band names and lineups might have changed, but the friends also found time to mix it up in local hockey play, as well. "It's true about Canada, growing up you're either playing in a band or playing hockey. We knew we weren't fodder for the NHL, so here we are," jokes Cameron. Still, there were other bumps in the road. Cameron left the rock n'roll life for his own stint in college, but returned to his musical past. His former bandmates welcomed him back by handing over the lead vocal reins to the effusive singer. Thus State of Shock was born. "The return was accidental, in a way. I had gone to one of their shows, but just as a fan. Next thing I know Jesse calls me up and asked me to come into the studio with them. But I was itching to go. There was one particular song I knew I just had to sing. Even practiced it in my dad's office before I went in to the studio and gave it a try."
In 2003 the guys put an ad in the local paper for a bassist. Disappointed in the response, they created another ad, but this time for a female bass player. "Alison Toews was the first one that answered," recalls Guitarist and songwriter Jesse Wainwright. "We just liked her spirit, and how well we all seem to click from the start." The addition of Guitarist Simon Clow would eventually complete the SOS lineup.
Recognition from the Canadian rock scene also started to create some momentum. In 2004 the band won an influential Canadian Radio contest which garnered them significant live exposure in Western Canada. Two years of non-stop touring followed – the band-in-a-van variety - where the group lived off the fat (or lean) of the Canadian rock landscape while they honed both their live playing and songwriting skills. The undeniable State of Shock chemistry really began to blossom during their lively songwriting process. "We have always enjoyed working as one. Creating something out of nothing," says Cameron. "We write about real things that happen to us. We're family and friends but we are also survivors, so we know what stories to tell." Cameron points to the members' broad musical passions – 'Jesse loves his country and Guns N' Roses/Johnny his Top 40/I like a little bit of everything: Beatles, Black Crowes, Jeff Buckley…,' and surmises that the eclectic connection between them and the other SOS members – Simon and Alison - 'all fuses together to create that certain 'something' in the end.' Adds Johnny: "Bands write, record, tour and all of that, but once that whole thing is done, we'll all sit down and write again. We always have notepads kicking around and we're always writing down ideas, so the juices are always flowing."
Those 'creative juices' are what kept all the members' spirits up through some of the harder times that a rock band experiences. Their never-say-die attitude also landed them two rock production Aces to help guide the making of their 2007 breakthrough album Life, Love & Lies: Canadian producer Jeff Dawson (Tal Bachman), and noted rock mixer/engineer Mike Fraser (ACDC/Metallica). Dawson's pop insight melded perfectly with Fraser's crackling rock instincts, fitting State Of Shock's crisp, trademark sound like a glove. "We scraped together whatever we could through friends and family to fund the album ourselves," says Johnny. "Jeff and Mike were both able to capture the raw enthusiasm we have for this music." Lightning in a bottle is how many rock critics have viewed the runaway success of "Money Honey," which has set the stage for an impressive array of achievements in 2008 that rivals many of Canada's hit-making veterans.
Some of that good fortune included opening up for rock giants such as Aerosmith at a concert in Sarnia, Ontario last year, and landing the opening slot of Nickelback's sold-out Canadian summer tour. Their second single released in Canada, the searing anthem, "Hearts That Bleed," also became a multi-format smash, reflecting the disc's depth and burgeoning international appeal. Life, Love & Lies' ability to capture the spectrum of solid, straight-ahead rock flavorings while maintaining the formidable State Of Shock sound is a testament to the band's open-ended approach to songwriting.
Cameron points to the gut wrenching ballad "Different Day," as a song that best reflects the group's intricate sparring both as songwriters and as storytellers. "You can break that song down and see it very clearly. It means a lot to all of us, the story behind it as well as the overall 'feeling' our fans seem to take away from that one." Another ballad, the soaring "Best I Ever Had," also displays the group's ability to evoke emotional highs and lows.
Right now, however, it's the sonically charged "Money Honey," that has tongues beginning to wag in the U.S. Its no-holds barred approach exemplifies State Of Shock's uncanny ability to 'nail' that elusive 'classic rock' sound. "It's funny but that's one of the last songs we wrote for the album" says Cameron. "It was one of those things that was just a fun ride from start to finish."