Violent New Breed Establishing Their (Bad) Reputation
If Three Days Grace and Trivium had a badass love child, it would be Violent New Breed (VNB for short). Led by founding member Max Green (former Escape the Fate, and briefly, Falling in Reverse), VNB combines gritty vocals, intense metal riffs, and blow your speakers-out breakdowns to create a rock album worthy of your attention. Rounded out by new additions Sean Russell (vocals, guitar), Charlie Nicholson (drums), and Shawn McGhee (guitar), VNB released their first full-length album, Bad Reputation, in October 2019 and recently announced a west coast headlining tour that kicks off here in Vegas on March 28.
We got the opportunity to bounce some questions off of McGhee (who also produced Bad Reputation in his very own Artistry Recording Studios), and the results are as humorous as they are informative.
SMASH MAGAZINE: Violent New Breed just announced their own headlining tour and you’ll be playing the same venue, Backstage Bar & Billiards, where you opened for Scary Kids Scaring Kids back in January. What’s it like coming back as the headliner and what’s going to be different about this performance?
SHAWN MCGHEE: Oh man, it’s gonna be great. We’ll get premium parking, cold bottled water, none of that room temperature shit AND I’m going to ask for more reverb on my vocals! Jk! Stoked about the parking though. I paid $13 dollars to park last time!!! Does that count as paying your dues? We are really excited that we are going to be able to play the full record for everyone. It’s going to be a great hang. People are definitely going to see more from Max. Stage Left was a little weak at the last show. He was detained the night before the Scary Kids show and we didn’t see him until soundcheck. Some chump tried to attack my boy down on the strip and Max pulled out his Vape and clocked the dude as if they were brass knuckles. I’ve never seen someone get so upset about breaking their vape on someone’s face.
SM: In addition to being a key member of VNB, you have also worked with some big name acts in metal on the production, editing, and engineering side, including In This Moment, Hellyeah, and Drowning Pool, to name a few. What has been your favorite project to date (excluding VNB)?
SMCG: Oh man, they’ve all been so fun. But I’d have to say I have two equally favorite projects besides VNB. Tobin (Papa Roach) and I do a lot of writing for the UFC on ESPN. Last year we wrote the main theme song for the UFC. I love it because it’s fun writing high-energy music and then you send them your routing number, ChaChing! As far as a record, I’d have to say the one I am working on right now is my favorite. I’m co-writing and producing an album for Jeremy Spencer, ex-Five Finger Death Punch. The project is called Psychosexual. It’s 80’s New Wave meets dark, sexy, and really fucking heavy. A few of the songs will be featured in a couple movies and his Netflix series that is coming soon called “Lady Killer.” Jeremy is extremely talented and full of creativity. We have been having so much fun working together, we laugh our asses off the whole day and the music we are making is fucking killer!!!! I’m learning so much from that guy!
SM: You also produced Bad Reputation, the first full-length from VNB with its current lineup. What’s it like producing music for your own band versus working with other groups?
SMCG: It’s very different. I got to yell, kick and throw shit at my band when they messed up, and I didn’t feel bad for doing it either. That was probably the best part of the whole thing. Just kidding, that only happened once or twice… It was a lot of fun. We went in with a goal to make the first record more active rock. I would get an album sales report each week and for the last few years, it was always the same bands selling the most albums. Breaking Benjamin, Disturbed, 5FDP, Godsmack etc. I always look at who’s doing what, and how I can apply that to my current projects. So we chose to make a good solid active rock record in hopes to get some attention from the people that I know in the industry. A lot of bands start off heavy and then get more commercial from album to album. So we thought it would be really cool to start off more mainstream and then get heavier and heavier with the albums to come. We ended up getting a deal after we wrote the first two demos. Bad Reputation is a solid rock record. I just wish we had Charlie before we made it. That guy is a beast on the drums. He tunes his snare a little high for my taste. I tell him that I’m trying my best to get over it, but I’m really not. It makes me cringe.
SM: The band also landed rock idol Howard Jones (former Killswitch Engage) for the single “Bury Me.” How did that come about and what was he like to work with?
SMCG: That came from our label. The president of our label came to Vegas to listen to the record. He was tripping because we didn’t play him anything after we signed the deal. We made him wait 6 or 7 months before we showed him. We just didn’t want any outside influence or some suit telling us what to do. But Shan (SBG Records) is a badass. He heard “Bury Me” and immediately said, “I’m getting you Howard Jones” and we flipped out. Howard is a pro. He absolutely brought that song to a whole new level and got us to a million YouTube plays. I clicked because of Howard too! Hahaha. He is a really nice guy. I always expect these metal guys to be really scary, and you have to hide your lunch money and shit… but they are always really nice. Howard is a great human.
SM: Your studio, Artistry Recording Studio, is here in Vegas. Why did you decide to set-up shop here?
SMCG: Well, I’ve been here in Vegas for 12 years now. I’ve thought about moving to LA, New York, and Nashville but Vegas is my home and will always be my home. I wish I could work with more local bands here, but I never get out of the studio, so a lot of people probably don’t even know about me, and I don’t even know what bands are here. 90% of my clientele are from out of state. If you do good work, people will come to you. I’ve had a lot of success with that. So, my family and I decided to stay in Vegas where everything is open 24/7! My studio is in the dopest spot. It’s located on the South Strip right next to the Bootlegger Bistro and Studio 77.
SM: What are you most excited about as you set out on the road and what does the future hold for VNB?
SMCG: I’m really excited to go on tour and not have to smell my band members feet or assess. I’m making them all buy brand new socks and underwear. They have to throw them out after every show. I’m also really excited to go to LA and play a show with my buddy Monte Money and his band Beyond Unbroken. I just produced their new single “Enemy.” I didn’t mix it though. If I did, then the snare would be better…They are going to be on the bill for the Chain Reaction Show. Monte has always been my favorite member from the OG Escape the Fate. Max is alright, but Monte can shred! I’m also looking forward to meeting our fans and most of all I am really excited to get on stage and play guitar. For the last 7 years, the walls in my studio have been my biggest fans.
Violent New Breed kick-off their spring Fuck the World tour here in Vegas on March 28 at Backstage Bar & Billiards with support from ALURA and Sigil. If you’re ready to rock your face off to a non-smelly metal band, get your tickets at smashmagazine.com.