To most people, the idea of starting something over from scratch might seem like a daunting task. But when that something is a rock band – a successful one with a gold record and a loyal following – the idea of starting over from scratch might seem downright unthinkable. To former Coal Chamber guitarist Miguel “Meegs” Rascon, starting over from scratch was not an option – it had to be done.
After the band’s Dark Days tour in 2003, Rascon knew that the time had come to start over. "Towards the end of Coal Chamber it was such a struggle to get along with everyone," said Rascon, recalling the turmoil. “I knew that I still had a lot of music left in me though. But this time around I wanted to make music with friends, people who are not only great musicians, but people who I trust and respect.”
Enter guitarist Matt Vanderlip, who Rascon had been friends with for many years. “Matt was not only a great guitarist, but a great person. He was someone that I knew right away that I wanted to work with. His guitar style perfectly suited what I wanted to do.” With Vanderlip in the fold, Rascon began writing and recording songs at his home studio in North Hollywood, California. “We wanted to create a sound that no one else had,” says Rascon. “I also wanted it to be sonically bigger and more melodic than what I’d previously done.”
The deviation from traditional metal led to Rascon experimenting with drop tunings even darker than those he used with Coal Chamber. “As much as I wanted to make something epic, it was really important to me that the songs were completely organic so that the melodies came naturally.”
While writing and recording, Rascon and Vanderlip searched incessantly for like-minded individuals to complete the band. After shuffling though several lineups, and playing with “what seemed like hundreds of musicians,” Rascon and Vanderlip eventually decided on drummer Nicco Villalobos. With a drummer in the equation, the band conducted a nationwide search for a vocalist – a search that yielded a demo from Atlanta-based singer Ted Dorward. “Once we heard him sing, we knew he was the guy we wanted,” Rascon explained. “We gave him a track without any vocals and what he recorded over it was incredible. It was 180 degrees from what everyone else did. We loved it.” Dorward was offered the position and within a week, he packed his bags for North Hollywood. The subsequent additions of bassist Ivan Dominguez and guitarist Scott Kohler were the final cogs, and with that, the band Glass Piñata was finally complete.
The band’s moniker draws its roots from Rascon’s personal experience as a musician. “The name Glass Piñata represents the fragility of the music industry,” explained Rascon. “Musicians can be delicate and sensitive, and sometimes easily broken…not unlike glass. When they’re thrown into a fickle industry that doesn’t mind beating every ounce of creative energy out of them in order to survive, it’s apparent who the piñata is.”
The final product of Glass Piñata is a sound that’s sure to please die-hard Coal Chamber fans as well as traditional rock fans and listeners new to the genre. Songs such as “Converge” and “Synchronize Within” illustrate the band’s penchant for combining vengeful guitar riffs with Dorward’s prodigious yet introspective vocals. The opening bassline of “Centerfold Life” quickly materializes into a harrowing dervish of Dorward’s vocal power alternating with Rascon’s ghoulish screams. And despite all the drop-tuned aggression, it’s Glass Piñata’s ability to methodically construct a thunderous sound along side a haunting melody that carries their attack. Vanderlip’s arresting arpeggios on “Plastic Figurines” resonate over a captivating chorus and Villalobos’ intricate drumming. “Forgotten” and “The Test” disarm the listener with deliberate guitar riffs and cyclopean drums before raging into a sonic fury, while the formidable “Climb Away” features a blistering chorus that bleeds into cacophonic instability.
Overall, the Glass Piñata arsenal is sure to win fans over with their heavyweight dichotomy of drop-tuned riffage and ethereal melodies. “I love this music so much,” says Rascon. “I had a great run with Coal Chamber and I’ll always treasure that part of my life. But to me, this is music that’s challenging and still brutally honest. There’s no more make-up, there’s no posturing. It’s not about the image or the clothes. It’s just about making music with a great group of guys and enjoying it.”
And for Rascon, that’s all he ever wanted to do. - Mike Chanpong, nohomusician.com
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