60th GRAMMY Awards Rock Field
(L-R) Adam Granduciel (The War On Drugs), Troy Sanders (Mastodon), Shade Balderose (Code Orange), K.Flay, Jonny Hawkins (Nothing More), Ice-T (Body Count)
2018 GRAMMYs: 9 Things To Know About The Rock Field Nominees
"They said rock and roll was dead," the smooth voice of Common scoffs in the latest 60th GRAMMY Awards TV Spot as video plays of contemporary guitar god and GRAMMY winner Jack White pounding and pummeling his instrument. Rock's not dead — and musicians such as White keep it alive.
The nominees in the Rock Field for this year's GRAMMYs reflect a very bright — and loud — future for a genre that refuses to stay stagnant. From newcomers who are impossible to ignore such as Code Orange, Avenged Sevenfold and The War On Drugs, to prestigious rock royalty like Metallica, Foo Fighters, and the late Chris Cornell, this year's crop of nominees are as dynamic and electrifying as the genre they represent.
The four categories up for grabs are Best Rock Performance, Best Metal Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Album. Peel back the layers as we look at some under-the-surface details about this year's Rock Field nominees.
1. Crushing It With Meshuggah & Code Orange
The competition for Best Metal Performance this year is literally brutal. The category's heavy-hitting street cred is exemplified by two bands nominated for the first time who are about to head out on a U.S. tour together: Pittsburgh hardcore outfit Code Orange and Swedish metal goliaths Meshuggah.
"We started the band at 14. We're 24 now," Code Orange singer/drummer Jami Morgan told Billboard. "We've grinded every year, eight months a year, in a f*****' van, just to prove our f*****' point. … So [being nominated for a GRAMMY] feels right to me. I slept easy that night knowing that the world was correct, and that's it."
Across the Atlantic, Meshuggah have been unleashing extreme, punishing albums and live shows in one incarnation or another since the late 1980s, but they have really pushed the genre forward with their willingness to incorporate intricate rhythms into their crushing riffs. Meshuggah's persistence has paid off as the band gets their first GRAMMY nod this year for Best Metal Performance for their song "Clockworks" from their eighth album, The Violent Sleep Of Reason.
2. Nothing More Score Most Noms
Who has the most rock nominations this year? Foos? 'Tallica? Nope. Try Nothing More. The San Antonio-formed rock band features magnetic frontman Jonny Hawkins, who originally served as the band's drummer. Now stepping squarely into the spotlight, Hawkins and Nothing More are nominated in no less than three of the four Rock Field categories — Best Rock Album for The Stories We Tell Ourselves and Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance for their single "Go To War" — tripling their chances of taking home their first GRAMMY.
3. Metallica: Still Hardwired …
Speaking of the Mighty Met, they're back in the mix this year with two nominations stemming from their return-to-form Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, the thrash pioneers' 10th studio effort. In fact, 2017 is "the best year for Metallica in probably a quarter of a century," according to its outspoken drummer/songwriter Lars Ulrich, a fact backed by a quick look at the band's month of August alone.
With this momentum still building, a solid 36-plus years into their career, Metallica show no signs of slowing. Now James, Lars, Kirk, and Robert can add two more GRAMMY nominations to their banner year, one for Best Rock Album for Hardwired … and another for Best Rock Song for "Atlas, Rise!"
4. The War On Drugs' Los Angeles Masterpiece
Few albums in the rock world played as well with blogs, critics and a wide range of music fans than The War On Drugs' dreamlike guitar-athon, A Deeper Understanding. Led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Adam Granduciel, the Philly-based band cut the album in Los Angeles, lending a sun-drenched sadness to its songs and arrangements. Granduciel also drew influence from one of rock and roll's forefathers, the great Neil Young.
"We did this benefit where Neil Young played as well. He was playing his classic Gretsch White Falcon guitar with the Bigsby [tremolo bar]," Granduciel told GRAMMY.com. " I was actually sitting on his amp rig and watching him rehearse. He was just going off with [the] bar. I was like, 'Oh, it's so expressive.' I have the same guitar but mine didn't have the bar. After that show, I put the Bigsby on that Gretsch of mine. Then, two nights later, we recorded three songs that are on the record. A lot of the inspiration [came] from that expressive quality of that Bigsby."
5. Mastodon's New Heavy
Continuing their evolution on their conceptually heavy seventh studio album, Emperor Of Sand, Mastodon seek their first GRAMMY win. The Atlanta-bred band scored their fourth and fifth career GRAMMY nominations for Best Rock Album for Emperor Of Sand and Best Metal Performance for "Sultan's Curse." Despite the band's jovial nature and sharp sense of humor (on full display in their music video for "Show Yourself"), the dark themes of Emperor … are drawn from channeling the pain of tragedies that have touched their lives into healing.
"Some of the closest people to us were in the middle of some battles with cancer and some heavy-duty illness," drummer/vocalist Brann Dailor told GRAMMY.com. "If we were open and honest with everyone about what the record was about, then we knew that it could maybe have a positive impact with someone else."
6. August Burns Red, Again
The band Alternative Press calls "one of the most sophisticated metal groups operating" is back with their second-ever GRAMMY nomination, this time around for their intense track, "Invisible Enemy."
But August Burns Red proved something more this year than their staying power — they demonstrated they have a sense of humor. The music video for "Invisible Enemy" featured puppet versions of the band performing the song, which was the first single off ABR's eighth album, Phantom Anthem.
7. Much Respect To Cornell, Cohen
The great landscape of rock lost two of its peak performers in the past couple of years with the deaths of Leonard Cohen and Chris Cornell. Cohen, who gave us impossibly rich and delicately dim songs, lands a nod for Best Rock Performance for his haunting work on "You Want It Darker" from his final album of the same name.
In the same category, Cornell earned a nomination for his sincere and soulful single, "The Promise." Though the song was originally written for the ending credits of the 2016 film of the same name, it was released as a single just two months prior to his tragic death on May 18.
8. Body Count Stand Tall
One of the most recognizable names in the Rock Field is not necessarily one that the average music fan associates with metal. But Ice-T, legendary rapper, popular actor and commanding frontman, and his band Body Count, have been pumping out heavy, socially charged mayhem since 1990. This prowess is on full display in their single "Black Hoodie," nominated for Best Metal Performance, the band's first career nomination.
9. Meet Kaleo And K.Flay
You might have already heard Icelandic rock band Kaleo, whether you know it or not. The band's bluesy rumbler "No Good" was featured on HBO's 2016 show "Vinyl." Now Kaleo receive their first GRAMMY nomination for the song that brought them into the homes and phones of millions as "No Good" is up for Best Rock Performance.
Singer/songwriter Kristine Flaherty a.k.a. K.Flay dug deeper into her inner rocker on her sophomore album, Every Where Is Some Where, adding more grinding guitars and flashes of darkness to the sound of her 2014 debut, Life As A Dog. After a decade of releasing mixtapes and making a name for herself in the underground hip-hop scene, K.Flay became the first artist signed to Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynold's Interscope imprint label, Night Street Records. Now she's being recognized for her work as a songwriter on "Blood In The Cut," up for Best Rock Song, in addition to an engineering nod for Every Where … for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.
The 60th GRAMMY Awards will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Jan. 28, 2018, airing live on CBS from 7:30–11 p.m. ET/4:30–8 p.m. PT.