Photo: Amber Patrick
Machine Gun Kelly Returns Home: 7 Highlights From His Biggest Cleveland Show Yet
Relive Machine Gun Kelly's epic homecoming that featured blood, sweat and tears — oh, and a $10 million life insurance policy.
The "Mainstream Sellout" was a hometown sellout on Aug. 13 when Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) performed to more than 41,000 fans at a packed FirstEnergy Stadium in his native Cleveland.
Exactly 15 years after a teenage Colson Baker — now better known as MGK — first dreamed of hip-hop stardom, his unlikely journey from regional up-and-comer to emerging superstar was completed on the final show and first stadium date of his summer touring leg.
Machine Gun Kelly's homecoming was special from start to finish, with the Cleveland mayor officially dubbing Aug. 13 "Machine Gun Kelly Day" and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame opening an MGK exhibit before he took the stage at FirstEnergy Stadium. But as soon as the show began — with openers Trippie Redd, Avril Lavigne, Willow and 44phantom warming up the raucous audience — it was clear MGK's hometown fans were dying to welcome home one of their own.
What transpired was a game-changing two-and-a-half-hour set (built heavily around his latest albums Tickets to My Downfall and Mainstream Sellout) that literally included blood, sweat and tears.
Below, check out seven highlights from MGK's debut as a stadium headliner — and hometown hero.
He Took Down The Internet
The theme throughout the night was destroying the evil internet, which was physically represented with a massive inflatable "Stranger Things"-like creature — complete with a computer screen head — that emerged in the back of the stage, declaring, "I am the internet. You are what I say you are."
Often a paparazzi and social media target, MGK made sure to call out his online haters throughout the show. But more importantly, he encouraged his audience to believe in themselves and not to give power to anonymous trolls.
Spoiler alert: By the end of the show, MGK (along with a little pyrotechnical help from a pink helicopter) successfully destroyed the internet, freeing both himself and his fans from the chains of social media hell — at least for the night.
He Zip-Lined Against All Odds
After a brief video montage of a young rapping MGK rising up through different Northeast Ohio venues, the MC appeared at the back of the stadium dressed in a Cleveland Browns jersey with "XX" for numbers.
Remembering his hip-hop roots for fans there at the beginning, MGK delivered a few lines of early tracks "Cleveland," "Alpha Omega" and "Chip Off the Block" — a special trio of songs he hasn't sung at other stops on the tour — before zip-lining the entire distance of the stadium to the stage. He then delivered an adrenaline-fueled performance of his platinum 2015 track "Till I Die."
"I had a dream three days ago," MGK told the audience afterward. "I said, 'Can you bring me into the stadium in a real helicopter?' They said, 'No.' I said, 'Alright, I want to zip-line from the top of the stadium.'
"They said, 'No.' So I called the mayor and said, 'Let's make this happen. I want to give them some Michael Jackson s— and make them remember.'"
After raising enough money to cover a $10 million life insurance policy, MGK received the green light just before the show.
"We made it happen," MGK said. "This is a special night for a kid who used to hand out CDs and now got 50,000 people together."
He Proved His Pop-Punk Prowess
Confirming his transformation from rapid-fire rapper to pop-punk purveyor, MGK proved his frenetic bona fides by bringing out songwriting partner and producer Travis Barker.
Despite a doctor's orders against performing with a broken thumb, the blink-182 drummer (with wife Kourtney Kardashian in tow) joined MGK for a six-song stretch that featuredTickets To My Downfall tracks "title track," "kiss kiss," "concert for aliens," "all i know" and "bloody valentine" and finished with blink-182's "All the Small Things."
His Emotions Ran High
A trip to the B-stage turned into an emotional moment when MGK talked about wishing his deceased father and aunt could have witnessed his triumphant homecoming. "I wish so much my father and my aunt could be here," he told the crowd. "But I've got you all — the only family I have left."
Featuring a string section from Cleveland's Contemporary Youth Orchestra, the singer delivered raw performances of "Glass House" and "lonely."
Draped in blue light, MGK added, "I'm sorry to be emotional" to the crowd with many fans equally teary during the heartfelt moment.
He Didn't Want The Party To End
Similar to MGK's late 2021 show at Cleveland's Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — where he refused to leave the stage, forcing the venue to cut the power — the FirstEnergy Stadium show ran more than 30 minutes longer than posted set times.
Late into the concert, MGK said he was being told in his earpiece that he was getting fined $70,000 every 10 minutes for running late. He then downed a glass of wine.
"You know what I say about that, we aren't stopping this concert yet," MGK said. "I'm rich, b—."
Just like he's done previously on the current tour, MGK smashed the glass on his head, which caused him to bleed WWE-style from his face. "Should we stop the show or spend the $70,000?" he asked, which prompted chants of "MGK."
With blood now clearly dripping down his face, the singer talked about all of the small club Cleveland venues he played. "I always wanted shows to feel intimate," he added. Mission accomplished.
Photo: Amber Patrick
He Served Up Death-Defying Antics
With the aforementioned life insurance policy in mind, a bloodied and unharnessed MGK climbed 30 feet up the stage rigging — young Eddie Vedder style — to finish "my ex's best friend."
He then proceeded to jam his legs into the rig and hang upside down, smiling and singing without missing a beat as tomato-shaped confetti reigned down around the stadium. The surreal moment epitomized the entire evening: a fearless artist truly wanting to give his hometown crowd a show they'll never forget.
He Soaked Up Every Last Moment
Even 30 minutes (and apparently $210,000) overdue, Machine Gun Kelly clearly didn't want to leave the stage. Nearly awkward moments of silence were mixed with sincere ramblings toward the end, as MGK was obviously still processing the enormity of the evening.
He recalled a phone call with fiancée Megan Fox from earlier in the day, when she told him that he doesn't have to prove anything on stage and that the audience is there to see him.
"We did it," MGK said. "We did sell out a stadium in our hometown. I love you all. I'll see you many times in this lifetime, I'm sure."
After performing the set finale, the anthemic "twin flame," MGK fell to his knees and cried with his head held low. As the appropriately titled "9 lives" played over the PA, MGK hugged his band members and looked out to the crowd — taking in the last moments of a dream come true.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Avril Lavigne Suggests Next Album Is In The "Homestretch"
GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter hints on social media that her sixth studio album could soon be upon us
If there's a sound that defines the early 2000s, Avril Lavigne's punky verve was definitely in the mix. (See hits such as "Complicated," "Sk8er Boi" and "I'm With You.") But what does a modern-day Lavigne have to share with us? We may soon find out.
On April 12, the Canadian singer/songwriter posted a photo holding a guitar while writing on social media, captioned, "Homestretch bes." Though she didn't offer any other details, evidence points to the possibility that Lavigne's sixth studio album could soon be upon us.
Lavigne first started talking about a new album in 2017, but she told Billboard she wasn't necessarily in a hurry to finish it. The former Best New Artist nominee also suggested that she might return to her church and country roots, yielding a promise of an album that heads into uncharted territory.
"I challenged myself as a songwriter and I wanted to write about topics I hadn't hit on before," Lavigne said. "There's the love topic, but a lot of these songs are about life. I've experienced a lot over the past few years, and some of the songs just came to me."
Only time will tell what this "Girlfriend" has in store.
(L - R): Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie, Earl Sweatshirt, Rosalía
(Source Photos L - R): Rich Fury/Getty Images for dcp; Jason Koerner/Getty Images; Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for iHeartRadio; Marc Grimwade/WireImage; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
30 Must-Hear Albums In 2022: Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Rosalía, Machine Gun Kelly, Charli XCX, Saweetie & More
2022 has no shortage of new albums to keep your shuffle hard at work. GRAMMY.com compiled a list of 30 upcoming releases — from Kid Cudi, Earl Sweatshirt, Combo Chimbita, Dolly Parton, and Guns N' Roses — to keep you moving in the new year.
Editor's Note: This piece has been updated to reflect release dates and album titles announced after publishing.
While it may feel like there's not much to look forward to during yet another wave of COVID-19, music fans around the world are eagerly waiting to load their playlists with new releases as 2022 gets underway.
And there's certainly plenty to look forward to: Along with The Weeknd, who released his fifth studio album, Dawn FM, on Jan. 7, superstars like Machine Gun Kelly, Camila Cabello, Dolly Parton, Guns N' Roses, and Rosalía have all announced or teased albums coming this year.
The pandemic may have slowed things down, but there's no stopping artists in 2022. Keep an eye out for these 30 albums from ENHYPEN, Mitski, Saweetie, Bastille, and many more.
The Weeknd, Dawn FM
Release date: Jan. 7
Only a year removed from his incendiary Super Bowl Halftime Show performance, the crowned pop prince of Canada returns with the semi-surprise Dawn FM, a hotly anticipated follow-up to his record-breaking 2020 release, After Hours (you know, the one with "Blinding Lights" and "Save Your Tears" on it).
As The Weeknd's album teasers promised, Dawn FM delivered sinister synthesizers, a vocal appearance from Jim Carrey, and old-man makeup that's arguably only slightly less distressing than his wax-faced After Hours persona.Max Martin is back (on lead single "Take My Breath"), and other guests include Tyler, the Creator and Oneohtrix Point Never.
As for what the three-time GRAMMY winner wants his listeners to take away from his latest work? "Picture the album being like the listener is dead," The Weeknd told Billboard. Capisce? — Brennan Carley
ENHYPEN, DIMENSION : ANSWER
Release date: January 10
Seven-piece boy group ENHYPEN may still be relatively new to the K-pop scene (the band formed in 2020 on the Korean survival competition show "I-Land"), but they're already making moves to put themselves in the ranks of BTS and EXO. Their latest release, DIMENSION : ANSWER, marks the group's first studio repackage album, expanding on their 2021 debut set, DIMENSION : DILEMMA.
DIMENSION : ANSWER will feature three new tracks,: "Polaroid Love," "Outro : Day 2," and lead single "Blessed-Cursed." Fans got a first taste of the three B-sides thanks to an album preview the group released on Jan. 4, which teased a wide array of sounds: punchy pop-sprinkled production on "Polaroid Love," sultry R&B vocals with "Outro : Day 2," and guitar-heavy rock on "Blessed-Cursed." With such vast musical prowess, DIMENSION : ANSWER may just be the group's ticket to K-pop superstardom. — Taylor Weatherby
Cordae, From a Bird's Eye View
Release date: Jan. 14
Cordae set the bar high with his GRAMMY-nominated debut album The Lost Boy and emerged as one of the most exciting new talents of 2019, making his return to the game with his hotly anticipated second album.
The Maryland-raised rapper held fans over with his Just Until… EP last April before launching into his album rollout with the braggadocious hit, "Super" and a collaboration with Lil Wayne, "Sinister." The 24-year-old wordsmith — known for his reflective, carefully-crafted raps — said From a Bird's Eye View was inspired by "a life-changing trip to Africa, enduring the loss of a friend gone too soon and evolving as an artist and a man."
The album will also mark Cordae's first full-length effort since the official disbanding of his YBN collective in 2020. — Victoria Moorwood
Animal Collective, Time Skiffs
Release date: Feb. 4
Followers of experimental pop adventurers Animal Collective have waited six years for a new album following 2016's Painting With. At last, the four-piece will release Time Skiffs, an album full of otherworldly harmonies and mind-opening melodies.
Animal Collective has released two singles from the LP so far: the gently psychedelic "Prester John" and the equally trippy "Walker." The latter is a tribute to Scott Walker, the prolific singer-songwriter who died in 2019. Its beautifully intricate music video, directed by band member Dave Portner and his sister Abby, brings the Time Skiffs album cover to life in vivid detail. — Jack Tregoning
Avril Lavigne, Love Sux
Release date: Feb 25
Like everything Y2K, pop-punk is making a comeback. And nearly 20 years since the release of her seminal pop-punk debut Let Go, Avril Lavigne brings back her pop-punk princess persona in all its glory — combat boots and all. In early November, the "Sk8r Boi" singer shared her the angsty anthem "Bite Me," first new single in over two years, featuring Travis Barker.
With the new music, Lavigne also shared she had signed to the drummer extraordinaire's label DTA Records. Her seventh studio album is set to be the artist's first LP since her more traditional pop LP Head Above Water in 2019. — I.K.
Release date: Jan. 14
Like everyone else around the world, electronic shapeshifter Simon Green had a very unusual past two years. The British musician and DJ, better known as Bonobo, found himself grounded in his adopted home of Los Angeles, itching for new inspiration to get through the pandemic. His wanderings took him from a tent in the Californian desert to a new appreciation for modular synths back home in lockdown, all with a nervous eye on the precarious state of the world.
This activity fed into a flood of music which we'll soon hear on Bonobo's seventh studio album, Fragments, out on Ninja Tune. Fragments features guests including Jamila Woods, Joji and Kadhja Bonet, while channeling influences from UK bass, Detroit techno and global music through Bonobo's widescreen lens. The producer is already up for two Best Dance/Electronic Recording awards at this year's GRAMMYs, for "Heartbreak," his collaboration with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, and "Loom," with Ólafur Arnalds. Bonobo begins a tour of the US in February, giving fans a few precious weeks to soak up the album before its live debut. — J.T.
Earl Sweatshirt, SICK
Release date: Jan. 14
With a decade-plus of acclaimed projects such as 2018's Some Rap Songs, Earl Sweatshirt is both an underground hero and a critic's darling. He hasn't achieved the same level of mainstream success as former Odd Future colleagues Tyler, the Creator and Syd – which is fine with him.
Judging from SICK's lead track "2010," where he pays homage to his mother in cryptic terms, the 10-track album promises to be another collection of stylized verses, dusty beats and autobiographical confessions (albeit rendered in a clearer voice than his previous album, 2019's lo-fi affair Feet of Clay). As its title suggests, SICK was inspired by the pandemic. "My whole thing is grading things on the truth, you know what I mean? However expansive or detailed the truth is," he told Rolling Stone. — Mosi Reeves
iann dior, On To Better Things
Release date: January 21
After blasting onto the scene with his 24kgoldn team-up (and runaway smash) "Mood" in 2020, iann dior hasn't slowed down, releasing an EP and countless other collabs. On To Better Things marks dior's first full-length album since 2019, serving up 15 tracks that will help the rapper truly come into his own.
Like the Lil Uzi Vert-assisted "V12" and the racing single "Let You," On To Better Things will see dior further explore his capabilities as a rapper while also tapping into his alt-pop/rock sensibilities. Judging by his previous releases, dior won't be afraid to get raw and real on his latest project as he opens up about love, relationships and loyalty. There may be glimmers of hope on the album, though, as dior captioned a post teasing the album, "life is better now." — T.W.
Combo Chimbita, IRÉ
Release date: Jan. 28
The melding of cumbia beats and psychedelic vibes was embraced during the '70s by many pioneering outfits in Peru and Colombia. Since the release of their 2017 debut, New York quartet Combo Chimbita has built on that foundation, amping up the mystical tinge of its material through the soulful chanting of extraordinary vocalist Carolina Oliveros.
Always ready to speak up on social and political issues, Chimbita uses cumbia as a starting point, adding swashes of funk and soul, Afro guitar lines and atmospheric samples. The band's new album expands its palette, enhancing lead single "Oya" with a video shot at the ruins of Puerto Rico's abandoned Intercontinental Hotel. A tour with the awesomeLido Pimienta will follow soon. — Ernesto Lechner
Release date: January 2022
Anticipation surrounding Aaliyah's fourth album has been building since 2012, when Blackground Records released "Don't Think They Know," which paired the late singer's vocals with Chris Brown, and a Drake collaboration, "Enough Said." The long-awaited arrival of her back catalog to streaming last fall added fresh fuel for a project that has been controversial, with some diehard fans questioning whether it honors Aaliyah's legacy.
Unstoppable includes guests like Snoop Dogg, Future and Ne-Yo. The first single, a woozy ballad titled "Poison," features The Weeknd as well as lyrics originally written by the late Static Major. "Some of the people Aaliyah liked are on the album. She loved Snoop Dogg," Blackground CEO and Aaliyah's uncle Jomo Hankerson told Billboard. "Everything I do at Blackground is always with her in my heart and my mind." — M.R.
Bastille, Give Me the Future
Release date: Feb. 4
If the pandemic had even a glimmer of a bright side, it comes courtesy of musicians like Bastille pivoting and positioning their art to address the present, as Give Me the Future promises to do.
Bandleader Dan Smith had already begun work on the English pop-rock group's fourth album before COVID-19 threw a wrench in his plans, but the pandemic made the album's probing themes seem that much more prescient. Glistening songs like "Thelma + Louise" and the vocoded "Distorted Light Beam" dig more deeply into Bastille's exploration of escapism when the troubles of the world are thundering outside our windows, all with the help of new collaborators Rami Yacoub and One Republic's Ryan Tedder. We promise it's way more fun than it sounds. — B.C.
Mitski, Laurel Hell
Release date: Feb. 4
Mitski almost pressed pause on her music career which, according to a Rolling Stone interview, was "shaving away my soul little by little." After a final performance, "I would quit and find another life." Fortunately, though, Mitski has stuck with it.
Three years since the release of her fifth studio album Be the Cowboy, the indie singer-songwriter is set to share her forthcoming project Laurel Hell. While the majority of the LP was penned in 2018, it wasn't mixed until 2021, making it the longest the singer has spent on one of her records. What listeners can expect is a transformative set of songs that pair Mitski's signature vulnerability with uptempo dance beats and, ultimately, catharsis. — Ilana Kaplan
Guns N' Roses, Hard Skool EP
Release date: Feb. 25
In 2021, 36 years after the band first formed in the hard rock hotbed of Los Angeles, Guns N' Roses returned with two new singles. This productive streak was remarkable enough in itself given the group's notoriously haphazard release schedule. The singles "ABSUЯD" and "Hard Skool" are doubly remarkable, though, because they usher in a new EP that brings beloved members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan together again after 28 years.
Reinterpreted from the band's Chinese Democracy sessions, "ABSUЯD" features a raw, punk-tinged sound that surprised some fans before rewarding repeat listens. "Hard Skool," meanwhile, harkens back to the classic sound that Guns N' Roses perfected in the late 1980s. The Hard Skool EP will feature the two 2021 singles alongside live renditions of GNR favorites "Don't Cry" and "You're Crazy." To mark this new era, the band is touring arenas throughout 2022, reuniting Axl, Slash and Duff as a powerhouse onstage trio. — J.T.
Take a Look Back: Guns N' Roses' 'Appetite For Destruction' | For The Record
Charli XCX, CRASH
Release date: March 18
Pop polymorph Charli XCX has been promising fans her sellout era for months now ("tip for new artists: sell your soul for money and fame," she tweeted last July), ushered in with last summer's "Good Ones" and buoyed into the holidays with "New Shapes," a powerhouse team-up with Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens.
CRASH is the fifth and final album she owes Atlantic Records — a benchmark not lost on fans or Charli herself. For it, Charli promises edge-of-your-seat appearances from Rina Sawayama, frequent collaborator A. G. Cook, and frequent Weeknd cohort Oneohtrix Point Never. Come for the bloody album artwork, stay for the cheeky, self-aware pop concoctions contained within. — B.C.
Dolly Parton, Run, Rose, Run
Release date: March 2022
The beloved, multi-GRAMMY Award-winning singer-songwriter Dolly Parton has built a career as a trailblazer, so it stands to reason that her next musical effort would carry on that grand tradition. Run, Rose, Run is an album of original tunes taking its energetic moniker from a companion novel that Parton co-authored with the acclaimed writer James Patterson.
According to Parton, the accompanying album consists of "all new songs written based on the characters and situations in the book" and centers on a tale about a girl who treks to Nashville to pursue her dreams. Adds Patterson, "the mind-blowing thing about this project is that reading the novel is enhanced by listening to the album and vice versa." Both projects are dropping in tandem. It's a unique undertaking that celebrates a smoldering passion for music; but if you've been following the legend's career, would you expect anything less? — Rob LeDonne
Maren Morris, Humble Quest
Release date: March 25
GRAMMY-winning singer Maren Morris has conquered modern country music with her soulful solo material and even forayed into pop (just mentioning "The Middle" will glue its sticky chorus to your every waking moment for the next week). So whatever magic Morris might make with her highly anticipated third album, Humble Quest, is cause enough for celebration.
Morris kicked off her next LP with "Circles Around This Town," an expansive, freewheeling single that blends the echoing production of her 2016 debut HERO and super-personal lyrics of 2019's GIRL. The album will be Morris' first since the untimely 2019 passing of her longtime creative partner busbee, but her partnership with pop hitmaker Greg Kurstin (who produced "Circles Around This Town" as well as four GIRL tracks) hints that this next project is going to be a timeless trip and an emotional walloping. — B.C.
Thomas Rhett, Where We Started / Country Again: Side B
Release date: April 1 / Fall 2022
Though country music has always been the core of what Thomas Rhett has done since his debut album (2013's It Goes Like This), the star's 2021 set, Country Again: Side A, was more traditional than his past projects. Clearly his roots (along with the unexpected pandemic-induced downtime) sparked a bout of inspiration, as Rhett announced in November that he'll be releasing Side B as well as another LP, titled Where We Started, in 2022.
Surprisingly, Side B won't be coming first. But it will create one cohesive Country Again narrative once it arrives, as Rhett promised in an interview with Rolling Stone last year — though he did hint that Side B will feature production that's "a smidge more experimental" than Side A. His latest single, the wistful "Slow Down Summer" hints that Where We Started will also bring back more of the pop-leaning production he's incorporated in his previous albums.
Still, that doesn't mean he'll lose sight of the country boy that has been unleashed: In writing all of this music, Rhett told his producers (per Rolling Stone), "This is the direction I'm headed in, and I think I'm gonna be here for a long time." — T.W.
Jack White, Fear of the Dawn / Entering Heaven Alive
Release date: April 8 / July 22
Epic ambition fuels the very essence of rock 'n' roll and Jack White has embodied the genre's weakness for glamour, dissonance and excess since his days with The White Stripes. The reckless propulsion of "Over and Over and Over" — off 2018's Boarding House Reach — proved that he has kept the bravado in his songwriting very much alive.
2022 will find the multi-GRAMMY Award winning singer/guitarist releasing two full-length albums: Fear of the Dawn, led by the wonderfully bombastic single "Taking Me Back," will also include a collaboration with rapper Q-Tip. No details are available on July's Entering Heaven Alive, but the appearance of two albums in the same year is the kind of grandiloquent gesture that rock is in need of more than ever before. — E.L.
Swedish House Mafia, Paradise Again
Release date: TBA, ships April 15
When GRAMMY-nominated Swedish House Mafia announced they were getting back together (and this time for good), fans were cautiously optimistic. The trio of DJ-producers — Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell — promised a host of new music to mark their return, and so far they've kept to their word. The comeback began with the dark, guest-free "It Gets Better," which deviated from the big-room EDM sound championed by the Swedes up to their split in 2013.
From there, the trio delivered "Lifetime," featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 070 Shake, and "Moth to a Flame," featuring The Weeknd, which became their first major hit of the new era. This flurry of activity sets the stage for Swedish House Mafia's first full album, Paradise Again. As Ingrosso told NME, the album will combine their trademark "Scandinavian melodies with dark production and hard sounds." Starting July 2022, the DJs embark on their first tour in a decade, playing 44 dates throughout the US, UK and Europe. — J.T.
Jason Aldean, Georgia
Release date: April 22
Jumping on country music's 2021 double album trend, Jason Aldean issued Macon, the first half of his own two-disc set, Macon, Georgia, in November. The title is an homage to his hometown, which he refers to as a "melting pot" that shaped his music, according to Country Now. Yet, the 30-song project expands on Aldean's signature country-rock sound without steering too far away from what fans have grown to love, as evidenced with both Macon and Georgia's crooning lead single, "Whiskey Me Away."
Like its predecessor, Georgia will include 10 new songs and five live recordings of his biggest hits, essentially creating Aldean's first-ever live album.With the aptly titled track "Rock and Roll Cowboy" to boot, Georgia helps make Macon, Georgia a career highlight for Aldean. — T.W.
Machine Gun Kelly, Born with Horns
Release date: TBD
The upcoming sixth studio album from enigmatic rocker Machine Gun Kelly, ominously titled Born with Horns, was rumored to drop on New Year's Eve 2021, but it seems Kelly had a change of heart tweeting "See you in 2022." While the release date continues to be murky, there is some solid information about the highly anticipated fresh slate of music from the multi-hyphenate rockstar.
For one, the album is produced by fellow rock luminary Travis Barker and includes the decidedly dark single "Papercuts." "It feels more guitar-heavy for sure, lyrically it definitely goes deeper, but I never like to do anything the same," Kelly said of Born with Horns in an interview with Sunday TODAY, noting it'll also mark a personal evolution. "I'm not scared anymore, there's nothing holding me back from being my true self — and my true self can't be silenced, can't be restrained." — R.L.
Camila Cabello, Familia
Release date: TBD
There's perhaps never been a better advertisement for an album than Camila Cabello's edition of NPR's Tiny Desk. Released last fall, the session begins with three old songs and ends with two Familia cuts strong enough to bowl you over. In just 20 minutes, the former Fifth Harmony singer genuflects at the altar of pop's past while steering its ship into the future.
"Don't Go Yet" brims with the promise of comfort as it opens with a warm flamenco guitar. "La Buena Vida" is a Mariachi-based explosion of emotion and evocation, anchored by Cabello's arresting vocals. Whereas her prior albums sought to cement the 24-year-old amidst her contemporaries, the uber-personal Familia seems likely to propel her into a whole new pedigree of artistry. — B.C.
Release date: TBD
In 2018, Rosalía's cinematic El Mal Querer signified a before-and-after for the music of Spain and Latin America. A visionary blend of flamenco, hip-hop and confessional torch song, the album introduced her to the world as an intellectual, musicologist and pop diva wrapped up into one slick sonic package. Subsequent singles (2019's "Haute Couture" was a gorgeous slice of electro-pop) demonstrated that Rosalía's path to global domination relies on a voracious curiosity for disparate styles and high-profile collaborators such as Billie Eilish and Bad Bunny.
Titled MOTOMAMI, Rosalía's much anticipated release includes "LA FAMA," a deliciously distorted bachata duet with The Weeknd. We can only imagine what other wonders Rosalía's remarkable imagination has dreamed up for this, her first full-length album since becoming a cultural icon. — E.L.
Saweetie, Pretty Bitch Music
Release date: TBD
Saweetie is set to finally release her debut album, Pretty Bitch Music, this year. After first announcing the project in 2020, the Bay Area native's star power has exploded, reaching new heights last year with major endorsements, her first GRAMMY nominations and a "Saturday Night Live" debut. Pretty Bitch Music was initially slated to arrive in 2021, but Saweetie postponed the effort for some additional fine-tuning.
"I'm just living with it to ensure it's perfect," she told Hollywood Life in August. "I'm really challenging myself and I just want to ensure that I put out a body of work that [will] symbolize art."
Pretty Bitch Music is expected to include Saweetie's 2x Platinum-certified collaboration with Doja Cat, "Best Friend" and her single "Tap In" with production by Timbaland, Lil Jon and Murda Beatz, among other heavy-hitters. — V.M.
Kid Cudi, Entergalactic
Release date: TBD
Three years after it was announced, Kid Cudi's animated music adventure for Netflix is set to arrive this summer, as the rapper declared during his set at Rolling Loud California in December. "I got some tasty surprises," he told fans before offering a snippet of unreleased music that may be on the soundtrack.
Not much else is known about the project, which takes its title from a song on Cudi's 2009 debut Man on the Moon: The End of Day, and which co-creator Kenya Barris referred to as "the most ambitious thing" in a 2019 interview with Complex.
Entergalactic might not be where Kid Cudi stops in 2022, either: Amid his Rolling Loud teases, he said, "I want to drop another album before [Entergalactic]... I really am excited about all this new s, this new music to give to you guys. So that's why I'm teasing this s now, 'cause it's comin' out soon." — M.R.
Beach House, Once Twice Melody
Release date: throughout 2022
Nearly four years since the release of their seventh studio album aptly titled 7, Beach House is slowly unveiling their latest record Once Twice Melody. But instead of dropping all 18 tracks at once, the dreamy indie duo has been giving fans a taste of their new sound in four chapters.
Once Twice Melody is a significant shift as it's the first album produced in full by the band. Beach House also thought about its structure completely differently than they had in the past. "It didn't just feel like a regular, like another album of ours, it felt like a larger, newer kind of way of looking at our music," singer Victoria Legrand told Apple Music. Instead, they view it as "cinematic" and "literary." What fans can expect, they say, is "a lot of love" and "a sacredness of nature." — I.K.
Kendrick Lamar, TBA
Release date: TBD
One of our most celebrated artists of his generation may make his triumphant return this year. Although it's been nearly five years since Kendrick Lamar released his GRAMMY- and Pulitzer Prize-winning album DAMN, Lamar has remained busy. In 2018, Lamar curated the Black Panther soundtrack and he's also made guest appearances on tracks by artists as varied as Nipsey Hussle, Anderson .Paak, U2 and his cousin, Baby Keem.
But Lamar has been mostly mum about his own music, save for an August blog post titled "nu thoughts." "Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family," he wrote, adding that his next album will be his last with Top Dawg Entertainment. It's the sort of thoughtful, precise announcement (and perhaps a hint to his album's content) that fans have come to expect from the notoriously private rapper. Lamar will thankfully make an appearance at this year's Super Bowl in February. — Britt Julious
Cardi B, TBA
Release date: TBD
Despite the slow-burning success of her single "Bodak Yellow," few could have predicted the popularity of Cardi B'sdebut album, Invasion of Privacy. A critical and commercial success, "Invasion of Privacy" won Best Rap Album at the 61st Grammy Awards, making Cardi the first woman to win in the category. That's why anticipation for her sophomore record is so high.
Cardi's brand of hip-hop is provocative and fun, and her two singles (possibly from the record) seem to confirm that same mood is still present in her music. In 2020, she dropped "WAP," a cultural reset of a collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion, and in 2021, she released "Up," which later inspired a viral TikTok dance challenge. As with many artists, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the release of Cardi's new album. But late last year on Instagram Live, Cardi said she has "lots of jobs now" and one of them is to "put out this album next year." Hopefully fans won't have to wait too long. — B.J.
Release date: TBD
If Koffee's latest single is any indication, the youngest GRAMMY Award winner for Best Reggae Album is planning a glorious homecoming in 2022. Sung with a wide smile you can nearly hear, "West Indies" is a dancehall love letter to the islands and an upbeat promise for what the singer has in store on her first full-length.
"I want to speak of a solution and of a way that we can come together and get along, even when things are going wrong," Koffee told Rolling Stone.
Although the pandemic halted her album recording and nixed her first Coachella performance, Koffee defies the dour attitude of much of the past two years. On "West Indies," Koffee assures that she's partying and having the time of her life — her as-yet-untitled album will likely soundtrack yours while you do the same. — Jessica Lipsky
Read More: The Women Essential To Reggae And Dancehall
Girl Ultra, TBA
Release date: TBD
Few musical experiences are as uplifting as listening to a singer/songwriter's follow-up to a brilliant debut, where they enhance the scope of their craft with new influences and sounds. Nuevos Aires, Girl Ultra's first full-length album, was just that – a breath of fresh air for Latin R&B, anchored on the purity of her voice and collaborations with Ximena Sariñana and Cuco (for the languid hit "DameLove.")
Following that 2019 release, the artist also known as Mariana de Miguel returns with a new EP. Lead single "Amores de Droga" evokes the sophistication of Everything But The Girl, combining smoldering vocalizing with cool electro grooves. A study in contrasts, it finds the Mexico City chanteuse reaching a pinnacle of inspiration. — E.L.
Photos: Tim Mosenfelder, Daniel Boczarski/Redferns, Steve Jennings/WireImage, Gary Miller/FilmMagic, Tim Mosenfelder, Chiaki Nozu/WireImage, Martin Philbey/Redferns, Noel Vasquez/Getty
Remembering When We Were Young: Avril Lavigne, Jimmy Eat World & More Bands Reflect On The Peak Of Emo & Hardcore Ahead Of Vegas Fest
When We Were Young Festival performers Bright Eyes, the All-American Rejects, Meet Me @ the Altar and others celebrate the special sounds of the 2000s and 2010s — and the acts they're most excited to see in Las Vegas.
If the average fan travels to Las Vegas to find themselves squarely in the moment — whether that be at the slots, a show, or an artist residency — one festival is aiming to be a blast from the past. Held Oct. 22, 23 and 29, the When We Were Young Festival is a nostalgia event for the ages (particularly, those in their late 20s to early 40s). The event features 64 of the biggest names in pop-punk, emo and hardcore from the early 2000s through 2010s, as well as a handful of contemporary acts who are continuing those movements today.
While there was no doubt a divide between subcultures and subgenres back in the day — just ask any scene kid, these journalists included — When We Were Young breaks down those barriers in favor of a smorgasbord of sound. Across five stages at the Las Vegas Fairgrounds, there will be pop-punk from Avril Lavigne, post-hardcore from AFI, straight-ahead punk rock from the Linda Lindas, and the highly anticipated return of emo rockers My Chemical Romance.
Almost as soon as When We Were Young was announced, social media exploded about the implausibility of such a massive lineup. Even still, tickets sold out immediately. Organizers responded to the demand (and fans' thoughts about who was missing from this year’s roster) by announcing a jam-packed lineup for 2023 — which, of course, is already sold out.
Ahead of the inaugural When We Were Young festival, GRAMMY.com asked some of its acts to look back on this unique time in music and share some of their favorite memories. While you’re reading, press play on GRAMMY.com's official When We Were Young Fest playlist on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Pandora. Playlist powered by GRAMMY U.
Photo courtesy of the artists
Nathaniel Motte: I think the emo scene really encouraged a sense of demystification across a lot of different facets of music. We started touring on a national scale on Warped Tour, and on that tour, pretty much every band does a daily meet and greet, where fans can meet the bands in person and have a substantive, personal interaction with them. That was really important for us, as we always considered ourselves pretty regular people, just trying to rock a party and make it as fun as possible for a bunch of our friends in the crowd.
Our first three years of full touring (2008, 2009, and 2010) was a delirious, crazy, exhausting and joyful blur. We were so ignorant to the pitfalls of the "industry" that we didn't know what we couldn't do, and therein, every opportunity to do something different was novel and exciting. Each one of those years I was deferring my acceptance to medical school at the University of Colorado, because the experiences we were getting and the fun we were having was way too much to turn away (shout out to CU Medical School for the patience and generosity!).
Sean Foreman: Playing Warped Tour in New York and reaching out to Lil Jon — who drove out and joined us on stage for two songs — that was truly the WTF moment, since a lot of our early sound was inspired by him.
I’m a fan of almost all these bands, but I will say I’m excited to see Pierce the Veil. Our first American tour, we shared a bus with them. They are extremely nice people and I love their new song "Pass the Nirvana" a lot. That’s inspiring to me to watch a band that has been around maybe longer than us continuing to grow. They also short circuited our bus with their hair straighteners, and to this day I like to give them crap about it.
A Day To Remember — Neil Westfall, guitarist
Photo: James Hartley
To me, this time was all about finding out who I was and what I liked. I would go to every show that came to my part of Florida. I made almost all my lifetime friends from going to shows and being a part of the scene in Florida. ADTR made music that allowed us to fully express every influence, whether that made sense to others or not. It allowed us to play every genre of show and fit in enough to play, but stand out enough to be remembered.
I remember being on tour with Parkway Drive, The Acacia Strain and Suicide Silence, and getting our mixes back from Adam Dutkiewicz for Homesick. We all listened to them on the PA at the venue in Melbourne. We were insanely happy with how everything was going, and DL from The Acacia Strain came up to us and said,"You guys are about to be the biggest band in the world." We all laughed and went on to play. While we may not be the biggest band in the world yet, we aren’t finished.
I am a huge fan of Paramore. I think we may have played, like, three festivals together in the past, and they have absolutely crushed every time I have seen them play. I probably could talk about multiple songs on multiple albums, but the first song I heard was"Pressure" from the album All We Know Is Falling. I doubt I will ever get to see them play it, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.
The All-American Rejects — Mike Kennerty, guitarist
Photo courtesy of the artist
[This era] was the last gasp of the old music industry... MTV, radio, magazines. We got to live out those rollercoaster experiences right before things changed, which was amazing as kids who grew up in Oklahoma seeing all those things from afar. We've probably forgotten as much as we remember! But getting a VMA (back when videos still felt like a big deal) was pretty cool!
We found out about the lineup along with everyone else. To say they were vague about who all else was playing is an understatement. Alkaline Trio is still a great band and I'm excited to see them again! The first time we got to play with them was in the early '00s at this small club in Amsterdam. It felt like I was getting into a killer show for free.
Anberlin — Deon Rexroat, bassist
Photo: Jordan Butcher
That first decade of the 2000s was very unique, because you still had this sort of monoculture coming out of the '90s that helped regional and local scenes to develop. Anberlin developed our sound by being a part of a local community of musicians in Central Florida. We started out playing shows with Copeland and Underoath. We weren't all the same genre, but it didn't matter. People nurtured our growth simply by going out to local shows and giving unknown bands like us a chance.
Florida, at that time, was a special place, with bands like Hot Water Music, Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory, and others really standing out musically and doing things that would go on to influence people across the country and the world. It was a great scene to be a part of.
The time around our third album Cities, will always be a special time for me. We were coming off an incredible two years of growth after releasing Never Take Friendship Personal, and it felt like we were becoming a mature, respected band amongst our peers. We felt established and actually started headlining tours and selling out shows in larger venues. It was obvious something was really happening for us.
I was and am stoked and honored about the invite to play [the fest], as I'm sure the other bands are. But I have to be honest — when we were first presented with the offer, I thought,"How is this real?" immediately followed by"How will they pull this off?!"
Sure, Warped Tour did it for years and on a daily basis, but so many bands are of a certain size or bigger here. The scheduling gymnastics are going to take Olympic-level talent. Regardless of all of that, I do know our set will just be a bonus next to spending multiple days with longtime best friends like Bayside and Story Of The Year, among many others!
Jimmy Eat World [is my favorite band on the bill]. Hands down. Having Clarity and Bleed American come out in the few years leading up to Anberlin's formation, they were, and still are, so influential for me. I think it speaks volumes that they are playing this fest, but are also such a major influence on so many of the other bands on the same bill. It's really hard to express what they mean to me personally, but also what they mean to the scene they helped to build that is at the core of the festival.
Photo: Ryan McFadden
There have been songs I've loved by a lot of the bands playing. I love "Dirty Little Secret" by the All-American Rejects and "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World — I'm really excited to see Jimmy Eat World. I still go back to their album Bleed American a lot. And I love the first album by The Used, which was done by my producer John Feldmann.
This was a world I grew up not just a part of, but listening to. When I got asked to do [the festival] and found out who else was on it, I was like,"F— yeah, I'm in!" So many of my friends and favorite bands in one place — there's no way I couldn't be there.
Black Veil Brides — Andy Biersack, singer
Photo: Joshua Shultz
I'm a bit younger than a lot of my contemporaries from this era, so a lot of this period musically, for me, represents that "coming of age" sort of feeling. Being in 6th/7th grade and discovering bands like AFI, Alkaline Trio and Jimmy Eat World, and [then being] completely blown away that this thing called Warped Tour existed. I'd lay in bed some nights just thinking about how many days were left until next year's show in Cincinnati. It really means everything to me.
Alkaline Trio is and will always be my favorite band of all time. There is no single artist that has had the effect on me that they did and continue to do. I remember seeing them in Covington, Kentucky as a kid and waiting around back by the buses to see if I could get an autograph. [Guitarist] Matt [Skiba] signed my hoodie and I felt like I had won the lottery. I've been lucky enough to get to work with Matt a few times over the years. He's an amazing artist and person. I cannot wait to watch their set every day!
The basis for my songwriting and interest in pursuing that end of music really stems from this era more than any other. When we started touring and gaining popularity, I was still a teenager who had just dropped out of high school and was suddenly on this crazy ride, and sort of learning about life through the mechanism of the music industry and being on the road. I feel so lucky that we came up in the time and era that we did, and I think there's a reason why this type of music has continued on in popularity and adoration.
We have all been so excited for this [festival] for so long, and can't wait to play and enjoy the celebration of some of the best music that's ever been made.
Bright Eyes — Nate Walcott, keyboardist & trumpeter
Photo: Shawn Brackbill
My emo phase was a little earlier, in the '90s, when I was in high school. I'm old!
This was in Lincoln, Nebraska. Some friends of mine were really into bands like Mineral and Sunny Day Real Estate, and I liked some of that stuff; it was an appropriate soundtrack to my angsty high school teen years. But so were things like "Central Park West" (John Coltrane) and "Flamenco Sketches" (Miles Davis) and Chopin's preludes in Em and Db major, as well as "I Could Have Lied," perhaps the most emo of all Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. All of these things somehow had a similar feeling to me.
One of my best friends in high school, Ben Armstrong, played drums in Commander Venus —a band featuring my future Bright Eyes bandmate Conor Oberst…. It was fun riding around with Ben going to Commander Venus shows in houses and weird performance spaces and s—y all ages clubs. To be a high school kid doing that stuff was exhilarating and…emotional!
I started playing in Bright Eyes in 2002, and became a full-time member in 2005. I can't speak entirely for all my bandmates — My Chem[ical Romance] most certainly came up from time to time — but I wasn't listening to a lot of emo, hardcore or pop-punk once the aughts hit. But we were touring and recording constantly during this period.
I was pleasantly surprised by the degree to which the festival tapped into this sense of nostalgia, and how much it seemed to resonate with people. Any occasion for people to congregate and enjoy music in the spirit of celebration is something to be happy about, and we're glad to be a part of it. I'm looking forward to expanding my horizons and hearing some new things. Maybe my biggest emo phase lies ahead!
Dance Gavin Dance — Matt Mingus, drummer
Photo: Lindsey Byrnes
This era of music was particularly very special to me. I started going to local pop punk/emo shows when I was 14. This progressed into me getting acquainted with the larger national acts in the scene. I always liked these shows because everyone there was very welcoming and I felt right at home.
I was lucky enough to grow up in Sacramento, California, which had awesome shows all of the time thanks to the legendary music venue called The Boardwalk. Thanks to seeing countless bands there over the years, myself and the other founding members were inspired to create Dance Gavin Dance.
One of my fondest memories of that era was when we got our first record deal and went to record our first full-length album, Downtown Battle Mountain, in Portland, Oregon in 2007. I had just turned 18 and was still a senior in high school. I was nervous but more so excited; little did I know this would jumpstart a life full of touring and writing music with some of my best friends in the world for the next 15 years and counting.
I was excited and honored [to be on the bill]. However, it made me feel a little old. To be put up on a pedestal with bands like My Chemical Romance and Paramore as a nostalgic artist, I must say, felt pretty good.
I'm super excited [to see] a lot of the bands on the festival [lineup] — one in particular is Dashboard Confessional. When I was in 8th grade, I did a music project on The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most; I used to be in love with that album when I was younger and still get all sorts of feelings when I listen to it to this day. I can't wait to finally see them perform!
Hawthorne Heights — J.T. Woodruff, singer
Photo: Courtesy of the artist
Standing on the main stage in Columbus, Ohio at Warped Tour 2005 — that was the moment that I realized our band and this genre was starting to get massive. It was an ocean of people from all walks of life, that were dressing like us, and wearing the same haircut as us. It felt great to belong to something. The roller coaster was in the free-fall stage, and we were hanging on for dear life, in the best way possible. I will remember that summer for the rest of my life.
For me, the most special moment was feeling a part of something different. We got to take part in a tidal wave, which changed the scene from almost exclusively pop-punk vs. hardcore to something that blended these worlds together. You could feel the sea change happening — similar to when the grunge movement happened when I was a kid. It wasn't something we were aware of at the moment, but as time grows, you start to realize the lasting impact the songs we created [have] had.
We found out [about] the lineup when the fans did. And while it felt chaotic at the time, it was interesting to see how the internet reacted in real time. It was a masterclass in social marketing. These events are what makes the scene relevant after all these years. The fans need it. The bands need it. We all want to live forever.
Universally, I think My Chemical Romance is a band that everyone believes in. We've been fortunate enough to hang out with them quite a few times, and they are genuine legends. A band that puts art first, and will sacrifice nothing to achieve the vision that is in their collective brain, is so rare and so pure. I took my daughter to watch them on their current arena tour. We loved every minute of it, and it was a great moment from a father to a daughter — elder emo to current emo.
I Prevail — Steve Menoian, guitarist
Photo: Fearless Records
I think it was a really creative time for rock and guitar-driven music. There were so many different subgenres that were coming together and building the foundation of the way we would look back on that era.
When you really think about it, it's weird to think that music as different as emo, hardcore, metal-core and pop-punk would eventually feel that they almost cohesively came from the same era. I think that's unique. When we look back on the '80s or '90s, it seems like one style really dominated, like hair metal or grunge. The 2000s [felt] unique in how eclectic it was.
We had an awesome alt rock station in Detroit called 89x. I remember driving to high school in the mornings and hearing The Used, 30 Seconds to Mars, Fall Out Boy, Panic! [at the Disco], Paramore, Rise Against, Simple Plan — so many bands like that. I didn't really realize it at the time, but it was great exposure to the emo and alt rock that was brewing in that era.
I went through a huge Dashboard [Confessional] phase in my early college years. I remember sitting in my dorm late at night and learning to play all those songs off of The Places You Come to Fear the Most —"Standard Lines," "Screaming Infidelities,""Saints and Sailors." All I had with me that first year was an acoustic, so I really immersed myself in that record.
I don't think we initially appreciated just how big [this festival] was going to be. We knew it would be big, but it just went to another level. Seeing the initial reaction and how viral the announcement went really put it into perspective. There are so many iconic bands on the bill, and as a younger band who didn't really come from that era, we're just stoked to be here — and to add our style into the crazy melting pot that will no doubt make this one of the best festival experiences of the year.
Jimmy Eat World — Jim Adkins, singer/guitarist
Photo: Jimi Giannatti
When someone brings up "emo," I think of the beginnings of our band. About the 1994 to 2002 time period. That was also my 18 to 25, growing-up period. Well, I guess you never really stop growing up, but that was when things were new. That was pre-internet as we know it today. So there is nostalgia for me on a personal level of experiencing things for the first time, and the special nostalgia of knowing how I experienced it, that way, was the last time anyone will.
I feel like the entire period is a core memory. To be involved at all in the scene meant to take on a work ethic of self-dependence. But you had to take on an equal amount of contribution. As motivated or self-contained as you may be, you weren't going anywhere without help. We were shown when we matched our appetite for adventure with the willingness to contribute, there were lifelong friends to be made.
There was also a ceiling on how personal you should take any of this. It felt like no one outside of our group of friends actually cared. If you weren't in it for the sake of personal reward in creating music, then you were in the wrong place. It turns out everything we simply just did back then was exactly what you need to make playing music a long-term endeavor.
There were a lot of thoughts I had when we were asked. Like I said, when I think about the beginnings of the band, there were not many people cheerleading. There was a dedicated, hardcore network of like-minded people around the country working together just to make it happen for the sake of it happening. To think what we were up to would be"seen" on the level it is today would have been insane.
None of us got into playing music because it was cool. Or because we thought it could be a career. We did it because there was something inside telling us we had to. We put a lot into what we've done so far. Everything we have, really. And the festival coming around when it did to ask us feels like recognition in a way. A warm fuzzy blanket.
Photo: Hunter Moreno
It felt almost funny that I was [on the same lineup] with all these legends. But f— that, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. So, I remember verbally saying, "I can't wait to show people that I'm not just supposed to be here, I am supposed to show people that this is just the beginning."
Silverstein and Taking Back Sunday are my meccas. I took so much inspiration from them, both vocally and energy-wise, for my first album, that I'm positive I will be bricked up watching them live for the first time.
[The early aughts] were the first nine years of my life, so honestly, I just lived. And it's really funny how now, more than 10 years later, I'm doing the same thing — just with music. Living, and trying to stay as true to myself as I can.
The Linda Lindas
Photo: Zen Sekiwaza
Lucia de la Garza, guitar & vocals: We were very, very young or maybe not even born when emo and hardcore and pop-punk were at their peaks. But it's so special how much fondness and joy you see when people talk about the music of their childhood. One of the reasons music is so cool is because it emulates emotions and conveys them so specifically. I know as I grow older, the music I'm listening to now will bring that same kind of feeling and nostalgia. And there are definitely some bands on the bill that I'll carry with me as I grow up.
I've been looking forward to seeing Wolf Alice, because I think their music is so cool and I love all their albums. It was playing a lot of the time when we had online school, and listening to it just makes me really happy.
Eloise Wong, bass & vocals: I read about Meet Me @ the Altar in Razorcake and look forward to checking them out live!
Mila de la Garza, drums & vocals: I had been wanting to play with Paramore, who are one of my favorite bands, for a long time, and this was just a real opportunity to do it. It's cool because we've known them for a while.
Bela Salazar, guitar & vocals: Zac [Farro, Paramore's drummer] took photos of us for press early this year. They've all come out to see us play, but this is the first time we get to play together! Paramore was my first real concert, and I can't believe we know them now and are playing the same fest!
Lucia de la Garza: [Playing When We Were Young] kind of felt like a challenge that we all wanted to accept….The energy is going to be so fun because it's about youth, and one of our vibes is youthful energy!
Mayday Parade — Jeremy Lenzo, bassist
Photo: Jordan Kelsey Knight
I feel like this time period wasn't just special for emo/pop punk/hardcore, but really every subgenre. With music streaming just starting to take off, it seemed people were starting to stumble on new genres of music they didn't know existed.
I used to sit in computer class in high school with another classmate, and we would search the internet to see what new bands we could find. That's how I found a lot of my favorite bands. When Avril Lavigne started having radio hits, I think that opened a lot of peoples eyes to the pop rock/pop-punk genre, and ultimately made it more accessible for new people to get into the genre.
There are so many memories I have where I can't remember the larger context of the memoir, but just have a small snapshot. Listening to Saves The Day in the car with my mom, and her saying she liked the melodies but couldn't stand the lyrics. Aimlessly driving at night with our guitarist, Alex, listening to Sparta just to listen to the whole record in one sitting. Being at my girlfriend's house when her roommate put on The Get Up Kids, which became one of my favorite bands of the time. I have tons of these little memories. It's funny how music can bring you back to a certain place in your life.
Most of these bands we have toured with before and became good friends with, so I'm a fan of most of the artists playing. Some in particular that stand out are Taking Back Sunday (Tell All Your Friends) because we took a lot of inspiration from them in the beginning. The Used (The Used) is another artist I was really into. I remember when I first heard them, I was blown away by the songwriting and how good Bert's voice was.
Also Jimmy Eat World (Clarity) always blew me away with their songwriting, and helped shape parts of our band as well. Oh, I almost forgot My Chemical Romance! I didn't really get into them until The Black Parade, but damn if that isn't a killer album. Honestly every time I finished writing a sentence, I remembered another album I like [from an] artist at the festival — this could go on for a while, so I'm just going to end it here.
Meet Me @ the Altar
Photo: Jonathan Weiner
Edith Victoria, singer: [This music] gave me a community of people that were like me that I couldn't find anywhere else. I found music, went to shows, and met my best friends.
Téa Campbell, guitarist/bassist: [When we were asked to play WWWY], we were shaking in our boots!
Ada Juarez, drummer: Literally all we were told was that My Chemical Romance was playing this festival and that's all we needed to know.
Campbell: But then we saw the full lineup when it was announced and we were like whaaaaaaaaaaaat!
Victoria: I'm excited to see Kittie because they're so iconic. And to be an all-girl band touring with Slipknot at that time?! Plus, they're fashion icons to me.
Juarez: I have more than one [band I'm excited to see], but mainly Bring Me the Horizon. I've been following them for so long. Every album they put out gets better and better, but Sempiternal is one of my favorites. It's so influential to me and the scene in general. I feel they're one of those bands that made such a name for themselves. They can do so many genres and still nail it. It's so hard to find a band like that.
Campbell: My favorite is Paramore. They're the reason I'm in this band. I think Brand New Eyes is my favorite album. My favorite memory is when I was 14 and I got to see them live in Florida. It made me realize that's what I wanted to do, too.
Photo: P Mastro
That generation of music means so much to me. Avril [Lavigne], Blink , Paramore — music I grew up listening to and all have shaped who I am today musically. I even got the opportunity to work with Travis Barker on my song "la di die," and being in the studio with him really helped me understand myself as an artist even more. He is an icon of the generation within himself. It all feels so surreal to be a part of.
There are so many cool artists that are involved [in the fest], but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Avril. She is just such an icon, and she paved the way for herself to have a long-lasting career. I think her first album came out the year I was born, so 20 years of Avril is insane.
Everyone was talking about [the festival when it was announced], so I knew what an amazing opportunity it was to be a part of it. I also love that this is the first time the festival is happening — honored to be [part of] the debut of it.
Pierce the Veil — Jaime Preciado, bassist
Photo: Fearless Records
It was a special period of time where certain artists and bands didn't have to confound themselves to the typical mainstream radio. It was a time when you could be an outcast and still be heard. It made the music we liked special, unique, and felt more like a smaller community we could connect to.
When Thrice put out the album The Illusion of Safety, that was the first album I heard that was everything I wanted to do in music. They paved the way for that. It was heavy, happy, sad — all the things you want in a record. It drew me into this style of music and helped me discover many other bands in the genre.
When I first listened to My Chemical Romance, it was the first time I ever felt the lyrics of another band and created a connection to the music as a whole. It is another band that paved the way for artists like us. I'm pretty sure I used their lyrics in my yearbook for my senior quote!
The amount of legends on this bill is unreal and I can't believe we get to share the stage with so many of them over the course of three shows.
Senses Fail — Buddy Nielsen, singer
Photo: Cameron Gile
When I really realized that what was happening was pretty significant was Warped Tour 2006. The shows were just massive — almost every venue was completely full; it was at times impossible to make your way through the crowds. A lot of the bands we were friends with had to start bringing security in order to keep signings and basic operations safe.
I once skipped school to see [Thursday] play. I went by myself and just sort of lost my mind in the show, and it was one of the best experiences I have had in my life. Their album Full Collapse changed my life.
[This period of time] was my youth. Instead of going to college, I ended up in a band touring the world. My twenties were the boom of emo music, and along with that, our band.
All my old friends came out of the woodwork to ask for tickets [to When We Were Young]. I would definitely be making the trip to Vegas even if we weren't on the bill.
Silverstein — Shane Told, singer
Photo: Wyatt Clough
It was amazing that we all came together, bands from all over, and really started an entire new music scene. I loved the punk rock scene — I still do — but this meant more. We weren't afraid to express ourselves and our emotions in the music. And that really resonated with the fans. It became about more than just the music and the energy. It dug deeper.
And at the same time the internet and social media was just starting out, so not only did we have our own exciting breed of music, we also had an entire movement on the internet talking about it, interacting with each other. That had never happened before on that scale.
When we released Discovering The Waterfront in 2005, it just exploded overnight. It wasn't the radio or MTV, it was real fans sharing it on AIM and MSN, putting"My Heroine" on their MySpace profiles, and of course coming out to shows like Warped Tour and Taste of Chaos. People were illegally downloading the music all over the world where they couldn't buy a CD.
We played in Mexico City — a place we had no distribution — and sold out the show, with the crowd singing every word. It was at that point I knew just how special what was happening with us — and the scene — was.
Armor For Sleep were one of our favorite new bands when we started touring. We would listen to their first album over and over and over in the van. Eventually we met them at Furnace Fest in 2003, and hit it off right away. We did tons of tours and they became close friends. I kept in touch with Ben [Jorgensen, Armor For Sleep's singer] over the years, and I'm so happy they're back at it! Can't wait to watch them.
Sleeping With Sirens — Kellin Quinn, singer
Photo: Nick Stafford
Warped Tour definitely stands out [as a core memory from this time]! Watching my favorite bands as a kid play the festival, and then come full circle and be invited back as many times as we did. I'll remember those summers forever.
When you're in it, it's difficult to see it with perspective… I think all I can say is that "the scene" is just accessible enough without being your parents' music, ya know? We're truly humbled to be a part of this festival and to have helped shape the scene in whatever capacity. [Jimmy Eat World's] Bleed American was a huge album for me! Very excited to watch them play! I'll be singing every word.
State Champs — Ryan Scott Graham, bassist
Photo: Alex McDonell
When I found emo music, it was obviously at a very pivotal time in my life. I was an insecure kid in middle school looking for myself in a number of ways. I didn't know the first thing about this style of music until a friend invited me to a local show. On a whim, I went, and it changed everything for me. The weird, rejected kids like me became the cool kids on stage with guitars, singing about their confusion and angst.
The nostalgia of this scene takes me back to those years that I began to look so fondly upon. It became the career trajectory I followed because I wanted to write songs to make other people feel less alone. Despite some of the corniness that came along with those years of early pop-punk and emo, it is deeply emotional to me in a sort of salvation-like way.
So many artists I love and respect are playing this festival, but one I'm most excited to see is Dashboard Confessional. I've never seen Chris [Carrabba] play live after all these years listening and being a fan.
DC was and is so important to me personally as a songwriter. I remember sitting in the backseat on long drives listening to burnt CDs of Dashboard songs, just dissecting the lyrics and falling in love with the acoustic guitar. It's one of the reasons I started my career as an acoustic artist — Dashboard really showed me the beauty in the simplicity of just a guitar and a voice. The fact that his song arrangements were so interesting without massive production was inspiring and pushed me to start making songs of my own following that recipe. As long as he plays something from Swiss Army Romance, I'll be good!
My initial reaction to getting the offer to play was bliss! It's funny, because we've been doing State Champs for a long time and have had the opportunity to do a lot of really cool things — travel the world, [play] main stages at big festivals, support arena bands, etc. But WWWY Fest, for whatever reason, encouraged a lot of people that I went to middle and high school with — and haven't talked to in ages — to reach out and say,"Holy s—! I can't believe you guys are playing with Paramore, that's so cool!"
I'm like,"Out of everything we've been doing for the last 8-10 years, this is the first time you've taken notice?" In a way it's encouraging, because it feels like we're still breaking new ground as a band. I couldn't be more stoked!
Story of the Year — Ryan Phillips, guitarist
Photo: Ryan Phillips
This was a very important time for us, because we played an undeniable role in bringing "screamo" to the mainstream. We were one of the first of a small number of bands in the genre that had a platinum record and legitimate success on mainstream radio. The scene was exploding, and we were right there, bringing it to the masses.
2002 is a year that completely changed the trajectory of my life. Everyone in the band grew up in St. Louis, all products of working-class families, all playing in bands together, and laying the foundations of what would become Story of the Year. That year, we left everything and everyone we knew, and moved to Southern California to be closer to the music industry and chase teenage dreams of record deals and touring the world. We had no money, and knew like three people in CA, but our band was our life.
That move (and year) is actually one of my fondest memories, because we were so hungry, but also incredibly unaware to the point of total naivety. But, there can be immense power in being young and not knowing s—. If we would have known that the odds of leaving your mom's basement, moving to CA with no money, and getting a major-label record deal and a platinum record were about 1 in 10 million, we would have never left. I would be a fireman or something.
You get older and stop taking shots, because you are too aware of the odds of failure. You have perspective, less willing to risk. In 2002, we were innocent, but total savages, and no force of nature could have stopped us. It didn't even occur to us that we could fail. We were that driven, and, yes, that naive. Somehow it worked out!
Glassjaw was and is one of my favorite bands of all time. I remember doing Warped Tour with them, and it was part of my daily routine to go watch their set. I feel like half of the bands playing Warped would go watch their set. They were that band. They set the bar for honest, hyper-credible music with understated musicianship — in my mind, anyway.
I completely understood why so many people initially thought [this festival] was fake. Seeing the promo for it was like looking at my entire CD book in 2006! Literally every band from the genre. Of course we were flattered, and supremely stoked to be on a bill with so many of our friends. Unreal!
The Used — Bert McCracken, singer
Photo: Anthony Tran
The bands around that time wrote in a different way than before, bands in the '90s. I think the reason why it's called emo is because it was so close to the heart and from personal experience. That's what made it so special.
It was just an exciting time. There were lots of bands coming up. Lots of really cool experiences, lots of opportunities for bands — the Warped Tour was still huge.
Our record had just come out, and we were playing on the small Volcom stage at Warped Tour. All the power went out during "The Taste of Ink," and the whole crowd sang it a cappella. We were all like, "Holy s—. Something's happening." They immediately moved us to the main stage, which was pretty crazy.
Clarity from Jimmy Eat World was really a big [album] for me growing up. It kind of introduced me to a different side of this post-hardcore that I was into. I loved the early-on emo bands, Texas Is The Reason, Casket Lottery — a lot of those bands that are kind of obscure and nobody's heard of them, but they really started this whole scene. And Jimmy Eat World was around during that time, just they were just a lot more melodic and melodically friendly. It was really, really cool to hear that.
Black Sails in the Sunset by AFI was also really special to me. I have a picture of me and Davey Havok from when I was like 14. They were playing with Good Riddance, and I waited after the show to meet him and got a picture. And then on Warped Tour, I went up to him, under his little umbrella, and I was like, "Hey, check this out, a picture of me and you like 15 years ago." He thought it was awesome. He's a nice guy.
This is all the big bands from that time. [On] Warped Tour, you'd maybe have one or two, but this is a serious ordeal. We're more than excited to be part of the early emo scene. We're so grateful, and we're so lucky to still be doing this 22 years later.
We're all older and a little more fragile. But it's still a thrashing emo show. I'm ready for it.
We The Kings — Travis Clark, singer/guitarist
Photo: Lee Cherry
I was a freshman in high school when this era was really starting to hit. I used to sneak into Warped Tour, because I couldn't afford a ticket, and watch as many bands as I could. There are probably only a handful of bands that I haven't seen play, and even less that we haven't done a show with.
I feel lucky just being a kid in that musical era, because it was really the one thing that made me feel like I was part of something. Ultimately, it led to me starting We The Kings.
Our first record was released on Oct. 2nd, 2007, and that week we were taking our song "Check Yes Juliet" to Top 40 radio. It ended up charting and playing on every radio station in the country. Hearing it on the radio for the first time is something that I will never forget.
I was at the beach in my hometown, Anna Maria Island, [Florida,] and as I started my Jeep, I heard, "Check yes Juliet, are you with me, rain is falling down on the sidewalk…" I remember thinking that it was weird, because I didn't have our CD in the CD player. After about 20 seconds, I realized that it was playing on the biggest radio station in Florida and I lost my mind. The song ended up taking off and selling around 2 million singles worldwide. That to me will always seem crazy, and for us, it really was the biggest thing that put us on the musical map.
I thought [this festival] was fake. As I was reading the artist lineup, I just kept thinking, No way. Nope. Absolutely no way this is real. There are just so many amazing bands playing on the same day. This is literally going to go down as the greatest musical festival ever — and in my opinion, I'm not exaggerating. We feel really grateful to have been invited.
There are too many bands on the lineup that I have seen before and have a memory of, but if I had to choose one, it would be Jimmy Eat World. They were one of the very first bands that I saw in concert. At the time they were opening for Blink-182 and Green Day (such a crazy lineup!). As soon as Jimmy Eat World played their first note, I was absolutely hooked. For 40 minutes I saw them absolutely shred their set. I went home after seeing that concert and started We The Kings.
Fast forward a few years, I met Jim Atkins at the Bamboozle Festival we were both playing and I was introduced to him by our mutual publicist. I got the chance to tell him that his band was the reason that I started WTK. The coolest thing was right after I said that, he goes, "Oh that's awesome, I really like that 'Juliet' song, it's super catchy." I basically died in that moment.
I was so inspired by the festival that I went into the studio a few weeks after we received our invite and I wrote a song called "When We Were Young" with the same nostalgic sound that We The Kings is known for. We've been asked to play just about every festival in the world and I have never done that before, so am I excited? The answer "YES" is an incredible understatement.
Photo: Joe Termini
How 'Love Sux' Led Avril Lavigne To True Love, Her First Fangirl Moment And An Album Process That Was 'Just Stupid Fun'
Twenty years into her career, Avril Lavigne is arguably the happiest she’s ever been, and it shows in her seventh LP, 'Love Sux.' Despite being a breakup album, it’s full of upbeat guitar-heavy anthems — and that’s the best part about it.
If you've ever been so beaten down by love that you just want to give up, Avril Lavigne knows what you're going through. Now, she's delivering a full soundtrack for it.
Love Sux, the seventh studio album from the Canadian pop-punk veteran, is an amped-up rock fest of catharsis. From the first rips of electric guitar on opener "Cannonball" to the declarative final line on album closer "Break of a Heartache," Lavigne takes a refreshing approach on a breakup album, employing both a sense of humor and a wave of confidence.
It's a continuation of the relentless spirit Lavigne has displayed since her GRAMMY-nominated debut, Let Go, which turns 20 this June. Only this time, she's older, wiser and, ironically, in love.
During the album's creation, Lavigne began dating fellow pop-punker MOD SUN, one of her main collaborators on the project. But that didn't alter the "Bite Me" singer's scorned attitude on Love Sux, and it resulted in what she refers to as "a love letter to women."
Ahead of the LP's release, GRAMMY.com caught up with Lavigne to discuss the gratifying process of Love Sux, how it's a culmination of her career, and why — even despite her current relationship status — she stands by the album's jaded sentiment.
Pop-punk has always been part of who you are as an artist, but how did you get back into that mindset and vibe after making 2019’s Head Above Water, which pivoted away from that style?
Because Head Above Water was so full of ballads and emotional and just like, deep, I felt like I was definitely ready to f<em></em>*ing rock. I just wanted to have fun, have a good time, and make an upbeat record.
I have a silly personality, so even though I'm talking about how love sucks — and I really, truly was feeling that way, burnt out and jaded on love, when I started this album — it's very lighthearted and there's a sense of humor in the songs.
This is the kind of music that I fell in love with when I was old enough to buy my own tapes and CDs, in like, grade nine, and discovering bands like Offspring, Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day. Before I started writing my own record, I was gravitating towards guitar-driven music. Even though some of my albums have pivoted a bit, all my concerts carry this spirit and energy in them.
This album is also a record I've wanted to make for a long time. I had my freedom…I didn't have a label or managers at the time, and I just went in the studio like, "Alright, time to rock all the way through. No holding back here."
Besides the creative freedom you had on it, what makes this album feel different?
Production-wise, it's the most alternative. Everyone was always trying to tell me to dial it back. I didn't have to, and I didn't care.
This far into my career, it's like, I don't have to be doing this. I'm doing it because I truly want to and I just want to have so much fun. Every album you go in kind of feeling a certain type of way stylistically, sonically, production-wise — this is just where I felt like, in my life, I wanna have fun, I wanna rock out.
How did that play into the direction you took lyrically?
Lyrically, I had just gotten out of a relationship, and I was reflecting on that. Because I had so much time in the pandemic to songwrite, I was looking back at my whole life, and love, the ups and downs, and the things I've gone through — the stuff I've seen, and the lessons I've learned — and put it into my music.
I do write about love a lot, but now the difference is, I'm writing from the perspective of a woman. My first album, I was just out of high school, so I was writing about skater boys. [Laughs.]
It was your first time working with both MOD SUN and veteran pop-punk producer John Feldmann — what did they bring to your creation process?
I felt like we all complemented each other, and they understood me. We all came from the same background, so we spoke the same language. Pop-punk is so easy for all of us. We all do it in our sleep. So it was just stupid fun.
I love Feldy's guitar playing. I think everything he does is cool. I personally think those two really get what "cool" is. It's hard to explain that to somebody.
When I write songs, I hear them a certain way in my head. A lot of times, you write a song and when you record it, you have to sit there and explain to the producer that you don't actually like what they did. [Laughs.]
I could not find a good producer on my last album. It literally took me a year. I had to take Head Above Water to, like, five different producers. I met John Feldmann, and I was like, "Where have you been? I could have used you the last 10 years of my life!"
Would you have ever thought that writing an album called Love Sux would actually lead you to falling in love? The irony of that is pretty hilarious.
I know! I was pretty closed off. I just needed a break. I was like, "I'm over it." And then I was having fun, and it was just like, "Whatever, f<em></em>* it." I was using my head, but then I followed my heart, I guess.
Oftentimes breakup albums can wallow in self pity and lament a relationship, even when the person singing isn't necessarily the one that screwed it up. You're just like, "No, I just want to say 'F you.'" I feel like this is the album women have been looking for.
I'm really happy to hear that. I just write from my experiences, and I tried to be super authentic. I make sure that I personally love everything, then throw it out there and hope that people love it. It's always really cool to hear that people can relate to the things that I've gone through, or they take the song and make it their own in their own way.
I imagine that that's kind of a big reason why you've called this album "a love letter to women," because it's speaking from your experience and not taking anybody else's experience into account. And if you've been screwed by a lot by men, then that's what you're going to write about.
I can see you two getting along very well.
She sang my song "Breakaway" and made it a huge hit. I thought that was so cool. She was like, "Oh my god, thank you for that song, by the way!" And I was like, "No, thank you for making it massive."
Was there a lyric you remember writing and thinking, "Oh, man, that's a badass lyric"?
"Love Sux" is one of my favorites. I was literally like, "Oh, not another breakup." So it was like [Sings] "Nah, nah, nah, not another break up/ When I think of you I just want to throw up." That's funny, but it's so true. When you go through a breakup you literally just feel sick to your stomach.
I just feel like I articulated myself perfectly on that song. "Love is so overrated, got me feeling jaded." It's nice for me to have a sense of humor about it. And I like that the album is lighter and fun — you're talking about breakups and stuff, but it's not heavy and dark. It's just fun and making fun of it.
That was the first time that I've ever had a fangirl moment. It was a "pinch me" moment. Like, "This is really cool. I listened to this band in high school."
I was really blown away by how talented he was. Obviously, I know he is, but seeing him work and write, I was just really impressed with his skills. He was writing really fast, and he'd record his part, then he'd lay his vocals, then he'd lay down the bass. I was just like, "Wow, this guy is so talented." I loved everything he was coming up with. That was pretty up there for me.
So now that you're 20 years in, where do you see things going in the next 20 years?
When I was younger, I was like, "I just want to do this for forever." That's sort of my plan, just to keep making music. I've got this album, and the tour. Keep going, keep having fun.
I'm gonna feel it out each year, what I'm in the mood for — if I want to take a break, take a break, if I want to keep going, keep going. This year, I'm definitely ready to go on tour.
You hardly look any different than you did 20 years ago, but do you feel any different, considering you're now in your late 30s?
I pretty much feel the same other than, like, I definitely can't drink as much as I used to [Laughs].
When you think back to 17-year-old Avril in 2002, and where you thought your career was headed once big things started happening, how does that compare to what actually happened and where you're at now?
I never thought that this would happen on this level. Hearing myself on the radio for the first time was crazy. I feel really blessed and really lucky.
This is such a special and unique situation. The fan base is just so passionate and they've been so supportive. They're the reason why I'm still here 20 years later, and why everything took off on the first album.
I never would have seen any of this coming. I truly just loved music and writing. I didn't even know what Hollywood was — I just knew I wanted to sing, and I loved to write, and I loved to play guitar. And then all this happened!
I'm definitely living my dream. And today, it's still just as much fun as it was before.