The Cold Stares

Blud­geon­ing their au­di­ences, this is one alt.blues duo you can’t take your eyes off.

Classic Rock - - The Dirt - Moun­tain is out now via OurFans Records.

“When we played for the first time, the crowd looked like they’d

just wit­nessed a mur­der.”

The Cold Stares thrive on low ex­pec­ta­tions. The In­di­ana-based duo like noth­ing bet­ter than a sea of dis­in­ter­ested faces at their gigs, and buzz off the sup­port slots that make lesser bands sweat. That just makes it even sweeter when Chris Tapp fires up his bat­tery of amps, Brian Mullins takes a seat be­hind his mon­ster kick drum and all hell is un­leashed.

“We’ve opened for so many big bands where peo­ple haven’t come to see us,” says Tapp. “And I’m proud when we get the open mouths. Our live show is bru­tal. When we played to­gether for the first time, the crowd looked like they’d just wit­nessed a mur­der.”

That jaw-dropping live prow­ess – along with songs that fuse smoky south­ern blues with jack­ham­mer alt.rock – quickly el­e­vated The Cold Stares above the pack af­ter Tapp and Mullins formed the band in their na­tive Ken­tucky.

“This band be­came of­fi­cial in 2011,” re­calls the front­man. “There was a con­test at the Hard Rock Café. The guy run­ning the place suck­ered us into do­ing it, and we ended up win­ning the damn thing. Af­ter that we were on the news and on tele­vi­sion. So we were like: ‘Shit, I guess we’d bet­ter put some­thing to­gether…’”

But that fan­tas­ti­cal start was cut short. “We had la­bels like Is­land Records and Hol­ly­wood Records fly­ing in to see us,” says Tapp, “and peo­ple in­ter­ested in sign­ing us. Then I found out I had can­cer. And that knocked all that out. We had about two and a half years that we were pretty much side­tracked. But that was part of our story. And af­ter go­ing through chemo and ra­di­a­tion, and get­ting past it, we ended up get­ting an­other record deal and kept it go­ing.”

While writ­ing their lat­est al­bum, Moun­tain, Tapp chan­nelled those dark times. The stormy slide-blues of Wade In The Dark­ness ref­er­ences his ill­ness, while the haunted Killing Ma­chine be­moans the cul­ture of vi­o­lence swal­low­ing their na­tion (“It goes through dif­fer­ent wars and the slaugh­ter of Amer­i­can In­di­ans,” Tapp ex­plains). But on the flip-side, mo­ments like foot-down rocker The Great Un­known cap­ture the rush of be­ing young, alive and record­ing in Los An­ge­les. “No­body ever went to LA to make a record and got a good night’s sleep,” Mullins of­fers. “That was never part of the dream.”

“We were out there in East­West Stu­dios,” Tapp re­calls. “We rented a Porsche and a Corvette and raced around the Hol­ly­wood Hills. Af­ter go­ing through can­cer, you want to live. And we lived. You’re on this rock just a short time, and the pur­pose of be­ing here is not al­ways clear. I think you have to make ev­ery day some­thing.”

That new-found phi­los­o­phy per­haps ex­plains why The Cold Stares are sworn to ride the mo­men­tum of Moun­tain as far as it takes them. And if that means there’s a lit­tle more ex­pec­ta­tion sur­round­ing the duo, then so be it. “We gotta make a good run with this record,” Tapp says. “This is the big one.” HY

FOR FANS OF...“We ref­er­ence Sab­bath and Led Zep­pelin, and we’re big fans of Clutch,” says Tapp, “but our south­ern in­flu­ence has prob­a­bly come fromThe Black Crowes.” Mullins: “I lean to­wards The South­ern Har­mony And Mu­si­cal Com­pan­ion. That al­bum hit me at the right time. I was grow­ing up a lit­tle bit mu­si­cally. It had a ma­tu­rity to it.”

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