Jim Logan, vocalist of 5 Elements, believes the band's new album, "Enter The Zao." embodies more of a clear album feel.
The release is also the band's first album with new lead guitarist, Dan Newsome (a.k.a. Danzao), hence the name ''Enter The Zao.''
"Newsome really gave this album a different sound from our previous material with hints of blues guitar, surf rock, and crunchy distorted punk riffs. It's a very guitar-driven album with a lot of crazy riffs," Logan said.
The band - Logan, vocals and scratches; Tony Parent, drums; Josh Warnock, vocals and guitar; Nick Barbush, vocals and percussion; Kevin Gallite, bass; and Newsome, lead guitar - will celebrate the release of the disc with a show Friday at Cedar's Lounge in Youngstown.
Over the years, 5 Elements successfully has fused the punk energy of the Bad Brains, the reggae spirit of Gregory Isaacs and the hip-hop splendor of the Beastie Boys. In fact, Logan said that the Beastie Boys were a big influence of the band while recording, "Enter The Zao."
''No one could really label the Beastie Boys as just a hip-hop group, or just a punk rock group. With the Beastie Boys, you get a hip-hop song, followed by a hardcore punk song, followed by an instrumental jazz song. Each song sounds completely different from the last, but they all complement each other. That's the kind of feeling we strived to accomplish with our new album," Logan said.
When You Go
WHO: 5 Elements and Rare Breed
WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Cedar's Lounge, 23 N. Hazel St., Youngstown
HOW MUCH: $5
In 2008, 5 Elements released their first self-titled full-length album, which is also accompanied with a DVD of the band's live performances. The band also has released two EPs. Logan said he believes the new release, recorded with engineer and producer Larry Serb at Boardman's Don't Touch That Studio, reflects some significant musical growth.
"With 'Enter The Zao,' we went into the recording process with the idea of making an album that feels like a set list that listeners would hear at a 5 Elements concert,'' Logan said. ''The album includes some reggae-rock songs, some fast, heavy punk songs, some hip hop, a little ska, dub and even beatboxing"
Logan said that the album includes tracks that musically capture the band's sound, including the energetic reggae/punk gem, "Champion Sound" and the hip-hop crowd pleaser "Texas Toast." The band even pays homage to reggae legend Gregory Isaacs with a cover of his classic 1982 song "Night Nurse."
"We've been playing covers of Isaacs's music since we first started playing shows. He was one of the first artists who got us interested in Reggae music back when we were just teenagers. Isaacs passed away just a few years ago, so we decided to pay tribute to the man who inspired us so much by putting a song of his on the recording, but giving it our own unique twist," Logan said.
The album also takes listeners back to the glory days of Nintendo during the 1980s. Logan said the band had many crazy ideas for the album and Larry Serb helped bring these ideas into fruition.
"The album is kind of a riff on old-school video games as is the CDs art and the intro on the CD. Working with Larry Serb was an incredible experience and I feel as if this album is just as much his album as it is ours. Any crazy idea we had such as mic-ing up an old Nintendo system for the intro, he was happy to make it work," Logan said.
Serb said the video game theme for the album came about when Barbush was designing the band's webpage. Barbush wanted to include the game, "Mang Invader's" on the band's webpage. Serb stepped in and had an even better suggestion. Serb incorporated a Nintendo in the mix.
"Just for something entertaining for the band's website, I suggested that they do some 8-bit renditions of their songs as the background music,'' Serb said. ''That same night when I got home, I had to hear what it would sound like and then had two tunes transformed to 8-bit versions in about 45 minutes. The band ended up really digging it and I did two more songs, which eventually their made way onto the disc. This ended up with the NES-style artwork to sync it up.''
Serb said that the main objective when putting together "Enter The Zao," was to create a full-length album that captures the feel of a video game.
"The album is complete with the infamous NES freeze followed by the blowing on the cartridge remedy. Suffice to say, that was the first and probably only time I will ever mic a Nintendo in my life. Most importantly, we wanted 5 Elements to sound like 5 Elements, which is simply organic and not overly produced and edited," Serb said.
When making this recording, Serb and the band evenly balanced creativity with organic structure.
''We just let things take shape naturally and in most cases, particularly with lead guitar, it was free-formed. On the electronic material, we just experimented with different styles and didn't over analyze," Serb said.
Logan said the band plans on continuously playing shows, writing new music and most importantly, gaining fans in the process.
"We are trying to get on more all ages shows at places like The House of Blues in Cleveland and Mr. Small's in Pittsburgh,'' Logan said.''We've been playing shows all over Ohio and PA as well as different festivals and house parties. When we aren't playing shows, we are always eager to get back into the studio.''