It may be very hot out here on the outskirts of Houston but it is by no means wilting the spirits of the thousands that have begun congregating around the gates of this amphitheater. The electric smell of a rock concert about to happen has permeated the grounds with a stench that sticks to your sweat beads and won’t drip off. There are many in costume, from toddlers to aging rockers, who have faithfully painted black stars on their faces and positioned frizzy wigs atop their everyday haircuts.
Some are even making gross attempts at Gene tongue for the cameras of giddy girls young enough to be Gene’s daughters. But it’s all in good fun. No one is snickering crudely at ill-fitting fake leather pants or greying chest hair. They are slapping hands and holding conversations with fantasy chasers whom they are meeting for the first time. KISS fans draw a diehard bunch who are instantly kneaded together into a family of Black Diamonds and Dr. Loves.
And then suddenly there is the sound of a cracking whip guitar, slicing through the bright sunlight and out run a bunch of young bucks with flying hair and British accents. This is not KISS and this is not Motley Crue. This is The Treatment,
a band causing humongous ripples everywhere they play opening THE TOUR.
They surprise everyone. No one was expecting this little band of unknowns to win them over so easily, and like a greedy fish snapping at a worm infested hook they leave the beer tent and listen. Arms gradually lift and start to pump out a rhythm. Eyebrows raise and choruses are picked up quickly enough to join in before the song ends. Houston is being won over song by song. And by the end, they stand and look out over a sold out ocean and know they are no longer just a no-name group of teenagers with musical instruments. They are a band that has prepared thousands of people for not one but two superstar rock bands and they did not fail.
is still a young band in every sense of the word, having released one record in the UK last year which is only now being set loose on American airwaves. They must be doing something right as they hit the American New Artist charts just a pimple away from the top 50 and at the end of their set in Houston, concert goers hit the merch tent to pick up This Might Hurt. The band – vocalist Matt Jones, guitar players Tag Grey and Ben Brockland, bass player Swoggle and founding member drummer Dhani Mansworth – head over there immediately to meet and greet with all their new fans. Their smiles are wide with excitement as the compliments fall upon their ears. This is the life of a young rock & roller. This is what the fables have led them to believe in. This is only the beginning. In 30 more years, they could be the new generation’s Motley Crue.
Playing a short set that hummed with electrical current, The Treatment treated Houston to such songs as “I Fear Nothing”, “Shake The Mountain”, “The Doctor” and “Drink Fuck Fight”. Want to see what a band looks like before the road miles of touring, partying, recording, struggling, hoping and dreaming has fallen upon them? Then don’t be late to the show.
Motley Crue can attest to all of the above labors of love. They have partied harder than most, fought amongst themselves and remained intact - give or take a few years when being Motley Crue was NOT high on their priority list - kept touring despite injuries and insults, recorded million sellers and bottom rungers, and most importantly have survived everything a band can go through. And the war wounds show at times.
Having seen them on tour last year, I have personally witnessed a band taking the right lane at the crossroads. Running over the detour sign, they have brought along some little gadgets to spruce up what is virtually the same set list from their last tour, namely Nikki Sixx hoisting a flame-spewing bass and the band slowly walking out through the crowd with smoke and hoods and medieval-like flags.
he biggest highlight of any Crue show is definitely Mick Mars.
He is one of the finest most indispensable members of the band, and has for years sat by unconcerned with the lack of accolades when lists are being prepared of the top guitar players. He is the pulse of this band. From a bluesy slow-burn solo on “Home Sweet Home” to an apocalyptic killing fields hemorrhage of guitar notes on “Live Wire”, Mars ran the gauntlet of why he is a mighty force still.
Second highlight of the Crue set is Tommy Lee’s
bad ass rollercoaster drum set. Give the man some credit when devising his drum escapades year after year. He always pulls something cool out of his black-haired noggin that gets the kids of all ages spiked up. Add in a fan strapped to his back to go on the ride of their life is yet another reason why Motley fails to grow cold.
Highlight number three – the always raunchy sound of “Dr Feelgood”. Although Vince Neil’s
vocals were a little off-kilter on this one, the band pulled back and brought it nasty. Up until then (& for the most part, afterwards), Neil was in good vocal form, hitting his notes and springing across the stage, making sure all in attendance were having a good time. “There’s nothing like sweating at a rock concert,” he announced happily.
Crue’s latest single, “Sex”, actually came across quite well, following in the vein of their usual healthy dose of naughty lyrics and grungy bass and drums. Opening with “Saints Of Los Angeles” and the Tommy Lee barn burning drum intro to “Wild Side”, Crue went spiraling into the dusk shouting at the devil and kick-starting hearts. Appearing for the most part to be comrades-in-arms once again, a la banging fists prior to “Home Sweet Home” and smiling more than I’ve seen them do in quite a while, this tour has at least brought a spring back into their step. Sixx brought more oomph to his bass playing, invoking images of a young spiky-haired Shout At The Devil songwriter who has been getting more titillation from his side band, the popular Sixx:AM, than from his first born.
And then there was smoke and lasers and explosions, bright colors and Gene’s tongue, “Black Diamond” and “Cold Gin”. A KISS fan’s wet dream. If KISS is anything, they are faithful to what has made them icons from the 70’s. But KISS dropped an atomic bomb with evil make-up, fire and blood, huge devil-eyed boots and songs about life on the streets and all night partying. They scared parents and little children. But for others, they were too good to be true: they represented rebelliousness and creatures of the night and loud guitars and gnarly larger than life superheroes. They weren’t the butt of jokes back then. KISS brought with them that larger than life image of what they once were; when KISS was original and new and their songs were filled with original sin - something that Motley Crue grabbed and upped the anti with soft-core porn-like lyrics and believable bad ass drama.
It would be easy to sit here and criticize the band for never veering too far from their original selves: guitar player Tommy Thayer
reenacting Ace Frehley’s exact moves on “Black Diamond”; Gene lasciviously showing his tongue and then belching blood during his bass solo; and Paul Stanley begging people to call out his name so he can fly across them and sing on a platform. That scenario would be lazy and unfocused on the part of the person supposedly being objective. If you turn off the preconceived notions and any uppity airs, you’ll hear something fun. “Black Diamond” was the best song of the night, with it’s delicate Stanley guitar intro and the raging hormone lyrics of what youth felt like when a switchblade was your companion and not a guitar (thanks Ace). “Detroit Rock City” has always been a great show starter and “Rock & Roll All Nite” has always been a great concert ender. And the new song “Hell Or Hallelujah” gives promise with it’s harder sound to the upcoming record, Monster
, coming out in October.
Despite the whispers that this tour was put together simply to make money, people of all ages came running through the gates because they wanted to see KISS, live on a stage, in make-up, singing some of their biggest hits. That’s what the fans wanted and that’s what they were given. It’s as simple as that.
“You don’t want to go home yet, do you?” asked Stanley as they emerged for their encore. “They tell us there is a curfew here but they said we could do one more song. But you know what, we’re at least going to do two and I’m thinking we ought to do one that goes right back to the first album. We ought to do one that’s as old school as we can get. So here’s one we haven’t rehearsed but it doesn’t matter cause it’s in our blood, in our DNA” and off KISS rolled doing what they do best: excite with everything an arsenal of lights, pyro, fake blood and screaming guitars can do. And no one went home disappointed.
A few days following THE TOUR touching down in Houston, Glide
had the opportunity to talk with The Treatment’s Matt Jone
s about opening one of the biggest tours of the summer, what it’s like to be on the cusp of breaking big time, and how the heat is just not their friend.
How does it feel having all this attention thrown on you all of a sudden and has it been what you expected it to be like?
It’s been wonderful so far. We’ve all had such a good time on this tour already, and we’re only three weeks in, you know. All the bands have been brilliant to us, KISS and Motley Crue. I think we’ve met everyone, and they are really, really nice. The Crue are great and we’re just so excited to be out here in America. It’s the first time we’ve been here and as kids you always dream of coming here and it’s been unbelievable. Has it been everything that you thought it would be?
This is definitely the biggest thing we’ve ever done before. And yeah, it’s completely what we expected. We were expecting everything to be big (laughs). England is a very small country, you know. But yeah, it’s been everything we expected. The crowds have been great towards us and really welcoming and we’re just having a great, great time.
What has been one of your highlights so far?
The highlight so far is literally just being here. Cause like I said, we’re having such a good time and it’s something that is so different than being back in the UK. Every day is a highlight cause it’s a new experience and just the fact that we’re here doing what we’re doing and loving it and just being really appreciative of being here, really.What happens when this tour ends?
We’ve got a little bit of time off. We come home and are really not doing anything in October. Then we go out to play with Thin Lizzy; I think it’s the end of November, the beginning of December. So a little bit of time off then straight back on to touring again.Are you coming back over to America?
Hopefully so, but don’t know when though. But hopefully we’ll be back here as soon as we can cause, like I said, we’re absolutely loving it and we want to get back out here as soon as possible.I heard that one thing that is NOT a highlight for you guys so far has been the heat.
(laughs) Yeah, being English we’re not used to being in this kind of heat. It’s raining and cold all the time so it seems weird seeing the sun (laughs) ) Yeah, today it’s 115 outside, which is just crazy. It’s actually four times hotter than any English summer. Your CD, This Might Hurt, was just released here in America but it’s been out a little while in Europe, correct?
Yeah, it came out in September last year back home in England and Europe but it’s been out about a month now over here in the States.
And I hear that you hit the American New Artist charts as well so that must be exciting.
When we heard the news we were so excited about it cause you come out here and think it’s going to be a slow seller and might take a little while to take notice but to come in at #55 is unbelievable and we were so happy about that.Dhani’s father, who is your manager, has been in the business for a very long time. What kind of advice has he given to you?
He’s taken care of us since we were really, really young, and he’s shown us that we have to go in with a good attitude and be prepared that you’ve got to put your whole life into it because you’ve got to put everything into it if you want to get somewhere. So from the very beginning, he’s kind of given us the completely right attitude and completely right advice and we’re grateful to have someone like him guiding us cause he knows exactly what he’s doing. So we’re very, very blessed to have him.Where exactly are you from, Matt?
I’m originally from a place called Norwich, which is in the east of England. I actually was kind of originally from North London but then my family moved out to the east of England and then when I was eighteen I joined the band so I moved down to Cambridge. So I’ve kind lived all around England, really. Kind of strange (laughs)Is your family musical?
Yeah, my whole mum’s side of the family is quite musical. My Grandma played piano and my mum played flute. Then I kind of picked up singing when I was really, really little and kind of went with that really.You don’t look like you’re very shy up there on stage. Was there ever a time when you were nervous, like when you first started performing in front of a crowd?
Oh yeah, for sure. It’s taken a little while for me to be able to get to what I’m doing now. I’m naturally quite a shy person so going on stage the very first few times that we played together live, I was probably really, really bad (laughs). We’ve all come a long way the last few years.
Who would you say is your biggest influence as a singer?
For me growing up it was definitely Freddie Mercury, Rod Stewart and Ian Gillan. Those were the three that I heard and thought, yeah, I want to do that.Has the Crue or KISS guys given you any advice?
Not really. They’ve seen that we’re quite the level-headed guys and they know that Laurie [Mansworth, band manager] is great at what he does. Whenever we’ve spoken to them they’ve just kind of chatted to us really about kind of normal stuff, which is kind of nice cause I’m sure they just want to talk about normal stuff as well. The weirdest moment was when we were sitting down having dinner and Gene Simmons comes up and said hi but he was wearing the whole kind of makeup and boots and armor and all that kind of stuff. And we’re sitting around eating dinner and he’s talking to us about the Tv show Top Gear, which is kind of surreal (laughs).You seem like you’re having fun and that’s probably the best thing that a young band like you guys can do.
Yeah, we’re having an absolute ball and hopefully when we come on stage that’s what people see and they want to get involved in that. Positivity is so much better than negativity and I think people latch onto that when they see the people on stage. That’s what we try to go out on stage and be like cause we want people to have a good time.Ben said in an interview recently that the worst thing a young band can do is become a cliché. Is that a big part of your band’s philosophy?
Yeah, obviously we don’t want to become stagnant and do the same thing over and over again. We want to grow and become a better band and write better songs and stuff like that. We don’t want to make the same album next time be exactly the same as this one and we don’t want to have the same show every day. So to become a cliché and become something predictable that’s boring, isn’t it. That’s definitely something we want to stay clear of.Have you started writing for a new record yet? Because you have a lot of momentum going for you right now.
Yeah, we write all the time and we actually record at home. We have a studio in Laurie’s house where we all live. So we’ve actually probably got about half the next album ready already. I mean, we’ve played two new songs [“World On Fire” and “Get The Party On”] in the live set now. So yeah, we’re getting prepared for the next one. I have to ask you: What is your favorite KISS and Crue song?
Ooh, that’s a good question. For me, I know they’re probably really predictable, but there is a reason why they are popular. To me, my favorite KISS tune is “Lick It Up” and for Motley Crue it’s “Dr Feelgood.” I know they’re really predictable and I know they’re really played but there’s a reason for that cause they’re great tunes.