GUITARIST | SONGWRITER
8 out of 10 stars
Short but sweet debut!
Despite consisting of only five songs, Under The Influence is a mighty selection of songs hinting at what Thief In The Night could achieve. What sets them apart is the intensity of their material, and the immense vocals of Johnny Rossa.
Chasing Utopia, with its grinding riffs and infectious chorus, is a statement of intent in the vein of Soundgarden, and Breaking Through (Out Of The Darkness) nods in the direction of Ozzy Osbourne. Yet Thief In The Night manage to add their own individual flourishes on these truly memorable performances, not least on the juddering Broken Beyond Repair. The only concern is whether this momentum can be maintained on a truly full-length release.
The CD was primarily recorded at producer Rafael Moreira's studio, Music Magnet in Los Angeles and the drums were tracked at drummer Randy Cook's studio. 'In total it took just over one year to complete which also included a lot of the writing process besides recording, mixing and mastering. We worked hard to make it creative and unique while keeping it in the familiar realm for the listener so it never gets too outside. The process could have been faster but due to various schedule conflicts that would occur it took time. Those conflicts included our producer's schedule, but when you're working with someone at Rafa's level who as a monster guitarist is in demand touring and recording with top name, world known artists, we had to sometimes work when schedules lined up. Johnny was also touring at the time in the band 'Puddle of Mudd' playing keys, harmonica and backing vocals which also caused some scheduling conflicts. But it was well worth it. When we were working, Rafa was very focused and worked everyone hard. It shows in the entire product. Urban Olsson mixed and mastered the five primary songs and we took our time with that process and Urban did a fantastic job. The end result of all that hard work from everyone shows in the pay off,' he explains.
'Under The Influence' is the latest CD from USA rock band Thief in the Night. The band features powerful and passionate vocals by Johnny Rossa, versatile guitar work of Chris Van Duyn with the priceless support and great grooves of guests Randy Cooke on drums and producer Rafael Moreira on bass. Johnny grew up playing classical piano and went to Indiana University's Music Conservatory. He started his love of singing and being inspired by classic rock bands, such as Led Zeppelin and the 90's grunge take-over led him astray. Chris was the only one in his family driven by music. Being significantly younger than his siblings and not fitting in well at school, music was a great escape and he would spend hours alone listening to his older brothers music. Quickly 'The Beatles', 'Chicago', 'Zeppelin' all caught his ear. Although he started to learn music on his sister's clarinet it was quickly retired once he heard KISS. Once he got a guitar he was quickly playing in garage rock bands which led to performing and gigging where he grew up in the mid-west (of the U.S.) in rock, jazz and R&B groups until he wanted to expand his skills and moved to Hollywood to attend Musician's Institute's GIT (Guitar Institute of Technology). From there it's been a constant evolving path. "We wanted to have music that felt natural and rocked the way our influences have driven us to pursue what we love". Although the music has a very cohesive and unified sound, there is a varying range of musical influences that include 'Led Zeppelin', 'Black Sabbath', 'SoundGarden', 'Rush', 'Black Crowes' and more, all of which made it a logical reason for naming the EP 'Under the Influence.'
The song 'Breaking Through' (featured in this issue's CD) demonstrates a heavy sound with its Sabbath/SoundGarden like odd/mixed meter riff joined with Johnny's incredible heavy vocals evoking lyrics that start dark but take you into the optimistic outcome of breaking out of human darkness. Songs like 'Chasing Utopia' and 'Broken Beyond Repair' seem to have drawn heavily from bands like 'Alter Bridge' as Chris was trying alternate tunings which opened up new ideas. 'No One Else' has aspects of 'Led Zeppelin', 'Black Crowes' and a hint of 'Hendrix.' The title track 'Under the Influence' has aspects of 'Rush' & 'Tool' with an amalgamation of guitar work ranging from Alex Lifeson, David Gilmore, Steve Lukather, Neal Schonn to name a few,' says Chris.
Thief in the Night fascinates the listener with melodies that stick to your ears against passionately played instruments. 'We've had feedback from some that say sonically the material compares to 'Tool' and 'Alice in Chains' however what sets the music apart from others is that although musically it's heavy, riff based rock and can even be dark sounding at times, lyrically most of the songs come from a place that is far from sounding dark nor negative. It makes a nice contrast artistically as it's still very passionate musically but overall most of the lyrics project more optimism. Producer Rafael and guitarist Chris strove for heavy driven riffs; well honed melodies all set against a massive sounding rhythm section; with well placed, occasional odd & mixed meters but made sure they flowed well; nothing feels forced. 'The goal of a natural organic feel throughout was achieved' he tells me. Some say their latest EP is hard rock; it's metal; it's classic rock. 'Regardless of narrowing it to a genre, it is for anyone who loves the beating heart of good rock music of the 70's-90's with a fresh modern sound breathing through it. A major intent from the start was to have a big sound yet have the performance be realistically reproducible live and that goal was achieved. Sonically this album sounds fantastic and as good as anything out there and the feedback and reviews support that. Johnny's immense vocals are always clear even when he's blasting out notes with the power that rivals Chris Cornell or Robert Plant. The guitars sound huge with most of it played using Chris' PRS and Gibson ES-335 guitars through Bogner Shiva amplifiers with some acoustic work on his Breedlove guitars. 'Rafa (producer) and I agreed at the get go to not have it be over produced in terms of layers and layers of instrumentation and vocals that would never be realistic to reproduce live. To 'keep it real." The excellence of the musicianship as well is significant. Johnny's vocals are strong, powerful and soulful. In one word they are amazing! Not only is Randy Cooke's drum work solid with such incredibly sophisticated technical playing balanced with in the pocket solid groove. The drums sound fantastic.
Chasing Utopia, truth or lie?
Friend or the enemy, you decide?
Chasing Utopia, it's time to see
Only the truth, can set us free
Thief in the Night - Chasing Utopia
Pure talent, no tricks. That is my impression of the band Thief in the Night. The real deal.
I was gifted with their CD Under the Influence a few months back when I made the acquaintance of Chris Van Duyn. I had sought out this riff-riffic guitarist after scouting various talent and finding inspiration while perusing through the Reverbnation site. Resounding out of San Pedro, California with their heavy, medlodic sound clearly rooted in classic rock, Thief in the Night is Chris Van Duyn (guitar) and Johnny Rossa (vocals) - the core of this driving sound.
These guys are busy - having just recorded and released two new singles this past winter. And they are still getting favorable responses and reviews on their album Under the Influence (with the incomparable Rafael Moreira on bass and the technical powerhouse of Randy Cooke on drums-monster musicians in their own right!) along with their release The Akoustic Set. TITN has also covered and breathed new life in the Alter Bridge song In Loving Memory (with Dilana) and Led Zeppelin's Kashmir. They are currently focusing on writing new material to take into the studio and have a stellar line-up of musicians that lend themselves to their live act.
TITN is Classic Rock with the combined nuances of such bands as Soundgarden, Alter Bridge, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains, Metallica, and Creed. You cannot help but note these influences. Yet there is an unmistakable sound there that is uniquely TITN.
Rossa's vocals are clear and powerful and Van Duyn's masterful guitar work provide the perfect backdrop. It is a symbiotic relationship of singer and musician that meld into music magic.
One of my personal pet "peeves" regarding today's music is the use of so much layering and all the "bells and whistles" that are applied during the production process. I often think to myself "How do they recreate that LIVE?" I return to my original impression of "pure" in my opening sentence regarding TITN. This is not "manipulated" music in any sense...but unadulterated and unapologetic ROCK-served by Van Duyn's driving instrument; punctuated by Rossa's magnificent vocals. I dig that about them.
Van Duyn echoes this sentiment. "I've been doing this a long time and its obvious the music industry has changed--from consumers wanting full albums on LP or CD to now downloading only singles. Music like this is still doing well in Europe, the UK, Japan and other territories. We've had some success ourselves with airplay, reviews, articles, etc. outside the U.S. So one of the things that I feel strongly about is that I truly believe the world is hungry for this type of music, yet most don't even know it's out there because it's not what's made available to the masses. I've had several A&R reps I've met totally love our music, yet state clearly it will never sell because labels are dropping bands like this, but if we added dub-stop to it they could get it out there. I can't look myself in the mirror everyday if I were to do that so I turned it down. Meanwhile you see a young kid like Caleb Johnson win American Idol by performing covers of Led Zeppelin, Whitesnake, etc. Something simply doesn't add up."
Thief in the Night remains true to their vision and are keeping it REAL while chasing utopia.
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"They sound retro and modern at the same, very melodic in all parts, with of course a main focus on strong clean vocals and biting precise guitarwork of the 2 core members."..."Opener “Chasing Utopia” is one of the finest songs here, as this is a real massive sounding Melodic Heavy Rocker that combines the best of the modern American Rocksound and the Mainstream Rocksound of the early 1990s.."No one else” does have a lot of ALTER BRIDGE, SOUNDGARDEN and CREED similarities, but still an own approach to that sound, while the instrumental “Under the influence” shows the band’s love for instrumental precision."..."THIEF IN THE NIGHT has got all it takes to become better known in the Rockworld" .
'Under The Influence' is the new CD from Los Angeles melodic hard rockers THIEF IN THE NIGHT that is already getting good press and radio feedback here in the UK. In the song 'Chasing Utopia' the band have come up trumps, this song is superb and very melodic in a Van Halen 'Balance' kinda sound vibe, whilst musically modern with racing guitars and superb vocals from Johnny Rossa. Johnny has a superb voice, sometimes he comes over like a clearer Ozzy Osbourne mixed with say Jeff Scott Soto and Scott Stapp. I love the sound of this, great song, very clear with tons of high range power and energy from the whole band, huge bass sound also. What makes the band tick is that they sound fun and genuine and this record works. The band features Johnny Rossa on lead vocals, Chris Van Duyn on guitars with the priceless support on the album of Randy Cooke on drums and producer Rafael Moreira on bass.
The album's title is 'Under The Influence' for a few reasons one of which is the musical influence of several artists. 'At the time of writing three of the songs, Chris was heavily listening to Mark Tremonti's work with 'Alter Bridge'; Rafael Moreira (producer of the album) and his project 'Magnetico'. Songs like 'Chasing Utopia' and 'Broken Beyond Repair' seem to have drawn heavily from those influences and Chris was also trying alternate tunings which opened up new ideas. 'There are also musically influences that include 'Led Zeppelin,' 'Black Sabbath', 'SoundGarden', 'Rush' to name a few and one of my personal heroes, Steve Lukather,' he adds. With some making comparisons to 'Tool' and 'Alice in Chains' Chris notes that 'One of things I've received feedback on is that although musically its heavy, riff based rock and even dark sounding at times, lyrically most of the songs come from a place that is not dark nor negative which it seems like a lot of hard rock and metal music can tend to be. And that is not meant as a negative statement about any bands writing lyrics in that manner but I do feel it is one area that makes this project different from most. Its still very passionate musically and lyrically but overall most of the lyrics project more optimism if you really break down the lyrics,' he says.' Johnny picks up the pace. 'The music always grooves and breaths. It has all the heavy driven riffs; well honed melodies all set against a massive sounding rhythm section yet even when it has the occasional odd & mixed meters they are well placed and flow; nothing feels forced, a natural organic feel through out,' he says which Chris agrees with. The song 'Breaking Through' demonstrates this heavy sound with its Sabbath/SoundGarden like odd/mixed meter riff joined with the heavy vocals of lyrics that start dark but take you into the optimistic outcome of breaking out of human darkness.
The CD is an aggressive album with a lot of energy! 'The songs kick serious ass,' smiles Johnny, 'I'm very proud of it,' pipes in Chris. 'One could say its hard rock; it's metal; regardless of narrowing it to a genre, it is definitely a 100% rock album. A major intent behind it was to have a big sound yet have the performance be realistically reproducible live and that goal was achieved. I know I'm biased but I think sonically this album sounds fantastic and as good as anything out there and the feedback and reviews support that. Rafa (producer) and I agreed at the get go to not have it be over produced in terms of layers and layers of instrumentation and vocals that would never be realistic to reproduce live. To "keep it real." The excellence of the musicianship as well is significant. Johnny's vocals are strong, powerful and soulful. In one word they are: amazing! Randy Cooke's drum work is so solid with such incredibly sophisticated, technical playing balanced with in the pocket solid groove.'
The CD was primarily recorded at producer Rafael Moreira's studio, Music Magnet in Los Angeles and the drums were tracked at Randy's studio. In total it took just over one year to complete which also included a lot of the writing process besides recording, mixing and mastering. 'The process could have been faster but due to various schedule conflicts that would occur it took time. Those conflicts included our producers schedule, but when you're working with someone at Rafa's level who as a monster guitarist is in demand touring and recording with top name, world known artists, we had to sometimes work when schedules lined up. Johnny was also touring at the time in the band 'Puddle of Mudd' playing keys, harmonica and backing vocals which also caused some scheduling conflicts. But it was well worth it. When we were working, Rafa was very focused and worked everyone hard and it shows. We also took our time with the mixing and mastering process. Urban Olsson mixed and mastered the five primary songs and we took our time with that process. Urban did a fantastic job. Rafa would work with him and then send us mixes; we'd live with them for while; give back notes; tweak here and there; repeat the process until everyone was happy. The end result of all that hard work from everyone shows in the pay off.'
Finish Strong Music ( Release Date – Out now)
Thief In The Night is made up of Johnny Rossa on vocals and Chris Van Duyn. The two guys have been writing and performing together for a couple of years in their LA base. For the recording they have also drafted in Randy Cooke on drums and Rafael Moreira on bass, Rafael also looked after the production duties, a handy man to have around.
This release is a 6 track mini album (when does an EP become a mini album ??) and contains some quality tracks. I’m guessing that the guys have the back catalogues of both Alterbridge and Creed in their collections as they plough a very similar furrow. Opener ‘Chasing Utopia’ is a good example of this with a bass heavy sound, a strong vocal delivery and first rate guitar work provided by Chris.
The guitar playing is the main feature of the album and it becomes a bit of a Van Duyn showcase at times, especially on the two instrumental tracks. His playing though is rather tasty and well worth highlighting, two instrumental tracks out of six may be over egging the pudding a bit.
Overall then, this is a strong release which is worth a listen, especially if you are a guitar aficionado.
This review can be found at: http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/2013/01/thief-in-the-night-under-the-influence/
Chris Van Duyn & Johnny Rossa give "...strong vocal delivery and first rate guitar work..."
A refreshing throw back to classic rock n’ roll, citing influence from such legends as Sound Garden, Metallica, and Black Sabbath, THIEF IN THE NIGHT combines that good old fashioned idea for great music: solid vocals and slamming guitar riffs honed so expertly that what you hear on an epic album such as this is no doubt the beginning of something very special. And we’re here, on the ground floor, witnessing it all unfold… and it just don’t get better than that.
Johnny Rossa puts his pipes to the test a’la Chris Cornell with such passionate singing while Chris Van Duyn carries each track almost effortlessly with his flowing, dynamic guitar riffs and melodies. Randy Cooke keeps things on point with stunning and precise drumming, while producer and bassist Rafael Moreira ties it all together in a neat radio friendly, yet still raw and original, package. All assembled, Thief in the Night’s first album, Under the Influence, is a stunning 5 song EP of great hard rock music.
Before we even realized that the band had produced a cover version of Kashmir by Led Zeppelin, THIEF IN THE NIGHT was already painting pictures of Led Zeppelin in our minds. As we got to know the album better, it also started to conjure up memories of Tool and Sound Garden, in the way a band’s vocals and guitar can combine together like a duet rather than simply taking turns in the spotlight.
The only really disappointing thing about Under the Influence is that it’s only five tracks long; but we’re not too worried that they’re going to disappear any time soon. Music like this should be heard and recognized as worthy of telling your friends about. With all the technological influence in the current popular music scene, it’s nice to stumble across a band that’s still rocking out old school. Four guys and four instruments – simply treating a recording session as just a little more practice for a live show.
Now strange as it may seem, even though Johnny Rossa has one of the best singing voices we’ve heard from a new band in a long time, the title track of the album is an instrumental and a fantastic one. From the first note, you’re transported to a realm of imagination and you only need close your eyes to see an epic story unfold in front of you… so reminiscent of early experiences with such epic bands as Led Zeppelin, Tool, Sound Garden and even producing flashbacks to Pink Floyd’s Shine on you Crazy Diamond.
We’re aware that we’re gushing on this band slightly, but it is genuinely exciting to find a band that is in it to make great music and not just the next top selling single. We at TMB do believe that there is more amazing music being created now than ever before as a result of the Internet, but it’s hidden under even more mediocre and shockingly bad music than ever before. This is really why ‘undiscovered bands’ exists; we sift through the bad to find the gems so you don’t have to.
So please do yourselves a favor and check out THIEF IN THE NIGHT on Bandcamp, and then like them on Facebook. If you agree with our thoughts, then give them a few dollars by buying a copy of Under the Influence… then tell your friends to do the same.
From the TMB ‘Undiscovered Bands’ Series:
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Thief in the night are a hard rock band from Los Angeles. When I say “band” that’s a fairly loose term as there are only actually two members – Johnny Rossa on vocals and Chris Van Duyn on guitar, with the other two musicians appearing to be drafted in on more of a session basis.
“Under the influence” is an odd release – with just six songs and clocking in at 28 minutes it’s too short to be a full-blown album, but is a bit long to be an EP. If I had to pick one I’d say it’s an EP – six songs simply isn’t enough to deserve the title of “album”.
It’s an interesting album – on the one hand you have some great heavy guitar riffs, and a metal vocal style, but on the other, the songs are fairly slow paced and isnt as heavy as it could have been. They cite bands including Black Sabbath, Creed, Soundgarden, Metallica and Alter Bridge as influences, and at times the Black Sabbath influences are clear.
Brief comments on a few tracks: The album opens with “Chasing Utopia”. It’s got some good heavy guitar work, and the vocals are certainly reminiscent of Soundgarden, so it’s a track that gets the EP off to a great start.
The title track, “Under the influence” is an instrumental with some really nice guitar work – it’s one of the better instrumental’s I’ve heard on an album recently and is a really strong track.
The closing track on the album , “Etude for Chelsea” is a short acoustic instrumental piece. It’s a lovely piece of music and a nice end to the EP.
A nice touch is the packaging. It’s a fold-out card sleeve with the lyrics and other text, while the CD itself is printed to look like an old vinyl record and looks great.
This is a good solid release. Hopefully Thief in the night will follow this with a full-length album, and based on the quality of this release I’ve certainly got high expectations for their future releases.
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There really is nothing quite like a band comparing themselves to Creed or Alter Bridge to put me off before I even hear a single highly polished riff, tightly thumping bass drum, or ear splitting, eagle height soaring shrill.
To be honest though, I needn't have panicked because Thief in the Night, a band with only two members but who also feature named 'extra musicians', have knocked out a pretty listenable slab of modern (traditional) heavy rock for their debut album, 'Under the Influence'.
In fact it's not until the lyrical cheddar of third track 'Broken Beyond Repair' (living in a cess pool, of lies, now I’m listening to, your alibis) that I first felt that inevitable and uncontrollable tic that hits me when exposed to this brand of modern (traditional) heavy rock music. The song recovers from its slightly cringe inducing opening lines though, and sits alongside its predecessors as a finely produced and perfectly executed cut and thrust of chunky yet fluid riffs and energetic percussion.
Clocking in at a mere six tracks, the album is not the lengthiest of workouts, and the instrumental title track provides a strange centre piece for the record as a whole, the much more subtle, yet still heavy melody on No One Else shows a slightly different side to the outfit as they change steadily up through the songs gears. Closing out with the another instrumental, this time a rather plaintive, acoustic and wispish song entitled 'Etude for Chelsea'
The greatest compliment I can pay is that at no time did this record irritate me in anyway close to the way Alter Bridge et al manage to.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TBFM internet radios Independence Thursday evening show is a bit of a pot luck affair, Mucka & Scarlett play 2 hours of unsigned / independent artists most of which have never received air play before. Last week’s was a bit different because Mucka & Scarlett didn’t get a chance to listen to any of the CD’s prior to going on air. Amongst the collection of “interesting” tracks played one band stood out from the crowd, Thief In The Night. The listeners to the show (me being amongst them) were treated to a track that was head and shoulders (in my opinion) to anything else played during the show. A few messages later and TBFM not only had the debut album but also their “Akoustic Set” EP which turned out to be another gem.
Under the Influence’s opening track “Chasing Utopia” is probably the heaviest of the album with Johnny Rossa sounding more Layne Stanley (Alice in Chains) than Ozzy or Myles Kennedy and Chris Van Duyn’s guitar pounding out distorted riff after distorted riff. The rhythm section of Randy Cooke on drums and Rafael Moreira on bass whilst both appearing on the album as guest/session musicians keep the whole thing tight and beat perfect.
“Breaking through (Out of the darkness)” is another heavy driving track with some well defined changes in tempo midway through, another quality track with a darker edge to it both musically and lyrically.
“Broken beyond repair”, the 3rd track, opens much the same as the previous two tracks with a heavy riff and drawn out vocals (this time moving towards the bluesy sound of Myles Kennedy and away from the dirtier grunge sound) this is a solid rock track albeit with a slow tempo but certainly none the worse for it.
“Under the Influence” the albums title track is an instrumental, basically an extended guitar solo by Chris Van Duyn but rather than serve as an example of self indulgent plank spanking this track highlights the extreme talent that Van Duyn has as a guitarist, at just over 4mins long it doesn’t drift off towards some far off musical horizon, it is purely what it intends to be, an opportunity for you to listen to some quality guitar work.
“No one else” is more laid back, it certainly shows some of the bands more rock orientated influences and there are elements of Ozzy , AlterBridge, and SoundGarden, and Rossa’s vocals take on a more plaintive tone during the verses before lifting into a more upbeat chorus.
“Etude for Chelsea” the closing track is a simple acoustic number that gently closes the album in reflective fashion, this is a haunting instrumental played on guitar only with an almost classical feel to it.
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