“We’re a heavy band…that’s what we’ve always been and in a way, that what we have to be.” proudly proclaims Simon Says guitarist Zac Diebels. He’s explaining the band’s new album Shut Your Breath and with it, a return for the group to it’s fierce and hard-charging musical roots.
The band can be best described as a cross between Limp Bizkit and Slipknot with a dash of NIN. The Sacramento band developed quite a following after several well-received (albeit hard to find) independent album releases. Long known for its intensely manic live shows and ferocious guitar chords, the group developed over several years an edgy, indie reputation. But something strange happened on the way to major label land. “We got a little too mellow.” explains Diebels. “Not mellow in a weakness sense but just a little quieter, I guess. I mean it’s hard to be angry when everything seems to be going right. But we’re back to form now.” he says with a chuckle.
The four members of Simon Says came together at the tender age of 16 and were the stereotypical high school garage band. They never expected to be on a major music label. “In the beginning we never had any rock n’ roll aspirations. We just wanted to one day be able to sell out this tiny little bar in our hometown where the Deftones and Far played at.” From garage band to a major label rock band has an impact on just about any group of musicians and Simon Says was no different.
While talented in its own right, Jump Start, the band’s first effort on its current label home of Hollywood records, was certainly a deviation from the band’s fierce past. “We didn’t take that record to the extent that we could have because we still felt that we were under the restrictions that we had while at the indie label. With the new record we understood that we could push the limits a little bit without going completely over the top.”
With Shut Your Breath, the band has indeed returned to form and delivered tracks that are loud, aggressive but also meaningful as well. Case in point is “Limousines and Penthouses”, a song that confronts the influx of boy bands and teenaged pop divas on the current music landscape. “People have complained that the topic was such an easy target for us to take on. But you know what? It’s a damn good target for us to take on!.” he says with a loud laugh. “I think those people are plastic and fucked. I don’t like seeing little thirteen-year-old girls thinking that if they’re wearing Bebe shirts, Versace jeans and rose-tinted glasses, then they’re cool. ‘Cool’ is what you think it is. Sure, we all do things to be cool, especially when we’re young but it’s a little disturbing when those bands focus on people too young to know any better.”
“A lot of kids today don’t know the difference between a musician and an entertainer.” says Diebels. “Those boy bands typically have three or four writers creating their songs for them. We want our kids to know that our stuff comes directly from us and isn’t created by some writer in the background. Our stuff is real and isn’t a manufactured product.”
With Shut Your Breath, Simon Says has returned to its past aggressive musical posturing. But it also hasn’t forgotten that it’s the meaning behind the songs and the connection with the fans that drive the music. “In the beginning we didn’t really know what melody was. But now, we understand that we can be loud and aggressive but also maintain the melody and meaning in our music too.” Looks like Simon Says is all grown up.