Sick Drummer Magazine

Nick Lona - Reflections - Limbo - Drum Play-through
Tuesday, 01 December 2015 16:52

Drums: Tama Superstar 12" Tom, 16" Tom, 22" Kick w/ Yamaha 14" x 6.5" Steel Snare

Cymbals: 13" Meinl Extra Dry Hi Hats, 16" Sabian Aero Crash, 21" Zildjian A Sweet Ride, 18" Meinl Sand Crash, 16" Zildjian Oriental China

Hardware: DW 

Pedals: Tama Speed Cobra

Sticks: Vic Firth 3A

Recorded with and Mixed by Justin Spaulding of Octopus Studios.

Tour Dates:

Dec 02 Billings, MT @ Pub Station

Dec 03 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre

Dec 04 Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews

Dec 05 Chicago Ridge, IL @ Star Bar

Dec 07 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Ballroom

Dec 08 Corning, NY @ Gibson Fire Hall

Dec 09 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place

Dec 10 Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr Smalls

Dec 11 Clifton Park, NY @ Trickshots

Think you've had a rough go of it? Well, in the past 18 months, Reflections' vocalist Jake Wolfe has survived the kind of trauma and tragedy that often brings people to their knees. In addition to his ongoing battle with addiction, a subject he is candid about both in conversation and in his lyrics and music, Wolfe lost his roommate and close friend in a fire that destroyed his home. Rather than cower in a corner, Wolfe took life's knocks and became a better, stronger person. Reflections' music followed suit.

To say that Wolfe had a challenging year would be an insulting understatement. All of the chaos, frustration, anger, confusion, and trauma was funneled into the new album, The Color Clear, which is the follow up to 2013's Exi(s)t and was recorded at The Machine Shop with Will Putney.

"This album starts at the bottom, and gets lower and lower," Wolfe said matter-of-factly. "It is an album for people to vibe with. It will be something people connect with. It is about me trying not to end my life."

Rather than using his music to counteract or bury what he was feeling and enduring, Wolfe brought it to the surface and subsequently achieved catharsis. The listener will experience the same, as The Color Clear is not for the weak of heart or of stomach. But if you embark on this journey with Reflections, you, too, will emerge on the other side, battle scarred but having survived.

“We are taking a toned down approach, focusing more on being a band, as opposed to standing out individually," Wolfe said about the band's sonic mindset when it came time to write and record the new record. "It's more melodic, more heartfelt. We're not writing heavy songs simply to be heavy; we want people to connect with our music and we're looking past the genre categories."

Wolfe noted, "Subscribing to a genre puts you in a box, and music is based off emotion and makes you feel a certain way. Heavy music should portray anger or negative things. We are focusing on how music makes people feel, not on how many notes we can fit into this section of a song."

No one would fault Wolfe if he did, in fact, write a bunch of primal scream songs that we're heavy for the sake of, so that he could use his music to conquer his personal demons. But make no mistake. The album is not rooted in bullshit pop psychology nor is it all about happy endings and being positive.

Clearly, The Color Clear is about a feeling and not just a sound. It's imbued with Wolfe's survivor instincts, as he has been honing those since he was a teen, confessing, "My parents divorced when I was young and I was shuttled back and forth between them every week. One parent tells you one thing; the other tells you another. I grew up not knowing what it was like to have someone care. My mom moved to Texas and I moved out when I was 16. I've been trying to survive ever since."

Wolfe has battled addiction, with various amphetamines and opiates being his drugs of choice during his late teen years. At 19, he was using heroin. This was around the time Reflections formed and it got so bad at point that it caused their former guitarist to threaten to bail, since he didn't want to stand idly by and watch Wolfe destroy himself; that stance eventually helped Wolfe get off drugs. But Wolfe admits that "music has been a life saver" and that it "helped me get off the drugs." He hasn't touched a drink in a year. But music wasn't the sole eye opener. The fire obviously had a huge impact in helping him achieve some clarity and to stave off emotionally clouded eyes.

"I wish my friend didn't die, but in a way, that experience helped me realize things I had to change about myself and all the things I was taking for granted. It changed my perspective," he confessed. "I stopped drugs. I stopped drinking." Wolfe does not conceal the fact that he continued to dabble with LSD  for medicinal purposes while writing the new album and that his usage actually factored into his lyrics.

"I don't have family and our band is all really good friends, and I don't like to burden them with my problems, so the LSD helped me meditate and I saw things and heard things I needed to hear and needed to see," the singer said, hardly attempting to justify his use.

Wolfe further admitted, "I had bad anxiety and I was using LSD the right way; I did not use it to party or to have fun. I used it to help. I have no more anxiety. Not a trace. I used to rip my hair out and scratch skin off my arms. I don't do that anymore. I internalized all these things and put negative energy into the music and on paper." He is no longer actively using.

While Wolfe endured the type of personal drama that would cripple a lesser person and cause them to pack it in and quit music or trying to heal, Wolfe funneled it all into the album. But he is not looking for sympathy.

He had to lay his cards face up on the table and dive headfirst into Reflections' new album for one simple, stark, and strong reason.

It was all he had.

"It is the story of the last year," he said. "I have been with my girlfriend almost eight years now and we have had our falling outs. We have had some problems with drugs and drinking. We were homeless together the winter of 2010 in Minnesota. We would sneak into random cars to sleep. We went through a lot together. We had a falling out before the house fire in 2014. I didn't have her during that period and everything fell apart. Then the band went on tour and I had all this stuff bringing me down."

Since Wolfe was so down personally, The Color Clearis about "being at the bottom." But it's not centered on the cliché about having nowhere to go but up. "There is not a happy part or a happy ending," he said, proving the album is a lot like life. Happy endings aren't the norm; they are the exception and they are the product of Hollywood, with Wolfe saying, "It's hard to perform positive music while everything inside of me wished I wasn't alive. I realized that the best way to deal is not to counteract what you're feeling, but to write what you are feeling."

And write about it he did!

He is no longer using LSD. He and his girlfriend have reconciled, having spent their time apart growing, improving, and learning to stand, even if they wobbled at first, on their own two feet before reuniting. Reflections' lineup is as strong as its ever been. The members work as a team, as opposed to individuals, in the studio.

"The recording experience feels so good when you are waking up every day to this team of people that cares about nothing but getting your album to sound as good as it can," Wolfe stated. The Color Clear may not be a hopeful album, and Wolfe and Reflections are more than okay with that. Metal fans will likely share that sentiment, as the music is so firmly rooted in reality. Still, Wolfe is not looking for pity. In fact, he eschews it. "Everyone has things in life that happen that are not fair," he mused. "Everyone eventually feels they are at the point where nothing will change. Some things can't change. I will never have my best friend who died in the fire back. The things I lost, or the memories, those will never come back. For me, though, I let my friend live through me and be the best person that I can."

"I found that one thing that was a healthy outlet," Wolfe declared. "I was destroying myself with drugs. If not for this band, I would not be having this conversation."

With that one statement, Wolfe basically affirmed that while The Color Clear chronicles his 18-month struggle and the fact that life is indeed comprised of suffering, music can help one obtain salvation. For that reason, The Color Clear is a sonic exercise in life as Jake Wolfe knew it. It is also an album to which anyone struggling through whatever life throw at them can instantly relate.




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