10 Years may be the most successful rock band to come out of Knoxville, and 10 Years bassist Lewis Cosby says the most exciting moment he's had with the band was succeeding in his hometown. Before the group was signed to Universal Records, Knoxville radio station WNFZ (94.3 the Rock) started playing the group's single "Wasteland."
"We'd worked so hard on all this stuff and we remembered playing in front of absolutely nobody and this song becoming the No. 1 most requested song on radio for two months. ... It was the most excited I have been in this band. It was the first time someone had recognized what we had done. We were absolutely giddy over that."
10 Years formed in Knoxville in 1999 with bassist Lewis Cosby, drummer Brian Vodinh, guitarists Ryan "Tater" Johnson and Matt Wantland, and vocalist Mike Underdown. Jesse Hasek replaced Underdown in 2002. While the band fought to the top in Knoxville, it was in 2005 when the group released the "The Autumn Effect" on Universal Records that 10 Years became a national concern. The song "Wasteland" topped the Billboard Modern Rock chart. And the follow-up album, 2008's "Division," peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The group's third album, "Feeding the Wolves," was released in 2010.
The band recently jumped ship from Universal and the band members created their own label, Palehorse Records, which will be distributed by Warner Bros. Records. While he acknowledges that the group couldn't have reached the fans they have without the promotional muscle of Universal, Cosby says there came a time for the group to leave.
"When you're on a major label everything is looked at as a business endeavor, not so much the music, but writing music that they think is hot right now and what's going to sell," says Cosby. "They'd say, 'We need you to write a hard rock song, then a ballad and a mid-tempo song. Go write those!' It makes you angry and spiteful of the whole thing. ... Everybody agreed that it was best if we went our separate ways. They're really focused with Justin Bieber. They're not focused on 10 Years."
The group built a studio at Vodinh's house.
"Now we're having a blast. If we're feeling creative in the middle of the night you can go do that. ... It feels like when we were 15, 16 years old. It's really been fun."
The new album, "Minus the Machine," will be released on Aug. 7.
The members produced the album by themselves and, having full-time access to a studio, were freed up to experiment and find exactly how they wanted songs to sound.
"Sometimes when you're going in with a producer you really don't get to know him until the project's almost done."
Sometimes the group would be wary of a direction the producer wanted to take the music.
"We'd say, 'This guy has a proven track record, let's just hear him out and see where this goes.' Then it's four weeks in the project and we're like, 'Dammit, man. We should've spoke up and said something!' "
This time out, the group had total control, and, so far, the response has been good. The band's first single from the disc, "Backlash," was getting added into radio playlists weeks before it's official release.
While the band members are in agreement on most things, Cosby says he's the odd-man-out on one aspect of rock success: He hates touring overseas.
"I just mope. Being on a plane for over eight hours is the worst. Then you get overseas and it's not, 'We're going on a vacation and we're going to see all these sights in Italy and Germany.' We end up in a parking lot beside a giant field somewhere that doesn't look any different than a field in my backyard!"
He says the members purposely got pass-out drunk on a flight to Japan.
"I remember I passed out and woke up and said, 'Surely, we'll be there.' But we still had seven hours to go!' You have enough time to get drunk, go to sleep, get eight hours of sleep, be hungover and still have seven hours on a plane! Then we went to South America and it's about a 12-hour flight. Then we get there and we're playing in (bad) areas and they say, 'Don't leave the hotel or you'll get raped and killed!' Yeah, THIS is a lot of fun."
Despite that, he says, everything comes together when the group hits the stage.
"I don't care how tired I am or how long we've been out or how little sleep I've gotten, once you finally get up on stage and the lights come up all that goes away. It's that moment you realize, 'Damn, I love to do this and I'm so fortunate to do this for a living!'"
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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