For Kane Roberts, writing and recording “The New Normal,” his first new solo album in seven years, felt like taking a step in the dark.
“It was one of those situations where I’ve been off the grid for quite a while. I hadn’t been in the public jet stream of rock and roll and recording and playing live. I played it for my friend Kip Winger, and he said, ‘I can run this by Frontiers to see if they’re interested,’ and Serafino and Mario agreed to it,” Roberts said.
“It was like walking into a completely dark room because I hadn’t been in the studio and doing this exact type of thing, writing, guitar, making a record and singing so that I had to do stuff that was up to the proper standard.”
Out today on Frontiers Music, “The New Normal” more than surpasses the heavy metal standard with a bold cinematic, atmospheric sound filled with electrifying guitar solos, majestic drum beats and mesmerizing bass lines. In a sense, it’s akin to hearing Roberts’ personal soundtrack as his life plays out before listeners’ eyes.
Roberts, an iconic heavy metal singer and guitarist who’s worked with Alice Cooper, KISS, Guns N’ Roses, Rod Stewart and a host of other renowned artists, spent three years writing and recording 10 tracks for “The New Normal” with producer Alex Track. He opted to record “The New Normal” at Track’s studio and bust out of his comfort zone after releasing “Unsung Radio” in 2012.
“I ended up recording at his place from about 9 a.m. to four or five in the morning, five nights a week. It was a matter of discovery, I wasn’t sure how it would go, I knew that I wouldn’t quit until I got it done properly,” said Roberts, who’s also famous for his ‘80s machine-gun guitar and body-builder image.
“As time went on, the writing was really good, we started recording, and it sounded all great and everything. I would reinspect a vocal, and I would go, ‘I’m singing better now, so I should do some different choices with my guitar playing,’ even though I never stopped, it started to get more focused, and we started developing the cinematic approach to this whole project.”
Roberts built his robust cinematic sound with the help of several powerhouse heavy metal artists and musicians, including Alice Cooper, Kip Winger, Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz, Paul Taylor, Ken Mary, Nita Strauss, Babymetal’s Aoyama Hidecki, Shinedown’s Brent Smith and Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale.
Whether lending a guest vocal, guitar riff, bass line, drum part or co-write, each guest collaborator brought their own magical elements to “The New Normal.” For metal fans, the album elegantly mixes ‘80s melodic influences with today’s grittier, more hardcore approach.
“It’s a matter of what standard you want to set, these are all people who are doing amazing stuff. If I surround myself with that, it’s gonna lift me up, or at the very least, make me get up on my toes and interested in some real shit,” Roberts said.
Roberts’ first single, the pulsating “Beginning of the End,” features Kane’s echoing guitars accompanied by heavy shredding with guest vocals and harmonies from Cooper and White-Gluz. The song will repeatedly play in listeners’ minds as they contemplate ending the world.
Roberts also teamed up with Cooper and White-Gluz and a 20-person crew to film a video for “Beginning of the End” in Vancouver. The video will be released soon and have a movie-like approach to mirror the song’s epic feel.
“I’ve been in editing mode since August getting a good team to give it a cinematic feel because I decided not to add any band sections to it,” Roberts said. “It’s basically this series of images that implies a narrative, and it’s more impactful in that sense. It’s more like the three people meet and destroy the world.”
Another standout album track, “Above & Beyond,” reunites Roberts with his former Cooper bandmates Winger, Taylor and Mary and opens with nervous breathing that quickly transforms into a heartfelt life-changing pledge.
“We’re really trying to make things a little bit more meaningful, and that was my intent with the record, to give people more than just what they would normally expect,” Roberts said.
While Roberts doesn’t plan to tour in support of “The New Normal,” he’s going to take a multimedia approach and release another video that will feature the woman from the album cover.
“What I would like to do is make this experience of this record ultimately by the end of the year an audio and visual experience,” he said. “I’m thinking this in more in terms of the kind of reach that I can get through different sorts of networks and portals that are on the internet, YouTube and all that stuff.”