Official Biography from the Second Skin Release
The long-awaited disc is the follow-up to 1998's critically-acclaimed Fallout, a debut which Seattle paper The Rocket called "a modern rock album done with intelligence and grace." Launch praised it as a "monolithic album of dynamic blues-rock," and the San Francisco Examiner wrote, "The (Mayfield) Four could fill the gap left by now-defunct spiritual brothers Soundgarden."
The band (vocalist/guitarist Myles Kennedy, drummer Zia Uddin and bassist Marty Meisner) turns the juice up a notch with Second Skin, an unrestrained outpouring of iron-fisted backbeats, gorgeous melodies, and thrilling Led Zep-like bombast. "Fallout had more of an intimate feel to it, where this one is just a big guitar record with a lot more layers," says Kennedy, MF4's primary songwriter.
The album was written following the band's fifteen-month Fallout tour, a road jaunt that saw them sharing stages with bands like Creed, Everclear and Fuel. Says Kennedy, "While the playing of the tour was great, we went through a lot of behind-the-scenes changes both personally and professionally. Relationships ended-including a parting of ways with (former guitarist) Craig Johnson-and business partnerships changed. It got pretty frustrating at times. When we came off the road, I put a studio in my basement and Zia and Marty moved in. We locked ourselves away and spent months doing nothing but writing and playing and it was great-three pissed-off guys venting through music."
"It reminded me of when we were kids growing up together in Spokane, Washington. When we were sixteen, we had a band that gigged around town. We'd go to school all day, then play the bars-even though we were under-age-six nights a week, doing four one-hour sets each night. We've gone through a serious transformation on a lot of different levels since then. As a title, Second Skin seemed to reflect that perfectly."
Produced by Peter Collins (Brian Setzer, Rush, Ultraspank) and mixed by Tom Lord-Alge (Rolling Stones, U2, Hole) Second Skin reveals a band with a broadened range, a deepened perspective and a freedom from current trends. Sonically, the album combines the feral ("Sick and Wrong," "Loose Cannon") with the grandiose ("Summer Girl," "Believe") while exploring themes of lost love ("Eden") and liberation ("Lyla") and the emotional carnage in-between. "I try to use the songs as a form of catharsis without coming across like a whiner," laughs Kennedy. "That's the great thing about music-it helps you to hash through some issues."
The performances on the disc are absolutely electrifying: Anchored by the cataclysmic rhythms of Uddin and Meisner, the band blends blast-furnace guitars with a stream of ambient textures and rich lyrical images. Says Kennedy, "Marty and Zia did an amazing job on this album. Everyone involved was really in awe of Zia. Almost every drum part on the record is from his first or second take. He's become one of the best rock drummers I've ever heard. I feel really fortunate to be in a band with both of those guys."
At the heart of Mayfield Four's volcanic sound is Kennedy-an extraordinarily expressive vocalist who taught himself to sing by listening to Stevie Wonder records as a kid. He possesses an intense range that encompasses both a resonant bottom and a stratosphere-clearing top. On rhapsodically beautiful songs like "Summer Girl" and "Believe," his upper register glides with ethereal ease, lending sweet, soulful purity to melodies that are both tender and compelling. At a time when rock's frontmen rap more than they roll, Kennedy restores a much-missed emotional depth.
When word of his talents reached Hollywood, the producers of the upcoming Warner Bros. film Rock Star starring Mark Wahlberg came calling. The movie-which is loosely based on the rags-to-riches tale of Judas Priest vocalist Ripper Owens- is about a fan who is plucked from obscurity to become the lead singer of his favorite metal band.
Says Kennedy, "The producers had been looking for someone who could hit all the high notes, so they called and asked me to try out. I had never acted before and was a bit terrified. I read for the part, then had to go to a studio where the film's music was being recorded. Zakk Wylde, Jason Bonham and Jeff Pilson-who play the band in the movie-laid down the tracks and I sang over it. A few days later, I got a call saying the part was mine."