The second installment of the three-part Mat-Su Rock Fest hits the stage at the Menard Center in Wasilla on Saturday with veteran alt-metal band 10 Years as headliners.
10 Years was started by high school friends more than 20 years ago in Tennessee. Before long, 10 Years was climbing in notoriety and soon on the charts with their Gold Album ‘The Autumn Yield’, which featured the hit ‘Wasteland’ that went all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative chart in 2005.
Fifteen years later, the band put out its eighth album Violent Allies, which proved difficult to promote due to the pandemic.
“That was strange for us,” said founding member and guitarist Brian Vodinh. “It was the first time we weren’t really able to tour on an album, but it allowed us to grow more on the virtual side of things and saw the benefits of that platform.”
“All kinds of things felt strange,” said lead singer Jesse Hasek. “First of all, we’re a band that relies on the energy of the crowd and trying to rock out in an empty club with a lot of lights going felt strange.”
Things officially get back to normal for the band as they play their first live show promoting their new album that’s been out since September this weekend. Hasek concedes that even though things may seem the same, it’s still going to be a bit of a process for him to return to his fully interactive stage persona.
“We’re definitely a high-energy band, but our first show back from the pandemic, so my original stage antics are probably not as appropriate — climbing over people in the crowd — I might be a little more reserved,” Hasek said. “But high-energy is what we go for and we try to bring the crowd into the experience.”
Vodinh is eager to see whether Hasek can hold to that reserve as the band plays its first Alaska show since 2015.
“The fun part for me is watching Jesse at bigger shows or festivals. He’s been known to crowdsurf all the way past the soundboard,” Vodinh said. “When it happens, it’s fun for me, too. He’s unpredictable so it will be fun to see how it goes.”
10 Years’ sound brings the big, bridging guitar sounds of the early Aughties with more of a salute to grunge than many of their contemporaries like My Chemical Romance or A System of a Down.
“I think, honestly, our sound is a little left of center; we don’t get too heavy or too light,” Vodinh said. “We have varying influences that we’ve maintained from the very beginning of the band. Influences like Tool and Deftones and Radiohead… We are hard rock and there’s a powerful sense of vulnerability to us.”
10 Years songs tend to go at the core of young angst, but with enough subtlety and complexity to allow their fans to maintain their relationships to those songs, even as they outgrow some of that frustration and anxiety.
“The age range of our fan base is amazing. We have people who have grandkids in shows. We’re the only modern rock band where you can have a family outing because young kids like it and we have older folks in their 60s and 70s,” Vodinh said. “The funny thing I’ve noticed is I can go out and chat with them after a show and the ones who’ve been roughly the same age have grown up and gone through the same issues. Jesse’s lyrics have somewhat mirrored the changes in their lives. Lyrically, after Jesse had his first child, there was an obvious lyrical threat involved. It started out artsy and ambiguous and then life happened and that started influencing him. We’ve found that some fans, as we’ve evolved, they’ve evolved. There was a weird mirroring thing, growing together.”
Hasek said that’s something that starts by writing songs with empathy and sincerity.
“The other thing that comes from caring about what you create and that has such a heart and passion to it, is that it comes across in loyalty we’ve gotten from the fan base,” he said. “You’d feel bad if you get caught up in a trend or a moment of time that’s only popular for that moment and luckily we didn’t get trapped in that. It’s really about being honest with ourselves and telling the experience or process of life that has happened to us.”
Because of that, the band’s eighth album is not so significantly different from their first.
“I feel like the most recent album has a lot of classic 10 Years thread,” Vodinh said. “It includes a lot of musical interludes and musical pieces to link between songs, a minute or two long apiece… It was interesting to hear from fans how important those interludes were to them.”
As for the story behind the band’s non-descript name, Hasek said it was something that sort of stuck precisely because of its own mystery.
“The funny part was when we first got signed we would tell anyone who asked, ‘we can’t talk about it’ and it just became huge,” Hasek said. “Everybody had their own interpretation and at some point we had to let the cat out of the bag, that is was just a song title the band had written. When we were writing songs in the infancy of our band we’d have a show but we didn’t have a band name. It was almost like a working title.”
Local bands opening for 10 Years Saturday are Aughties rock cover band Millennial Falcon and hard metal band Antigen.
The Mat-Su Rock Fest concludes on June 19 with Badflower headlining the stage at the Menard Center.