Indiana-based melodic hard rock outfit DownShift released their new full-length album One In The Chamber on November 17th, 2023. The quintet deliver a dynamic blend of raw and heavy instrumentation mixed with melodic and catchy vocals. It’s a blast of a first album, arena rock from a band who are just starting off, and having listened to it driving the car, it makes you want to turn up that volume and drive fast on an open road! This is music to turn to ten, again and again!
DOWNSHIFT started as a brain child between vocalist / guitarist Jordan Payne and guitarist Aaron Parrett. Over the course of a few years, they wrote and recorded the album One in the Chamber and set out to build a band around the project. A few times they nearly threw in the towel but, in the fall of 2022, they completed the perfect line-up and started the rehearsal process. Over the last year the band has grown musically, but even more so became a cohesive unit that builds on each others strengths. On August 5th of 2023 they ‘went live’ with their singles of “Lose It” with a music video and “Give It To You.” Jordan Payne filled us all in with the background to one track, “Terminal.”
“it could almost be a mission statement for the band. For one, it was the first song written for the project and for two, its meaning is kind of our driving force behind starting and continuing this project. The whole idea behind the song is that most people spend their days expecting to wake up tomorrow. And in doing so, people tend to put off doing the things they really want to do. Maybe it’s a dead end job you hate or extra weight that’s physically and mentally holding you back. Whatever it is, the song is a call to people to realize that we are only here once. Today isn’t coming back, and tomorrow isn’t promised. So this is the time to stand up and do the things you want to do, because sooner or later, we’re all terminal.”
The outfit are preparing to take their music to the stage and have started booking gigs for the remainder of the year and 2024.
Jordan Payne: Vocals / Guitar
Aaron Parrett: Guitar
Jordan McAdams: Drums / Backing Vocals
Austin Ellison: Bass
Clayton Barber: Guitar
So, with our best rock hats on, we sat down to discuss all things DownShift with vocalist Jordan Payne.
We began with noting how the album mixes a really solid heavy rock groove with a distinctive feel for melody. DownShift combine rock ‘n’ roll vibes with their own powerful sound, with the likes of “Here We Come” and the album’s title track, “One In The Chamber” bringing whiskey-soaked good times and guitar solos. It reminded us of a chat we had with Jen Razavi of the LA punk band The Bombpops, who spoke of her love of melody in songwriting and how she would be told at school how she liked melodic punk and not “pure punk” – whatever that is! Clearly, there is a love of melody here too.
Jordan: I totally agree about the importance of melody. You have in rock the radio sound, and then you have the “B” side tracks on every album, and there there are the bands who do one thing but lack commercial appeal. In school, it was always, “what do you like” and I would say this band or that one, and the reply would be “that’s basically pop!” But whatever, I guess that’s what I like! But it makes sense to have the melody in songwriting, and to have a commercial sound.
At the end of the day, if a song has no commercial appeal at all, then does any artist want to spend their time around the local pub with a tiny hard core audience. That won’t pay the bills. There are some class tracks on the album that should have huge appeal to commercial radio, “Lose It” would be one.
Jordan: As a songwriter, you want to write songs that an audience wants to listen to. It is okay to write a song that’s for you, but if that is strictly the case then why record it and release it? I like mainstream music, so if I write a melody it won’t be totally weird just for the sake of it.
One song that jumped out was the track “Bite the Barrel.” It is a song lyrically touching about biting the metaphorical bullet and finding the strength from somewhere to keep going even when everything seems against you. We felt that it connected to the strength we can find in music during the darkest of times. Music can help a lot in promoting positive mental health.
Jordan: I have had periods of downness before, and writing music has helped me get through that. You can find music in those few minutes when you play it helps take you away from negativity, it allows you to work through what you are going through. I’m no psychologist, but music is therapeutic, it helps your wounds to bleed for a few minutes while you are hearing someone else’s struggle.
Certainly music can be such a release, bashing away on the drum kit, for example, can be a great release.
Jordan: Not only is it a way to shut your mind off and not think about it, but the pain and the thoughts can come out in the songwriting and the music, so you are using your experiences in a positive way. I believe in that for sure.
DownShift are an independent band at the moment, which has its ups and downs. But we asked the question about how the band all got together, was it from college days, or a call to arms from a newspaper advert! How did it happen?
Jordan: DownShift have had an early rocky history! We started this project a few years ago, and as far as writing went, it was me and our other guitarist Aaron Parrett. We did all the writing and we had a couple of other guys, we originally recorded the album with them. However, it just wasn’t working. Bands can be very difficult, four people, different backgrounds and different visions on how they want things to go. You need everyone to artistically line up and have the same common goals. You are dealing with personalities too, everything from turning up on time to anger issues or whatever, it’s not easy. It is like any workplace. But after that, Aaron and I decided to hire some session players and go back into the studio to rerecord the drum and bass parts for the album. We did that in 2020. But then it all fell apart, no live music. So we waited. We knew we wanted to do this seriously and we knew we needed the best team around us. So we tried out other members and had a few come and go, but, then we found the perfect lineup and the pieces fell in place. We then regrouped as a band, the new guys got to know the material we had and put their creative spin into it and here we are!
We very much liked the drum sound on the album, but presumably Jordan McAdams was not the drummer on the album?
Jordan: No, he was not. That was a drummer called Kevin Kaylan, he was one of the session musicians we hired for the album. Kevin is an excellent drummer, and if we had known Jordan at the time then we definitely would have loved to have had his parts on there. He’s a similar style of drummer.
We seem to be at a crossroads in rock music at the moment where the old bands are retiring due to age and illness. It is a natural end to things. But we are concerned about the lack of new arena rock bands breaking through and also, even though people talk of the vinyl revival, the record stores tend to sell the classic older bands, they have very few of the newer acts there. Is there enough push for the new artists selling product out there.
Jordan: I have considered this a lot. Here in the US, all of the bands from the late 90s and early 2000s seem to be reforming and touring again. I have tickets to see Three Doors Down and Vertical Horizon. Those tickets are selling so fast, Limp Bizkit is touring again. All of these older bands are doing fine, but where are the new bands? Is it a nostalgic thing? I have noticed a lot of new bands sound a bit samey. I also think that the current way we consume music on Spotify or whatever, you are no longer sitting down to listen to a whole album. You find a song you like, you add it to a playlist and then you move on to the next band. Because of the huge amount of music you can consume at one time, you don’t become a huge fan of one particular band. There are many bands putting out new music, but the modern listener will grab one song now. But back in the day, the Limp Bizkit fan would be going to the store in the T-shirt, buying the CD or whatever. That fan would know all the tracks on the album, not one.
We note the lack of a CD player in modern cars is significant, because with a CD you listen to an album when driving and you listened to it through (Lorraine comment- I did listen to the DownShift album that I had on my phone while driving in the car, so you CAN listen to a whole album, but I agree this is rare for me, I tend to have mixed playlists). We have changed how we listen and this has changed the role of the album in society. Our friend who runs a vinyl record store says many younger people buy vinyl to collect, not to play vinyl music. And sometimes they buy because they want the covers to place on the wall.
Jordan: This is unfortunate. As an artist I’m torn because I do love Apple Music, I love to have any song at my hand at any time. And also Spotify has massively changed things as back in early 2000s, the holy grail for any unsigned musician was to get radio play, that is what you wanted to do. But now, that won’t help you much at all as people are not listening to the radio. So it’s cool that I can upload our music to Spotify, as now people have the same access to us as they do to Brittany Spears. But with the huge number of options it is so hard to gain attention, everyone has such a short attention span.
We think video didn’t kill the radio star, but streaming music probably has. To cite Gene Simmons, perhaps the music fan killed music as they have started to expect music for nothing. Where everyone expects something for free, it is hard to make a living. Our magazine is free for you, but, for example, we love it when people donate and buy us a coffee (link below) but it is there for free and people jump in the free service for so much and expect that.
Jordan: Yes, it is a complex area. Look at Garth Brooks, enormous in the states. I don’t think he is on the streaming services and I’m not sure how you consume his music! And that’s okay for Garth Brooks as he has decades as a superstar, then he goes out and he tours and there are 50,000 a night to see him. But as a new band trying to get attention you have got to give people an easy way to consume your material, otherwise you won’t be able to do anything.
That lift up and break is very hard for new acts. We have said this many times in the magazine. If you read Benny’s last editorial he is saying to readers, go and check out Doctor Lincoln, Nushka, Olivia Lynn, Black Roze and so on. New artists need support or we will be left with legacy artists only being able to make a living.
Jordan: You may know Chris Stapleton he is an enormous country artist, and that genre is doing so well at the moment. Now he has been a professional songwriter, his songs charted twenty years ago, and he was a successful songwriter long before he had fame as himself. But within the last few years he has become huge. There are so many little tricks to get that exposure. We have been reaching out to promote the album and we are familiar with the social media side, there is definitely a certain formula for that algorithm success, you need to be an expert in social media really.
And a couple of fun questions to finish on, what was the last album Jordan listened to from beginning to end, and did he enjoy it?
Jordan: The last album I listened to from beginning to end was “One in the Chamber” by DownShift, and I did enjoy it for sure! And this is a hard question, I must be part of the problem because I tend to listen to singles now. I do like listening to albums, I have listened to a Creed album, “Weathered” recently, but lacked time to finish it. And I absolutely enjoyed it, I have heard it many times over the years.
And which artist would you have most liked to see live, but never did?
Jordan: Michael Jackson, around the time of “Dangerous.” I don’t listen to him much now, but I loved his music when I was younger, and as a performer there was no-one better.
And last of all, any news from the band extra to the album they can share with us?
Jordan: We have pretty much just finished shooting a music video for release later this month. We release things as we complete too at the moment. Also, the album has been finished for a while and we have quite a bit of unreleased material that we will work on soon. I’m not sure we want to do a new album just yet, probably some single releases on the way. We are actively booking some shows in 2024 now too, so see you all out there!
And our thanks to the band, we wish them every success and hope to be hearing more new music from them soon.
By Mark C. Chambers
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