Sister Hazel, the Gainesville, Florida, rock five-piece, will be releasing their new studio album, “Release,” on August 18, 2009 on Rock Ridge Music. The album, which is their seventh disc of original material, boasts twelve tracks and came together through a unique process for a studio album of original material by the band – one that worked for them in the past: each band member wrote and brought several songs into the mix and then saw the songs all the way through – from writing to recording to producing. Each member ended up with at least two of his own tunes among the disc’s twelve tracks, with Drew Copeland (guitars, vocals) and Ryan Newell (guitars) both nabbing three cuts.
“Everyone had written their songs and said, ‘These are the ones I believe in,’” says bassist Jett Beres. “Those were the songs we recorded and put on the album.” “Because of the way we completed this album,” adds lead singer Ken Block, “we were able to tap into a lot of different things sonically, vibe-wise, and thematically.” Copeland concurs: “Ken has always been our main songwriter. It was nice this go-around to take this off of his back, because all five of us have grown as writers, and we were able to really contribute on the songwriting front. It really makes a diverse record.”
The first single, “Take A Bow,” which goes for adds at radio (Triple A, Hot AC, AC formats) in July, is a track that was brought to the table by guitarist Ryan Newell. The song, which was co-written by Pat McGee (Pat McGee Band) and Michael Daly (Whiskeytown) at a songwriting retreat in 2008, was written about Newell’s divorce. “This has been a crazy year for the band,” says Newell. “We’ve gone through my divorce, Drew lost his father, Mark had a baby. You really find out who your true friends and family are when you go through life changes like that. You really find out who is special to you. We’re tighter as a band than ever before, and I think we’re not taking each other for granted.”
Beginning in late June, the band will be hosting online video chats every Friday night at www.stickam.com. The band members will rotate and will broadcast from wherever they are that day (even from venues on tour), with fans having the opportunity to ask questions in real-time. The band, who has logged over 3,500 live shows throughout the course of their career, will be touring in advance of the album this summer. Tour dates will be released soon.
As part of their tour schedule, the band will be stopping in Milwaukee for Summerfest. In addition to performing on the Summerfest stage the evening of June 28th, the band has paired up with Ford Motors, Inc., and they will be the only band at Summerfest to hang out at the Ford Drive One Tour display. Fans can visit the display at 4 p.m. on the 28th to perform with Sister Hazel in an array of skill competitions including Rock Band and interactive vehicle displays, as well as signing up for the opportunity to win exciting prizes, including a new Ford vehicle up to $30,000. On display will be the latest in Ford vehicles and technology.
Perhaps best known for their chart-topping hit, “All For You,” Sister Hazel has sold over 2 million albums and had six top 30 singles; they earned a platinum disc with 1997’s Somewhere More Familiar and a gold with 2000’s Fortress. “Not too many bands have been around for as long as we have who have come up when we started,” says drummer Mark Trojanowski. “A lot of that has to do with us having a true sense of a band, and not just one person fronting the band and everyone else treated differently. This new album demonstrates that democracy even more.”
One way Sister Hazel has continued going strong over the years is their unique relationship with their fans, the most ardent of whom are called Hazelnuts. Since 2001, the group (who co-founded the event) has hosted Rock Boat, the world’s largest floating music festival. Earlier this year, they held their 4th annual Hazelnut Hang, a 3-day weekend of music, meals and mingling. In August, Sister Hazel will again do their Operation Swan Dive benefit outside of Boston, where they’ll perform while people skydive to raise money for the band’s pediatric cancer charity Lyrics for Life. The band also is organizing, in September, the first ever Lyrics for Life Day, where they are encouraging people to create their own fundraisers for the charity.