“This song takes a step outside of our normal catalog and tackles the topic of finding happiness after heartache,” guitarist/vocalist Chris Tapp explains. “I think it will connect with those people that have overcome trials, and those who have survived toxic relationships and finally found happiness.”
For the past ten years, The Cold Stares have toured the world relentlessly as a duo, blowing away audiences across the US and Europe with a fierce, blistering live show that belied their bare bones, guitar-and-drums setup. Now, the band is embracing a whole new kind of chemistry as they launch their next chapter, adding a third member and channeling the classic power trio sound they grew up on. “The chains were off when we made this record,” says Tapp. “Suddenly, all the parameters that had dictated what we could and couldn’t do just disappeared and we were free to create whatever sound we wanted.”
That sense of total artistic liberation lies at the heart of Voices, which pushes The Cold Stares’ signature mix of blues, southern, and hard rock to bold new heights. It would have been easy for Tapp and drummer Brian Mullins to simply crank the volume here, but instead they make the most of bassist Bryce Klueh’s arrival by getting more nuanced and adventurous in their approach, chasing a raw, unvarnished sound. Add it all up and you’ve got a gutsy, cinematic record that’s as honest as it is exhilarating, a high-octane dose of unadulterated rock and roll that tips its cap to everything from Cream to Led Zeppelin as it reckons with love and loss, sin and redemption, hope and regret.
“A lot of these tunes deal with really personal things that have been on my mind for a while,” says Tapp. “I just had to live enough life and get enough experience under my belt to know how to talk about them, to know how to feel comfortable opening up those veins and sharing whatever came out.”
Characters fueled by similarly desperate longings—for hope, for purpose, for comfort—turn up throughout the record. The haunting “The Ghost” channels the redemptive fervor of a Sunday morning tent revival, while the epic anthem “Nothing But The Blues” wrestles with hard times in a down-and-out town.
“Nothing But The Blues is kind of a continuation of the theme of our song ‘Hard Times,’” adds Tapp. “I was thinking about what it takes to play ‘authentic blues,’ which traditionally meant suffering through the horrors of the old south. In my mind, there are so many things that can definitely set you down in the blues in the current world we live in.”
Launched in 2012, The Cold Stares got their start when longtime friends Tapp and Mullins agreed to team up for a fill-in gig that caught them both by surprise. With a sound far bigger than any duo should rightfully have been able to create, the pair of Kentucky natives began turning heads almost immediately, releasing a series of acclaimed albums that landed them on the road with the likes of Larkin Poe, Rival Sons, Reignwolf, Spoon, Grand Funk Railroad, and Thievery Corp, among others. The Daily Mirror newspaper praised the group’s “Southern gothic meets fuzzed-up guitar and authentic grit,” while Uncut said “darkness pervades the Indiana-based duo’s fifth album,” with Classic Rock calling it a “gloriously heavy album that carries as much weight sonically as it does lyrically”,and tunes from their albums turned up everywhere from ESPN and TNT to the hit video game Cyberpunk 2077.
After wrapping up touring for 2021’s ‘Heavy Shoes’ (their fifth studio album and debut release for Mascot Records), Tapp and Mullins returned to their adopted hometown of Evansville, Indiana, with a decision to make. The band’s sound had been growing increasingly elaborate in the studio, but unless they wanted to start playing along to pre-recorded backing tracks onstage, they were reaching a point where they wouldn’t be able to faithfully replicate their tunes anymore as a duo.
“We’d been a two-piece for a decade, so it wasn’t something we took lightly,” says Tapp. “But we’d also known Bryce for a long time and knew he’d fit right in.”