A gnawing hunger to succeed drove the band as they pressed on. Before even attempting to gig, Surrender the Fall strove to ensure the songs, stage production, merchandise – everything – was perfect before they met their public. “We wanted everything to be professional,” Cole says, “so we took our time.” When they finally booked a show, STF hit the bricks and “promoted the hell out of it, and we got a huge turnout.”
But Surrender the Fall still hadn’t found cohesion in their sound. Cole’s writing shifted toward catchier, more focused songs that didn’t fit the band at the time. Ultimately he decided what came out organically was what he wanted to play. “The songs were 100% real, no fabrication… and we knew that people would relate to them.”
It was the creative resolve Surrender the Fall needed. “It put us in a much better headspace,” Cole says, “and our live shows got even better.” STF continued their DIY work ethic, pounding the pavement to book shows and hitting social networks to promote them. “We built a lot of momentum in the local scene,” Cole says. Soon they landed prime gigs, including coveted New Year’s Eve shows, and were offered guarantees instead of a percentage of the door.
“We always got a great response in New Orleans, especially in a metal-oriented scene,” Cole says. “We weren’t metal, but we kept getting put on those bills.” He figures Surrender the Fall’s “straightforward, dirty, intense rock ‘n’ roll wreckage” won over the notoriously fickle metalheads. “We were worried they’d throw rotten tomatoes,” Cole laughs, “but by the first or second song, everybody was into it. And afterward we’d get compliments from the fans.”
All of this led to signing with Rum Bum Records. “When we met with them, it was a family vibe from the get-go,” Cole says. Rum Bum sent the band to Sonic Ranch (Devildriver, Taking Back Sunday, ZZ Top, Madonna) in El Paso, TX to record with artist/producer Lennon Murphy (Lennon, Devil’s Gift). Over a 5-1/2 week period, Surrender the Fall tracked dozens of songs while, just miles across the border, Mexican drug cartels were executing each other. Cole says it was nerve-wracking, but that the tension – which also included a ghost in bass player Devin Hightower’s room and a bullet hole appearing overnight in one of the windows – fortified the band’s already intense sound.
They emerged with Burn in the Spotlight, 12 stinging, guitar-driven hard rock songs “about love, hate, pain and everything in between.” Raw emotion and experience propel tracks like the anthemic opener “Everything You Want Me To Be,” ethereal ballad “Undesigned” and first single “Love/Hate Masquerade.” Surrender the Fall, Cole says, “has been through the ringer, and it shows in our music.”
“It’s about being honest,” he continues. “We’re not afraid to say what everyone thinks but won’t say. When you just cut the crap, people get that. Comin’ from Memphis, we know how tough crowds can be. But now people pay attention and sing along. We’re on the radio in our hometown, and have done really well here.
And as he predicted, the songs’ lack of affectation is proving relatable; “Love/Hate Masquerade” hit radio a couple of months ago, hitting Billboard’s Top 50 Active Rock chart. Since then, the video was picked up by MusicChoice and Comcast/Xfinity OnDemand while it continues to rack up views on YouTube. Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx even posted the clip to SixxSense.com, where it received more comments than any other song. This, while Surrender the Fall tours the U.S. with Nonpoint and All That Remains, and prepares for a Fall jaunt with My Darkest Days.
Surrender the Fall couldn’t be more pleased. After adversity and struggle, they’re living the rock ‘n’ roll dream on their own terms. All that’s left to do now, Cole says, is “raise your middle fingers and crank the amps up to 11!”
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