Joey Chicago might be a nerd.
The 29-year-old bassist of metal rockers Egypt Central is spending his day off at a bowling alley in Little Rock, Arkansas, receiving a “behind-the-scenes” tour because he wants to get a basic understanding of the business.
“A friend of mine owns a bowling center and I came over to hang out with him,” Chicago says. “He was showing me the innards of the bowling alley. I like random mechanics. At one point, I worked a job where I changed reels of old movie projectors at movie houses like Brad Pitt’s character (Tyler Durden) from Fight Club.”
Egypt Central recently released a new single off their sophomore album, “White Rabbit.”
“Enemy Inside (Part 2)” is one of the gentler songs on the 12-track album, which contains several fist-pumping numbers. Though the song is hands down the lightest the four-piece group have ever officially released, it’s also the most powerful, as it serves as a desperate cry for help from drug addiction.
“Drug addiction and the power of drug addiction has affected my personal life and all of us so personally,” Chicago explains. “We knew a song like this -- regardless of success or if it makes us famous or not -- will help people to know that someone else has been there too. We’re glad to release it and show people we are capable of writing multiple styles.”
Lately, Egypt Central have shown more diversity. They’ve recorded acoustic versions of both “White Rabbit” and “Enemy Inside,” the latter of which was premiered last month on RedBullUSA.com. And according to Chicago, the group is flirting with the idea of putting together a small compilation of their singles in unplugged form.
“We love doing acoustic versions of our songs,” he says. “The likelihood of an acoustic iTunes release of the first five songs from the record is a strong possibility. That’s something we’ve been talking a lot about lately.”
“We are constantly overcoming in the course of a 10-year career.”
Formed in Memphis in 2001, Egypt Central had a very auspicious beginning. They signed with Lava Records in 2002 and began recording their self-titled debut album with producer Josh Abraham.
Although the effort was completed soon thereafter, the label experienced financial stress and dropped the group in 2005. Lava did, however, let them walk away with the album.
In that aspect, Egypt Central was lucky. Years later, the band recorded a full-length album, "The Morning Cloak," with Paul McCartney’s drummer, Abe Laboriel Jr., but due to management dealings and disagreements, it will never see the light of day.
“That got tied up,” Chicago sadly says, who refers to the project as “The Lost Album.” “There’s actually two full unreleased records that are out there in the web of the crappy side of the business.”
Egypt Central signed with their current label, indie record company Fat Lady Music, to release their self-titled debut album in 2008. It was a diamond in the rough – almost a grittier rock version of Linkin Park without the hip-hop influence -- and contained pulsating highlights “You Make Me Sick,” Taking You Down” and “Over And Under.”
The message in many of those tracks would later become a theme within the band. “Not only is it what we talk about in our music, but it’s the paradox of the life we live,” Chicago says. “We are constantly overcoming in the course of a 10-year career.”
Egypt Central's lineup has stayed relatively stable through the years. In addition to Chicago, the band includes John Falls on vocals, Jeff James on guitar and Blake Allison on drums.
They are now on the verge of entering the studio to begin pre-production on their third album. While the songwriting is still in the embryonic stage, there’s a good chance some of the tracks will be about persevering and overcoming struggles.
This afternoon, however, only one battle remains and it isn’t music related. Having finished his tour of the bowling alley, he was in search of a ball to hit the lanes.
“I need to get one with a graphic,” he says. “Or a design to scare the pins to death as the ball rolls down the lane.”
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