ROCK CITY MACHINE COMPANY – Rock City Machine Co. (2023)
With KISS’ ongoing farewell tour gaining as much momentum as its travel itinerary continues to gain more and more dates to play, a new aspiring band are poised to take their place. More specifically, the members of both Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley’s own respected touring bands are vying for their own moment in the limelight as ROCK CITY MACHINE COMPANY.
The name’s a bit of a mouthful and could be seen as a bit of overcompensation for some at first glance – a far cry from their progenitors/current employers’ mantra of “keep it simple, stupid” as far as band monikers go – but the carefree raw melodic tones on their debut album ”Rock City Machine Co.” produced by talented Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe) is worth it.
Formed by guitarists Ryan Spencer Cook and Jeremy Asbrock, along with bassist Philip Shouse, the aspiring trio first gigged frequently as part of Gene Simmons’ touring band before Cook and Asbrock started touring as members of Ace Frehley’s own outfit.
Actually, ROCK CITY MACHINE COMPANY was named after a water purification business in Nashville whose building Ryan used to pass by frequently on his way to work as recording studio manager.
By the power and grace of Zoom throughout the better part of the past year in which Marti Frederiksen saw his post-pandemic work schedule suddenly filling up rather quickly, RCMC were able to produce a bulk of original material under his guidance, including the catchy and literal driving number “Can’t Stop The Train” which recently caught the attention of NASCAR during a racing event and saw RCMC pair up with the franchise.
But, is there more to this debut album by this MACHINE for a first-time listener to choo-choo-choose from, you ask?
Plenty, as it turns out from their self-titled 8-song offering. Their aforementioned NASCAR anthem opens the album nicely, and like many a debut album which features a temptuous radio-friendly number as its opener, it dangles a lot of fine fresh fruit in front of the more adventurous listener. And despite their honorable proclamations that “you’re gonna hear DEF LEPPARD, AEROSMITH, AC/DC” throughout their debut album, RCMC also frequently stray into a lane normally reserved for the likes of their more rootsier-sounding contemporaries.
“Soul For The Gold” and “High Road” showcase a modern sound production in between the upbeat Y&T-meets VAN HAGAR-esque number “Summer Song” and the driving sleazy-sounding track “When Trouble Finds You”.
And a catchy yet neat cover of the BOB SEGER SYSTEM’s 1968 hit “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” is so well-pronounced that it could’ve been RCMC’s life code. It definitely suited what Ryan had called “something within my vocal wheelhouse” and what Jeremy further alluded to as a song “that hasn’t been covered to death” as a new fanbase – perhaps amongst them Bob Seger’s kids and grandkids – praises the band for steering clear of attempting either “Old Time Rock ‘N Roll” or “Turn The Page” for the millionth time.
While their own current touring plans basically hinge upon overall ambiguity – or however long KISS’ farewell tour is supposed to last throughout the rest of the year to be honest – RCMC have budgeted their own free time wisely with establishing both their own destiny and their own brand with the final result being a primordial-sounding debut album firmly steeped in the rambunctious and carefree hard rock 70’s/80’s vibe.
If KISS ever did need reminding throughout their final global jaunt as to where their roots were first planted, they need only to look at and listen to RCMC’s debut album as a mirroring source for their own inspiration just as RCMC had done years earlier when they’d first heard Dressed To Kill or Love Gun for the first time as their hungry arms are poised to receive the torch being passed over to them.
01. Can’t Stop the Train
02. Soul for the Gold
03. Rambin’ Gamblin’ Man
04. Summer Song
05. When Trouble Finds You
06. The Last Time
07. High Road
08. Fallin’ in Love
Ryan Spencer Cook – Vocals, Guitars
Jeremy Asbrock – Guitars
Philip Shouse – Bass
Rick Ficarelli – Drums