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Second wind 

Jacksonville rockers Cold reform and redefine themselves

click to enlarge DAVID E JACKSON
  • David E Jackson


with Volbeat, Anchored
6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
House of Blues

During their first decade together, Jacksonville rockers Cold came close to having a major commercial breakthrough with the 2003 album Year of the Spider, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard album chart and boasted the crossover hit “Stupid Girl.” But the band was never able to get the follow-up radio hits needed to establish itself as a legitimate arena headliner. Moving from Interscope Records to Geffen and then finally to Lava/Atlantic for 2005’s A Different Kind of Pain didn’t help matters, either. While the group would have welcomed major popularity, falling short of that level has its musical advantages. At least they haven’t had to conform.

“A lot of bands in our genre get stuck in a certain rut, and they have to make the same record,” Cold singer-guitarist Scooter Ward says. “Either it’s the label making them make the same record, or that’s just the way they write. I understand that. You get in the zone and that’s what you play and that’s how you write. With Cold, we were successful, but we were never über-successful where we had the record label saying, ‘You have to make the same record twice.’ That gave us a lot of freedom. And it allowed us to switch producers on each record.”

The band put its creative freedom to use on their recent release, Superfiction. In fact, Cold initially intended to release it in May 2010 on their own label, SonicStar Records, under the title Epic. A few months earlier, Ward revealed that the CD was essentially finished and the group would begin debuting songs from the album on tour that winter.

But then May came with no CD and no word about its status until Ward announced on his Facebook page last June that they were going back to work. Finally, in December, it had taken on a new name and would be released in June 2011 – later pushed to July 19 – through Eleven Seven Music.

So what happened? According to Ward, it was a case of creative freedom, combined with dollars-and-cents reality.

“The problem with me in the studio is we start the process,” Ward says, “we think it’s done, and then we get home and listen to it religiously, trying to see if we missed anything. I don’t think we’ll ever put a record out unless we’re 100 percent satisfied.”

Unfortunately, returning to the album involved more than simply going back to the studio. “We were dreaming, really,” Ward says. “We didn’t really have any money at that time.”

So Ward and his bandmates – drummer Sam McCandless, bassist Jeremy Marshall and guitarist Zach Gilbert – looked for a label.

Eleven Seven gave them the financing needed to go back in the studio with producer Kato Khandwala. Not only did they tweak their previously recorded songs, but Ward, with songwriting help from Khandwala, finished two additional tracks that became key components. “Wicked World” (which includes songwriting contributions from LeAnn Rimes collaborator Bobby Huff) is the first single, while “American Dream,” with its poppy melody and gritty guitar tones, is a highlight.

Superfiction represents a comeback after the group had crashed, burned and broken up, so Cold has a lot riding on it. “It’s actually the most important record of our career,” Ward says.

After Cold broke up in 2006, Ward founded another band, the Killer and the Star, and ironically, a decision to take that group on tour in 2008 helped pave the way for Cold to reunite. Ward needed an opening act for the Killer and the Star tour. That’s when McCandless suggested reforming Cold. Marshall signed on for the tour, as did Terry Balsamo, Cold’s guitarist from 1999 through 2004.

Eventually Balsamo had to return to the band he joined after Cold: Evanescence. Gilbert took his place and the group tried out new musical ideas during soundchecks. Now, Cold is eying a full headlining tour in the fall.

“On the headlining shows, we’re going to do the biggest set Cold has ever done,” Ward says. “I think we’re going to do like 26 songs, even do some acoustic stuff. So it should be a treat for everyone.”

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