Despite the negative connotation of the word, isolation can be a beautiful thing.
Case in point: Twelve Gauge Valentine, from little towns near Monroe in Louisiana, just a little bit south of the Arkansas border. “We don’t have any bands around here and there isn’t too much to do for fun, except play music,” explains bass player Jonathon Cooper, one of the three Jons in the band (the fourth guy also has a name that starts with “J”).
Boredom gave birth to creative fire, with the Louisiana boys’ laid-back attitude giving way itself to a full-time, full-on band with something unique to say.
“(Guitarist) Josh (White) and I have been in bands together since we were kids,” Cooper continues. “We picked up [drummer] Jonathan [Webster] along the way, and we got Jon [Green] in the band just as he was starting to get interested in being a singer.”
The guys played screamo under a different name before shifting gears into a decidedly heavy metal infused brand of hardcore. “Twelve Gauge Valentine was the most cliche hardcore name we could come up with because we weren't expecting to pursue anything,” Cooper laughs. “And then the name stuck.”
The band found their way on the buzzed-about Exclamationaire EP, hashing out and exploring what would become their musical identity as they developed into the rock n’ roll monster with a brutal underbelly they are today. “It was pretty much a collection of songs written while we were trying to figure out our sound,” Cooper says.
Salt Lake City’s Sound Vs. Silence label supported them early on. Then, after the band demoed three tracks in Nashville with producer Jeremiah Scott (Showdown, Living Sacrifice), they caught the attention of Solid State. The band teamed up with Fred Archambault (Avenged Sevenfold, Eighteen Visions) in early 2006 to craft their album.
“Shock Value,” Twelve Gauge Valentine’s Solid State debut, is chock full of delicious rock posturing, positive and uplifting messages, and heavy jams sure to please people weaned on classic styles as much as the average mosh-pit frequenting bruisers.
Imagine the Southern friend metallic hardcore of Norma Jean and the similarly erratic chaos of Every Time I Die colliding with the butt-kicking rock of AC/DC. Add to that an image that is at once lacking in pretension, self-consciousness, “darkness” or tough guy attitudes, and you get Twelve Gauge Valentine. What’s the most shocking thing about Twelve Gauge Valentine’s “Shock Value?” Perhaps that behind the furious stomping metal n’ roll, there’s a group of guys full of humor, grace and good vibes.
“You can pursue rock n’ roll without having to live the so-called rock n’ roll ‘lifestyle,’” Cooper says, with typical good-natured charm. “We want to have a good time, have a positive message, and share our music.” Kids who swear by AC/DC with equal appreciation for modern day mosh, but don’t wear makeup or jerseys? Truly shocking!