Alien Ant Farm
What if the entire human race was just some alien's grade school science project? That's the premise behind the name Alien Ant Farm.
A.A.F. formed in '96. Even though Dryden Mitchell (vocals), Terry Corso (guitar), Tye Zamora (bass) and Mike Cosgrove (drums) were in separate Riverside, CA, groups they gravitated toward each other. The other groups were jettisoned and Alien Ant Farm came into being with Corso providing the name.
They hit the SoCal club circuit and hooked up with Papa Roach, who were based in northern CA. Soon they were helping each other get out-of-town gigs. This relationship proved beneficial later on. West coast tours led to some European festival dates.
In '99, A.A.F.'s debut, the amusingly titled "Greatest Hits," was released on the independent Chick Music Records. The CD won "Best Indie Album" at the L.A. Music Awards.
A.A.F. was the first act signed to Papa Roach's New Noize label (distributed by Dreamworks). "ANThology" hit the streets in March of '01 with the guitar driven "Movies" first out of the box. But a cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" garnered the most attention.
A.A.F. joined Papa Roach for the "Raid The Nation" tour and also hit the road with Linkin' Park. But the following year in Spain A.A.F. ran into real trouble. Their tour bus crashed killing the driver and temporarily paralyzing Mitchell. He wore a brace for two months before he had surgery to fuse two vertebrae. Though he was unable to move his head from side to side and suffered burning sensations in his chest and arms he was able to record "TruANT" with the band. The album was released in '03.
More bad luck hit A.A.F. a year later. Citing irreconcilable differences, Corso left and was replaced by Joe Hill. Then, while recording "3rd Draft," the group got into a spat with their label and split. The '05 album was sold exclusively at their live shows. A.A.F. landed with Universal Music Enterprises/New Door Records and "3rd Draft" mutated into '06 release "Up In The Attic" featuring "Forgive & Forget." Once the album was in the can Zamora left to continue his education with Alex Barreto, a long time friend of Mitchell and Corso, stepping in.
1999 Greatest Hits
2006 Up In The Attic
2015 Always And Forever
A.A.F.'s indie debut "Greatest Hits" is a good start but follow-up "ANThology" is far better. The most memorable tracks, "Movies," "Courage" and "Stranded," feature churning guitars and Mitchell's emotion laden vocals. The Cosgrove/Zamora rhythm section is Rock solid. A.A.F. also incorporates Latin rhythms ("Attitude") and Reggae ("Sticks and Bones"). Their cover of "Smooth Criminal" was a huge hit.
The biggest problem with a mega-hit is having every subsequent effort compared to it. What's worse is not writing the chart-buster. That makes going back to the well all the more difficult. "TruANT" is a collection of guitar Rockers including "1,000 Days," "Drifting Apart" and "Quiet." "These Days" tries to be fierce but it's a bit plodding. OK, but not great. "Glow," an acoustic/electric romp with an airy quality is the standout track.
A.A.F. rebounds on "Up In The Attic." The set opens with the torrid "Bad Morning," followed by the accessible "Forgive & Forget." But the album doesn't really kick in until midway with three standout songs, "Around The Block," "San Sebastian" and "Lord Knows." Here, A.A.F. plies a lean, no nonsense approach to their benefit while Mitchell intones lines like "so many times I've forgot my address" (from "Around The Block").
The acoustic ballad "Supreme Lifestyle" is actually very good with impressive vocal harmonies. It's not something you'd expect from an A.A.F. type group. That song is far better than the set closing ballad "She's Only Evil." It's a great title, too bad they didn't deliver.