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Since forming in a working class suburb of Chicago in 1995, Mest have been tearing up the punk rock scene. Playing in local Chicago punk clubs, the group self-released their debut album, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ 40′z”. The band got their first real break when frontman Tony Lovato sent the band’s album to Goldfinger’s John Feldmann who helped them get signed to Maverick Records, and produced their major-label debut, “Wasting Time”, which was released in July 2000. Since then the band has released 3 more albums on Maverick — 2001’s “Destination Unknown”, 2003’s self-titled disc, and 2005’s “Photographs”– and toured the world as part of the Warped Tour.
“Mest was a band that was always known for their live show. It didn’t matter if we had 10 or 10,000 kids at the show, we always put everything we had out on stage every night,” remembers Mest singer Tony Lovato.
Tensions between the band members about the musical direction of the band, growing up, starting a family and not wanting to tour as much caused the band to break-up in 2006, and Mest announced their breakup, as well as a farewell tour entitled “So Long and Thanx for the Booze.” With the band broken up, Lovato spent the next couple of years battling the demons that had built up in his closet. Years of alcoholism and drug abuse had been quietly concealed by living on the road as a part of a traveling circus, but now Lovato was left alone with his addictions staring him in the mirror.
“When I got off the road, I was partying pretty hard and it went from recreational use to a daily thing. It got to the point where I wouldn’t leave my house for two or three days at a time, because I had such bad anxiety,” remembers Lovato. “I remember going on a binge of drugs and booze that didn’t stop for a few days. I went to take a shower and my heart just kept racing faster and faster. It was at that point that I knew if I didn’t do something to change the way I was living I would be dead. I needed to deal with a lot of the issues that I was covering up with drugs and alcohol. I needed to learn how to be a human being again and regain my life.”
After spending some time working on himself, Lovato was inspired to start writing music again. He joined up with new Guitarist Mike Longworth and new Drummer Lil Rich Gonzales. The experiences he had over the past few years had provided him for the perfect place to be creatively reborn. The end result was a series of pop-punk songs that paid tribute to Mest’s past, but pushed the band forward into a future that was wide open. Now after fine tuning the material on the road, Lovato and Mest are ready to have their fans scream the songs from the rooftops as they release their new album, “Not What You Expected.”
“As an artist you have to constantly evolve and if you don’t then you will become stagnant. It was impossible to write the same kind of record as I did in 2002, because I’m just not in the same place in my life,” said Tony. “If I were to try and write the same album, it wouldn’t be genuine and fans would be able to see right through it. This album is just the next evolution of Mest and I think it shows how we’ve progressed as musicians, and creative people.”
“Not What You Expected” is a return to the care-free days of listening to bands like Green Day, Blink-182 or Social Distortion blasting with the windows rolled down. It’s punk-rock with infectious guitar riffs and sing-along choruses that instantly transports you to another place, away from all the world’s problems. More importantly it’s a return to form for a band that has been sorely missed in music.
“When I got back out on the road playing shows, people would always come up and tell me how much of an influence Mest was on them. It is the most humbling and most flattering thing to have someone come up to you and say that you inspired them to want to go out and play music,” he said. ” Then, to have guys from bands like A Day To Remember or Escape The Fate who inspired me to start writing again tell me how I influenced them was a great feeling.”
Lovato brought the circle of inspiration back around when he asked new friend Tom Denney from a day to remember to co-write a song with him. The track is “Radio (Something To Believe)” and is an ode to all the bands that the duo grew up listening to.
“I can’t recall who was more stoked to work with whom. I would say that I was, but he would probably say he was more excited,” laughs Lovato. “It’s a really cool experience to work with someone when you have mutual respect for each other’s songwriting and records. Jeremy, from A Day To Remember, jumped in the studio to record a part for the song, which was amazing. That’s what music has always been about; supporting one other.