[EDITOR'S NOTE — Difference Makers articles share stories of the local heroes making a difference during the extraordinary times of the COVID-19 pandemic. This section is made possible by Eastwood Mall and named in honor of Mark Eckert, who made a difference in the Mahoning Valley.]
YOUNGSTOWN — Apocalyptic Lovers, a hard rock band based in Youngstown, recently debuted a music video for its original song “Better Days” to raise awareness and funds for the entertainment industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic through MusiCares.
MusiCares was organized by the Grammys to provide a financial safety net and resources for folks in the music industry during times of need.
David Hope, manager and drummer of Apocalyptic Lovers, said he and his peers in the industry have recently witnessed a lot of “behind the scenes” employees of the music industry — lighting designers, audio designers, stage technicians — facing financial burdens because of pandemic-related job losses in the industry.
“People don't think about these [workers],” Hope said. “Everybody goes to a concert. They get their $150 ticket, they get their $15 beer, they get their $20 nachos, they get drunk, and they go home and have a good time, right? Nobody thinks about any of those people that are doing lights and sound, and setting up the gear and taking [it] down. Those are hard jobs.”
All streaming royalties from the "Better Days" video will go to MusiCares through Dec. 31, 2021.
Hope said Apocalyptic Lovers’ goal is to raise awareness for all organizations aiding musicians right now, including the #SaveOurStages campaign, which is also mentioned in the “Better Days” video. After research and talking to people who have been impacted first-hand, the band decided that MusiCares would be the beneficiary of its cause.
Apocalyptic Lovers, formerly known as Love And War, first released “Better Days” in 1991, but the band recently remastered the track with noted music producer Michael Wagener, who has worked with musicians such as Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica and Skid Row. The song also benefited from input from Alan Niven, a talent manager known for his tenure with Guns N' Roses and Great White.
“It’s really kind of crazy after all these years how relevant the lyrics are that [Apocalyptic Lovers lead guitarist] Sean [MaGee] wrote for that song,” Hope said.
Although each Apocalyptic Lovers member is located in a different part of the United States, like Hope — who is currently in the process of moving back to the Youngstown area from Phoenix — three of the four members are originally from the Mahoning Valley.
The band graduated from a small-town grunge group to a nationally represented band after securing two distribution deals in 1994 after being mentioned in an edition of Entertainment Weekly magazine.
Although Love And War (at the time) was set to tour overseas, the band dismantled in 1997, suffering from “burnout.” It was simply the wrong place, wrong time, said Hope.
But in 2015 the band reassembled under the new name Apocalyptic Lovers and released an eight-song album, “Redemption Volume I.”
In April 2019, Apocalyptic Lovers secured a gig at the famed Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood.
“You can't really find a major rock and roll or heavy metal band that did not play there. I mean, [Led] Zeppelin played there, [Jimi] Hendrix played there, The Doors played there,” Hope said. “It's just like the iconic place to play.”
Although Apocalyptic Lovers planned to release a new album this year, it was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Hope said the band is pouring its efforts into raising awareness to their industry’s plights.
“[Entertainment industry employees are] grossly overlooked, and there's a lot of them out there that are homeless and jobless, and they're losing stuff left and right,” Hope said. “If it’s so important for people to get their concerts to come back they better make sure that those people that work those shows are there when they do come back, or you're not going to have the same quality of shows.”