Tilt to spill over into party mode near you 

click to enlarge Photos from Tilts arranging and tracking their new album. - BRYAN J. SUTTER
  • Bryan J. Sutter
  • Photos from Tilts arranging and tracking their new album.

Politics isn’t of the highest concern for Tilts. The St. Louis-bred rock-in-all-caps band is mindful of those things offstage and passionate about them off-record, sure, but on the stage and on the record, it’s pure party ragers out of Van Halen’s book of dedicated, devious debauchery.

But like so many before them, Tilts became embroiled in a political tussle all the same.

Greg Gutfeld — political satirist and host of Fox News program Red Eye — is one of Tilts’ biggest fans. He’s also the most famous one.

A longtime devotee of Torche, the critically-lauded stoner metalheads that Tilts frontman Andrew Elstner also has slung an ax for since 2011, Gutfeld caught Tilts fever. He calls its self-titled debut “one of the greatest debut discs ever,” championing the four-piece to anyone who will listen.

So this last summer, as Tilts geared up to promote the band’s sophomore effort, Cuatro Hombres, Gutfeld penned a glowing and decidedly un-PC review of the record for conservative news site Breitbart and subsequently invited the act onto his show for an interview — a coup for the upstart, mostly independent rockers whose members make their living at day jobs or by moonlighting in other projects.

But coming from a left-leaning scene of DIY rockers and fans that feel much the same, some misinterpreted the publicity as inflammatory.

“It was a fucking firestorm for a week,” Elstner said. “People were trying to sabotage shows, saying we were this horrible, sexist band. It was the most bizarre thing.”

It all flamed out soon enough. The national exposure caused a bump in album sales, and Tilts’ fundamental belief in good times for all reaffirmed how silly the controversy truly was.

“We’re a party rock band called Tilts with a song called ‘Hot For Pizza,’” Elstner said. “You can’t take it that seriously.”

The group has found that there is a certain degree of seriousness it needs to have, though. There’s a reason classic vibes turned cartoonishly over-the-top in the ’80s and nearly killed rock ’n’ roll in the process.

Tilts — like Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys before them — found a way to pick up where Led Zeppelin and AC/DC left off, maintaining its artistic integrity without putting itself on a pedestal or, conversely, making the band a parody of itself.

“There are riffs we wrote cracking up playing them, but it’s not that we are making fun of anyone,” Elstner explained of the band’s approach. “Bands that tried to do that fall into Guitar Center kind of territory: A lot of corny, tired rock clichés. The way we want to do it is very much obvious who we are ripping off, but we are trying to have a good time with it.”

That was never more true for Tilts than it was putting together Cuatro Hombres, blatantly — cough — borrowing its title from ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres. It’s a passion project more than anything, a chance for four dudes to pay tribute to the heroes that adorned the posters tacked on their boyhood bedrooms and try and add something — however small — to that legacy.

Armed to the teeth with searing, old-school riffage and dripping with ballsy bravado, songs like “Titanium Falcon,” “Kobra Kommander” and “Skeletears” bottle all that made their self-titled debut so good and strain it into something even better, louder and faster.

Print headline: Full Tilts, Despite controversy from left- and right-leaning music fans, Tilts doesn’t care about political correctness.

 

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