After spending last summer touring with Daughtry and Candlebox, Cinder Road is hoping its latest album, Superhuman, can propel it to new heights on the wings of familiar guitar sounds and rock radio posturing.
It may not sound like a killer recipe, but Cinder Road singer Mike Ruocco says he's not worried.
"I feel like we're doing something a little bit different," says Ruocco, calling from his Baltimore, Md., homebase. "We're by no means reinventing the wheel, but what we are doing is trying to bring back to a degree what we like to describe as arena rock. ... We have up-tempo songs, ballads, kind of like Def Leppard but with a little bit more of a modern feel to it."
Not so long ago, comparing your band to Def Leppard was either hilariously ironic or a death sentence. Times, of course, have changed, in this world of Nickelback and Hinder proportions.
Ruocco's honesty concerning his "Love Bites" infatuation resembles that of a World War II solider who's spent 20 years hiding in the hills. In many ways, time has stood still for him.
"What happened was, when I first started listening to music at a young age, we had a record player and bunch of cassettes in the family room," he says. "I came across Def Leppard's Hysteria and fell in love with that album. Every single track on that was great. And from then on, I just remember that type of rock music really affecting me."
Don't get it twisted: Hysteria is a solid release and perhaps one of only a few from that era Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction being the other that warrants iPod play. That said, citing Def Leppard as an influence hasn't happened since, well, ever.
More so, upon pressing Ruocco, he admits the members of Cinder Road guitarists Chris Shucosky and Pat Patrick, bassist Nat Doegen and drummer Mac Calvaresi are enticed by all things '80s, including horrific compilations such as Monster Ballads that commonly prove drunk-dial 1-800 purchases late at night.
Perhaps that's why it should come as no surprise to learn Cinder Road is now touring with Tesla.
"Tesla is one of those bands from that era that actually still maintains a lot of respect," Ruocco says. "And here's the thing: Basically, a lot of people who come see us play and are older say we remind them so much of an '80s band. Now, I don't have teased-up hair, wear spandex and scream in my falsetto chick voice, but some of the cooler parts of the whole '80s scene was just good old rock 'n roll. Just a good time, drinking beer, tight pants, cowboy boots, stuff like that."
Just to clarify, what kind of spandex would Ruocco wear back in the day?
"I'd have to go with leopard print," Ruocco laughs, "because if you're going to do it, you gotta do it."
Cinder Road with Tesla
935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $35 in advance, $37 day-of-show, 16-plus; visit ticketmaster.com.