The SoundBard is truly honored to premiere “2020,” an exciting new track from the up-and-coming five-man Hartford, Connecticut-bred prog collective known as Mile Marker Zero. “2020” comes from their sophomore full-length concept album The Fifth Row, which is set to be self-released on March 2, 2018. Consisting of 15 tracks that deftly showcase the band’s melodic hooks and unique arrangement style, The Fifth Row was self-recorded at the band’s home studio and ultimately mastered by Andy Vandette (Rush, Devin Townsend).

Check out “2020” right here, right now (click on the lower left corner to fire it up):

Mile Marker Zero have also been generous enough to exclusively share the following comments about the song with The SoundBard:

“This track was one of the last ones recorded for The Fifth Row. Upon listening down to the album’s flow, we realized we needed a more upbeat, driving tune. The album needed one more straight-ahead ‘rock song’ to get the listener into somewhat of a happier place, before the album takes a turn towards the finale/climax. We knew before we started that we wanted it to be upbeat with plenty of hooks, and ‘the four chords of awesome,’ which are used in most modern rock songs. So we leveraged our Rush influence heavily to write a track that carried weight within the story, but also was strong enough to stand on its own as a single. One of Rush’s greatest abilities was to write progressive material that had great parts, but was still fun and accessible to the listener.

“When the pen hit the paper, we pulled other riffs/melodic content from the album to craft the main parts of “2020.” The intro guitar part is inspired by the last track on the record, “Collective,” played in a more aggressive way. The main guitar and bass riff early in the track (and interjected in the choruses) is a modified version of the bridge from the first musical track, “2001.” We thought it would be really cool to throw in elements from the beginning and end of the album as base material for the tune.

“From a tracking and parts perspective, we wanted the guitar tone to have that Alex Lifeson feel to it. This is obviously most apparent in the verse, with the clean channel and delay. The bass was tracked with a pick, to give us some more dirt and attack within the bass track, which was also heavily influenced by Geddy Lee of Rush. Though the chord structure of the song is pretty basic, we dressed up the tune with unison lines in the bass and keyboards. Vocally, we wanted to ensure that, though this song was upbeat and driving, its lyrical content was somewhat dark and intense. We loved the juxtaposition of a more straight-ahead song with an intense and dooming vocal context. This is seen as early as the opening line “God is dead,” in which our character professes that he has elevated himself to the point of supplanting religion.”

From the moment The SoundBard first heard The Fifth Row, and most especially “2020,” I knew MMZ had the goods, and I’m quite pleased to be able to share it with you all here today.

Mile Marker Zero, in full effect. Photo by Brooke Brady Photography.

So who are these guys? Glad you asked. Mile Marker Zero was formed in 2005 when brothers, vocalist Dave Alley and drummer Doug Alley, alongside childhood friend keyboardist Mark Focarile, met guitarist John Tuohy and original bassist Tim Rykoski at Western Connecticut State University. They released their debut EP, The Haunted, in 2006, and began to captivate audiences as they were seen performing alongside the likes of Porcupine Tree, Underoath, Spock’s Beard, and Devil Wears Prada.

Having created a buzz on the Northeastern prog circuit, the band returned to the studio to record their debut full-length effort in 2009, and were the first-ever unsigned artist to be featured in the popular Harmonix/MTV Games videogame series, RockBand.
MMZ continued to make several live appearances, including gigs with Periphery, Scale the Summit, Nothing More, Adrenaline Mob, Fair to Midland, and more. In 2014, the band released their most acclaimed effort to date, the electrifying Young Rust EP, which was lauded as “a must-listen for fans of commercial progressive music” (Metal Insider) and saw the band receive the award for “Best Band (Connecticut)” at the New England Music Awards.

As to the overall scope of the new album, vocalist Dave Alley observes, “The Fifth Row is a reference to the legend of ‘rice and the chessboard,’ and is frequently used by futurists as a way to show exponential growth in technology. As a society, humanity is currently in the ‘fifth row’ of the chessboard, a time which changes in technology happen so fast that they are almost impossible to accurately forecast or predict. The role of artificial intelligence and technology in our lives is a pretty hot topic right now. When we decided that we were going to do a concept album, it just seemed like the perfect topic to dive into, given how we grew up and how technology influenced our lives.”

Dave Alley – Vocals
John Tuohy – Guitar
Mark Focarile – Keyboards
Jaco Lindito – Bass

Doug Alley – Drums