Four years ago, former Reigndance vocalist Andre Comeau was playing in an acoustic folk band. Then, inexplicably, he felt the pings of hard rock again.
Encouraged by Thom Hazaert and David Ellefson of Megadeth, who run EMP Label Group, Comeau released the EP “Wrong Within,” five songs of straightforward, Southern-tinged hard rock, in mid-June.
“I met Thom many years back when he was still living in LA,” says Comeau, known as the “rocker guy” on the first season of MTV’s “The Real World.”
“We talked a bit, and when I had the new album finished, a friend of mine reconnected us—Thom and I—and one thing led to another. I met up with David Ellefson and Thom when they were here in LA. We met at the Rainbow and had a lot of fun hanging out with those guys. I’m super excited to put this EP out on the label.”
Comeau says the break from rock music and its inevitable return were conscious changes.
“It was really a natural progression,” Comeau says. “I write all my songs on acoustic guitar. I wasn’t terribly thrilled with the direction of rock at that time. I felt a real connection to some of the acoustic music I was listening to.
“I continued along the folk path for many years. It wasn’t until maybe 2015 when I quite unexpectedly started writing rock songs again. There was no point in trying to bend those to fit my then-current folk leanings. I put a rock band together to record them and flush them out.”
The move made Comeau realize how much he missed rock music. He’s so inspired that he already has 20 songs written for the next album and five of them are recorded.
The delivery of his new songs is quite different from the Dylanesque approach of his folk tunes. He sings in a much higher register and, in some cases, “scream my head off.”
“I missed it,” Comeau says with a laugh. “I certainly missed performing in that high-energy way and playing loud instruments. Playing in this rock genre allows me to open up my voice, just really open it up and let it fly. I would liken it to taking a fast car out on the freeway and seeing what it can do. That’s how I feel about playing rock. That’s where I shine.”
When Comeau was on “The Real World” and playing with Reigndance with Dean Fertita (who’s now in Queens of the Stone Age and the Dead Weather), fans and critics didn’t give their music much of a chance. Comeau is hoping with “The Real World” eons behind him that will change.
“Other than being a musician, which I will always be—hopefully, anyway—I can’t see that anything from then is all that relevant,” he says.
Born in ’70s-era Detroit to a family of touring musicians, Comeau grew up steeped in all genres of music. Possessed with an instinctual sense of melody and dynamics, he has music in his blood.
Reigndance ignited but quickly outgrew the burgeoning Detroit music scene of the early ’90s. Shortly after relocating to New York, Comeau was chosen to be a cast member “The Real World.” After three records and extensive touring, Reigndance disbanded in 1997.
“Reigndance was really a great band, and we took it up the mountain,” he says. “And I’m extremely proud of everything we did. And we’ve all continued to be successful in our individual pursuits after. ‘The Real World’ thing, for a long time, was something I disconnected with, and at the time, it was really its own thing. For a long time, I didn’t even talk about it.
Comeau relocated to Los Angeles and took up folk music via River Rouge in the 2000s. They released a handful of well-received albums and became a highlight of the Los Angeles club scene but disbanded in 2016.
“I have always been a fan of Andre’s music, which, of course, I discovered through ‘The Real World,’” Hazaert says.
“Reigndance was a great rock band, and, from a distance, I have perpetually kept up with his musical endeavors over the years. While we had discussed briefly working together during the early 2000s, which ultimately never came to fruition as he transitioned away from rock for a season. I’m extremely excited that it has come together now the way it has. Andre has always been an extremely gifted songwriter and a true entertainer.”