Put It to Flame
For Stealing December, winning the 2006 Zippo Hot Tour proved one major point: Hailing from Delaware - the second-smallest state in the country - isn't necessarily a detriment in a national competition when the music clearly speaks for itself. The band emerged from the contest's Philadelphia region before defeating finalists from nine other cities across the United States to earn the right to tour with five-times platinum Geffen recording artists Papa Roach, as well as metal veterans (he'd)p.e., in front of thousands of new faces a night. While on the road for the 14-date trek, Stealing December's members - vocalist Brandon Langer, guitarist Ryan Mullen, bassist Eight Ristano and drummer Michaelangelo Ristano - quickly discovered that they fit right in playing with two bands with decidedly different musical styles than their own. "Stealing December keeps it real," Papa Roach drummer Dave Buckner said. "Real heartfelt and real loud. That's real rock." After witnessing the foursome's dynamic live performance and energetic stage show, the fans across the country who chose Stealing December as their top unsigned band based solely on a demo and a photo now had first-hand proof that they made the right decision. ---------------------------------------------------- It's hard to decipher exactly when the musical roots of Stealing December were planted. Perhaps it happened when brothers Michaelangelo and Eight spent the first of countless hours together as kids wearing out cassette tapes by KISS, Mötley Crüe and Van Halen. Or maybe it was when lifelong friends Eight and Ryan, who met in grade school in the late '80s, took the stage together at a talent show in Newark, Del. Ryan strutted like the late Michael Hutchence, as Eight strummed the licks of Tim Farriss. The song was 'New Sensation,' the band, of course, INXS. Whatever the case, Stealing December was officially born in March 2005, when bandmates Ryan, Eight and Michaelangelo responded to an ad placed on MySpace.com's Musician Xchange by Brandon Langer. A native of Lincoln, Neb., Langer moved to Newark only months earlier. Mullen and the Ristano boys were merely looking for a new guitarist. Instead, they found the missing piece of their musical puzzle in the singing, songwriting and guitar-playing Midwestern prodigy. "The chemistry was perfect from the start," Langer said. "Those first couple months definitely helped shape a great direction for the band. It's been amazing to watch this band grow and develop over the past couple years." ---------------------------------------------------- In just two-and-a-half years, Stealing December's driving rock 'n' roll sound has not only taken it's rightful place at the forefront of the Delaware/Philly music scene but also emerged on a national level with the band's victory in the Zippo Hot Tour competition last fall. The subsequent U.S. tour saw the foursome perform everywhere from Philadelphia to Orlando to Hollywood. The triumph also brought Stealing December a barrage of local and national media coverage, including spots on MTVNews.com, MTV radio, Westwood One Radio, Pollstar, liveDaily, the legendary 93.3 WMMR in Philadelphia and 93.7 WSTW in Wilmington, Del. Additionally, Stealing December's performance shot in December 2006 at Sunset Strip's famed Viper Room premiered in February on HDNet's True Music w/ Katie Daryl. "Their popularity is no fluke," said Mark Rogers, host of WSTW's "Hometown Heroes." "They have a repertoire of solid, catchy songs that rock. Stealing December is made up of great musicians that are a lot of fun to see play live." When the band returned from the road at the end of 2006, it began writing and crafting a batch of edgier, heavier songs that reflected a reshaped and matured musical direction. Those tracks, coupled with a handful of old favorites, would eventually compose Stealing December's debut LP, "Put It to Flame." "The sound went from more pop and less rock to more rock and less pop," Eight Ristano said. "We are still the same band, but now with more fire, passion and some dirt underneath our nails. We are just four guys who grew up having musical idols. Some the same, many different, but when you throw them all together, along with the experiences we've had the past two years, this is what you get." "Put It to Flame" was recorded in August 2007 at MilkBoy Studios in Ardmore, Pa., and produced by Tommy Joyner, whose credits include Grammy Award winners Dave Matthews and Digable Planets. The LP features a revamped version of the immensely popular anthem, "Story," which has received continued airplay on radio stations across the country, as well as the TV Guide Channel on Demand. "I think this new CD will really show what Stealing December really is," Langer said.