It's been awhile since the production trio known as the Matrix worked on such a highly anticipated album. But that will change this spring when Tokio Hotel release the follow-up to their English language breakthrough album, Scream. The yet-untitled album is being co-produced by the pop songwriters/producers best known for their work with Avril Lavigne, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Korn.
"We're in the middle of working on the Tokio Hotel record right now," Matrix member Lauren Christy said Tuesday, the same day the collective's long-lost album featuring a then-unknown singer by the name of Katy Perry dropped on iTunes. "We've done eight songs for that record … and I love the singer's voice and the fact that they play their own instruments. They're a real band, and they're very dark. They're this almost-perfect, gorgeous-looking band but with music that's very dark."
So far, Christy said the German group has laid down tracks at two different Los Angeles studios with the Matrix and with their own in-house production team over the past few months, with a mix that includes very "strong, anthem-y" songs with a dark edge and "lots of guitars."
Fellow Matrix producer Scott Spock said the sessions have been one of the most exciting and enjoyable of his career. "We've worked with so many different people, and when you get into a room where magic just starts happening … it makes everything really fun," he said, comparing the spark to the one he felt working with Lavigne and Korn. "It's the same experience with Tokio Hotel. … They are all really talented and can write and play, and they're the real deal."
Spock said he can't recall the last time he worked with a singer who had as much star quality as TH leader Bill Kaulitz. "The music business really needs Tokio Hotel right now,""They're reviving that image of what a rock star is. … Their writing has developed massively, and we're experimenting a bit with some Depeche Mode influence. … It doesn't sound like anything else out there right now. People don't want to hear a bunch of 808s and Auto-Tuned vocals. They want the real stuff."
Christy added that one of the other things she's grown to love about the rockers is their strong sense of identity, one that seems impervious to the Matrix's tendency toward a big, bright pop sound. "The band is so aware of what they are, and when you have an artist that's that strong, you can't pull them and homogenize them and make them sound like they're not. They're very opinionated about what they want."
That strong sense of self has made it easier to work with the guys as they try to introduce some more American rock styles to their sound, Spock said, while working hard not to lose that unique essence that has made them worldwide stars already. "The push and pull between the camps has been great," he said. "And I think the album will be great because of that. I'm going to look back on this in 10 years and say, 'Wow, I worked with Tokio Hotel!' "
Christy said TH came to the Matrix because they really liked the ballad they'd co-written with Avril Lavigne, "I'm With You," as well as their production on Korn's See You on the Other Side album.
"They like the sadness of that song and were really touched by it," she said of the Lavigne tune. "They like the Korn records too, but they said, 'We wouldn't do that, but it's really good. But it's not truthful to us as a band.' " So far, the Matrix have been co-writing all the songs they've worked on with TH for the album, and at press time, Scott said they had completed work on six of those tunes.
The album is tentatively due in late spring, according to Christy; a spokesperson for TH's label could not be reached for comment at press time. "Their confidence in knowing exactly who they are and what they're doing, given how youthful they are, is amazing," Spock said. "They definitely bring the dark side of the pop song, not like a Lamb of God record but with rock influences that will cross over to so many different kids … and even some adults."
In addition to the TH album, Christy said the Matrix have been grinding away on Korn singer Jonathan Davis' solo debut, an album by "iCarly" star Miranda Cosgrove, the next Ashley Tisdale CD and the soundtrack to the rebooted "Fame."