Promise to Burn
Gig Seeker Pro

Promise to Burn


Band Rock Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



""Baby You Know Who You Are""

One of the latest places to enter the live music game, River Nick's, is packed to the gills. If you were downtown, you had to notice.

What was the big deal? Promise to Burn.

If you haven't heard of this band, then you're definitely not plugged in to the local music scene. The reason is that PTB has become probably the most controversial band in Cape Girardeau -- a group that is unabashed in its purpose to make it big. They sound like popular acts -- think Nickelback and Matchbox 20; you get the picture -- and aren't afraid to acknowledge that fact.

And, not surprisingly, they're one of the most popular bands in Cape Girardeau. Now the question becomes, will Promise to Burn be the saviors of the local music scene?

A few weeks ago I wrote about how it seems sometimes that local live music gets so little support from the Cape Girardeau audience. Great bands like Fill -- an amazing local jazz-rock trio -- sometimes play shows to only a few people, most of them seeming not to care about the music at all.

Promise to Burn, however, is different. In the past, their local shows have been rare, but each one is packed, standing room only. The kind of packed house that within a few minutes can make you supremely nauseated because of its suffocating stuffiness. But hey, that's a successful rock show.

This band, with their emo-ish haircuts and unrelenting high-energy, guitar-based modern rock (I mean the kind you could easily hear on the radio) has really made a big impression on the Cape music scene, in ways good and bad.

For some they represent exactly what the scene needs to become even more vibrant -- a band with a hip, maybe even trendy, look and sound that can attract some major label attention. That kind of attention would be good for everybody, they say. Take Randy Mallett, for instance, the man behind Banned Promotions, a Web site that profiles local bands, reviews their stuff and helps them with other band stuff.

Randy and I communicated via e-mail, since his phone was acting squirrelly, but here's what he said through finger proxy.

"You can say a lot of things about the band Promise to Burn (and most everyone does), but that only tells me that whatever they're doing is good, because people are, indeed, talking about them. As far as their influence on the local scene, I can definitely see it as a positive thing. Hopefully they'll be successful and show everyone around here that you don't have to live in California to get noticed."

Others aren't so kind to PTB, and the band members know it. One of the big points of attack is that they haven't paid their dues, because PTB has played only a few local shows.

True. Gig vets they are not, at least not at home.

Second: PTB's sound is extremely (putting all kinds of emphasis and a dash of Tabasco on that word) radio-friendly. Radiohead they ain't, my friends (those of you who understood that reference probably also understand the name of my column).

Combine these two criticisms with the massive success PTB has already enjoyed -- download after download on MySpace, extremely packed local shows, playing in front of record company guys and working with record industry vets -- and you might begin to see how the scenesters would be talking. But as Randy pointed out, talk is good, even if it's bad.

And the PTB guys know it, too.

I talked to guitarist Luke Sample, who explained the band's unabashed commercial philosophy to me. Yes, Promise to Burn's goal is to make the big time, and instead of touring the traditional way, they plan to use the Internet a la bands like Panic! At The Disco to do it.

As far as paying dues, Sample says they spent two years writing songs in a basement before they revealed themselves to the public.

"When we first started the band we didn't see a lot of benefit in playing shows right off the bat without writing the best music we could," Sample said. Also, "There's a smarter way to market these days than driving around in a van."

He's right, folks. And for a band whose express purpose is to make it big, the Internet is probably the way to do so in the year 2007.

Given my music snobbery, my take on PTB goes something like this: I don't care much for their music, it's just too mainstream for my tastes. However, these guys are pretty good at that mainstream sound, their live show is high-energy, and best of all, they don't pretend to be something they're not. Sample and the other guys in Promise to Burn don't hide the fact that their goal is to make it big, and their music does sound radio-friendly.

So often bands with a mainstream sound like PTB pretend they're cutting-edge, producing a sound like no one else, when they know they're trying to be as popular as possible. Not so with these guys. As Marc Bolan once said, "Baby you know who you are." PTB does.

And all the talk over their role in the local music scene only ups the profile for everybody. Keep reading these pages to learn more about these guys in the coming weeks. Until then, go see some live music. - Southeast Missourian

"Review of And Everything After EP"

The first question I asked myself when I found this cd in my
mailbox was "will it live up to the hype?" If you know even a
little bit about the local scene you've heard of Promise to Burn.
Seemingly, they spend days, weeks, and months rehearsing and
recording, mixing and mastering....yet only playing at most, one
or two shows a month. But they've achieved things not many
bands in the area can proclaim, namely, an expansive fan base
and a professionally-produced, commercially viable cd. The cd
itself is simple but effective- a single insert, professional photos,
nice text, a bar code, and a sharp cover. Definitely one of the
nicer looking cd's I've seen from a local band.

The band worked with producer Malcom Springer (Matchbox 20, Collective Soul, Fear Factory, Greenwheel, Faith Hill, etc, etc) on the cd, and as a result, their Myspace page is blowing up, and they're sure to be selling cd's. Though some would say they haven't yet gained the the respect of everyone in the area ......why? I
couldn't wait to find out, as I popped the ep "And Everything After" in the old Bose.....

The first track on "And Everything After" is 'Hold Me Down', a short three-minute track, filled with wavy guitars and hooks - a catchy radio hit from beginning to end. As the song starts, the first you thing you notice is top-notch recording. Props to Malcom, Soundstage Studios, and engineer Brandon Drury (Echo Echo Studios) for a great sounding cd. The major label quality sets itself apart from others in the area, and the quality itself only falls about two inches shy of the best sounding, best produced cd's on the market today. An average listener wouldn't be able to tell the difference from this local cd, to any other LA "big studio engineered" cd. "Hold Me Down" sounds pro because of the good vocals/harmony, good mix, and just a touch of special effects here and there. The guitars are not your average local rock band guitars, by that I mean that it seems they play what it feels necessary to compliment the song - not to play the fastest, loudest, longest, but to "fit" the song accordingly. Heath's vocals become a shining point, and as the chorus quickly comes, I think to myself I can definitely hear this on the radio. I hate relating other popular bands to local bands' sound, but I can't help but to hear other elements of bands in the track; the rock-pop sound of Nickelback, the hooky guitars of Oleander, the catchy vocals of Matchbox 20, or the smooth breaks and transitions of Collective Soul. Perhaps due to Malcom Springer's involvement, I'm not sure. Though the more you hear the track, the more the recognition of other pop bands fades away. "And Everything After" is a short, well produced, rock-pop track that speaks of lies, deceit, pain, and closure (no pun intended).

"Breathe Out" comes in smoothly with vocals on top of an acoustic guitar, and transitions into a light verse, which yeilds way to a very catchy chorus. I don't know if I'm just used to hearing songs where you can't understand the lyrics, or I just listen to more metal than pop, but I'm just not a big fan of the "feel" of this song-maybe due to the overall happiness vibe of the song. It's just, dare I say, different for local music. However, it has the big market production that could appeal to many people. Heath's vocals on this track may be the strongest, and he stands above the band on this one. Melodic guitars drive the song with languid bass and tight drums supplying the beat. The easiest and only way to describe the song is, well, just damn catchy. It's one of those songs that stick in your head, whether you like it or not. In my opinion, I didn't like the song because of the vibe, the expected breakdowns and vocal harmonizing-though, spot on as they may have been. The oft-referenced phrase "sounds like every other band out there" comes to light for me, but at the same time I acknowledge it's a very strong, very tight track which could be a number one hit someday, Hey, you never know.

The third track off the ep "Head" is probably the most recognized Promise to Burn track to date. Getting air time on local radio and a strong play count on Myspace has driven the song to be the band's staple track, and with good reason. "Head" is the ultimate pop rock song - short, neatly packaged, catchy lyrics, enjoyable hooks, and strong vocals. Here's another one that sticks in your head, and that's one of the most important thing a band can understand when writing lyrics - make people sing it. "Say you'll run away with me, and leave this all behind"..... "and I don't know if I can get you outta my head....". Everyone can relate to those lyrics, and with such a strong, hooky chorus, I can see alot of radio play in the future. I can also hear the song in soundtracks or TV shows ala the O.C., King of Queens, or basically any FOX TV sitcom. Overall, just a fantastically produced song that would be strong with a large demographic. I'm sure industry types can find alot to do with a song of this magnitude.

"Sweet Decline" is perhaps my favorite track off the cd. It will probably be overlooked by some of the other catchier tracks on the cd, but has a really nice groove to it. Some of the most interesting breakdowns are prevelant on "Sweet Decline", and I enjoyed hearing a more defined bass in some parts. Damon is a terrific bass guitarist, and it's good to hear such a well-toned bass stand out alone, although the bass never lost volume in the mix. Again, great vocals and harmonizing on this track.

"Papercuts", the last song on the ep 'And Everything After', is the closest to a ballad you'll hear. The word "ballad" is so often used, but some of the hardest rocking bands on the planet have had great quote/unquote "ballads". It's almost what I expected to hear when I received the cd- a slower, melodic, love song type of feel to it. However, after hearing some of the stronger tracks before, this song is almost welcomed. It slows down the mood, and provides a very emotional setting to end the cd.

So, after hearing the debut cd from Promise to Burn, I asked myself those same questions. "Does it live up to the hype?" I have to say yes, emphatically. With the experience and talent of producer/hook master Malcom Springer and the hard work ethic of the group, the cd far surpassed even my expectations. I wouldn't be telling you the truth if I said I would go out and buy this cd, local band or not, however I can say with sincerity that if I heard it on the radio I could say to myself "wow, that's a great song." Call them pop, call them rock, call them pop rock, call them southern punk rockabilly alternative if you want, the fact is the band Promise to Burn has succesfully produced one of, if not the, best sounding cd's in southern Missouri. I don't recall ever hearing an album as tight, and professional sounding as "And Everything After" from this area. It would be nice to see a metal band from the region talk to record labels such as Roadrunner, Universal, etc, but what difference does that make really. I'm talking about genres here. I can relate to the underground scene, and experimental, "non-popular" music but what really matters here is that a band from southeast Missouri really has a shot to make it with such a good demo. Which brings me to the next burning question, "why haven't they gained the respect."

To be truthful, I don't really know. We have a hometown band that has the best chance to be noticed by the industry, and instead of supporting them, alot of people shoot them down. Of course, this is only a small minority, and is easily brushed off by the band members, but the actions make me wonder if it's jealousy. I can't speak for other bands, but as a musician myself, I can't help but to wonder what would've happened if my old band had such a professional package as PTB. But I can't explain the minority, only ask them to take a step back, listen to the music with an open mind, and then, and then only, judge the band. After all, it is just your opinion. But what it all comes down to is, will the opinions of the majority outweigh the opinions of the minority? In almost every scenario, it does indeed, and in the example of the band Promise to Burn, should reflect the theory that the band strives for, to succeed in music and to make a career out of something other than factory, truck driving, or grocery stores. Best wishes to the band, and good luck. -


Promise to Burn - And Everything After EP released in 2006. "Head" is the title of the first single, and it has received radio play from a variety of stations across the country.



Quickly becoming one of the most popular modern rock bands in the Midwest, Promise to Burn is defined by a distinctive sound born from combining extremely cohesive live performances with a vocalist who demands the listeners' immediate attention with his inimitable voice and presence. This unique cohesion is due to the fact that the band is comprised of two sets of brothers, Ben and Luke Sample and Derek and Damon Pearson who have matured musically with one another since first picking up instruments. In addition, members of the band also have a history of performing with vocalist, Heath Hartwell, since 2001 which has given them several years of experience performing in front of large live crowds. All five members also attended college together at Southeast Missouri State University earning seven different degrees ranging from Agricultural Business to Cell Molecular Biology.

The current incarnation of Promise to Burn as an original act began in 2004 when they shifted all their focus to songwriting for a period of nearly two years. Another local musician, Bob Glastetter, took an interest in the band and took their extensive catalog of original songs to his old friend, Malcolm Springer. Malcolm happened to be one of the most talented rock producers on the planet. Springer's credits are quite impressive having engineered and produced countless major acts such as: Matchbox Twenty, Collective Soul, Fear Factory, Faith Hill, and the multiplatinum Spiderman Soundtrack. Malcolm was also single-handedly responsible for discovering, producing, co-writing with two very successful bands: Full Devil Jacket, and the Grammy-nominated Greenwheel.

After an impromptu live tryout, Malcolm was quickly impressed with the band's songwriting, work ethic, and potential. Promise to Burn immediately began pre-production with Springer within two weeks of the tryout in early 2006. By the end of April, the songs were mixed at SoundStage Studios in Nashville. The debut EP, And Everything After, was released two months later.

After the release of the EP, Promise to Burn quickly developed a huge online following while becoming a regional favorite in the Midwest through their live performances. The group has experience performing in countless regional shows as well as headlining the world-famous Viper Room and the Plush Lounge in Los Angeles, as well as headlining 12th & Porter in Nashville. The group has gathered various media attention in the Midwest by regional newspapers, radio stations, and television news programs. The group has also warranted national attention when they had a rehearsal and interview filmed for Fox's American Idol program in 2006 after lead singer, Heath Hartwell, made it to the late rounds in his first attempt to be the next American Idol.

In the last few months, Promise to Burn has been playing a variety of regional shows where they played mix several well-known cover songs with their growing collection of originals. To spice up their live performances, Promise to Burn went to an extreme measure: they decided to let their alter-egos, an 80's glam metal group called Blind Lion, perform at many of their shows. Claiming to be the comeback of a hair band that dates back to 1983 (who composed every successful rock hit of the 1980's), Blind Lion's delusions are a bit far-fetched. However those delusions combined with the 1980's hair, attitudes, attire, and persona's transform a normal modern rock concert into a high-energy, unforgettable party that is guaranteed to entertain.