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MACH22 is Ready to Rock ‘n’ Roll.

November 8, 2011

Text by Kevin Stairiker. Images by G.W. Miller III.

How does one go from playing with the likes of the legendary Roots crew and being a part of Jay-Z’s touring outfit to fronting “the hardest rock band you’ve never heard of?”

Simple. You don’t take the easy way out.

Lamont Caldwell sure hasn’t.

Caldwell talks at great length about nearly everything but all of it is worthwhile and quotable. His belief in the core ideals of rock ‘n’ roll is damn near inspiring, even in the face of the seemingly diminishing popularity of the genre.

“Rock as a genre always has its periods of popularity and decline,” he explains. “When Nirvana came out in the early 90s, everybody thought rock was finished. But it just morphed into grunge. It always comes back.”

Caldwell is bringing that fast-paced, head-banging rock back to Philadelphia with his band MACH22. They deliver exactly what you think they would – hard and heavy, blues-influenced rock ‘n roll.

Though Caldwell has been the only constant member of the band since it was created in 2005, he believes that he’s finally found the right lineup to really make an impact: Ty Asoudegan, a School of Rock instructor, on lead guitar, veteran Frank Day on bass and Athens, Georgia transplant Scott Smith on drums.

Caldwell, a striking figure adorned with tattoos and jewelry, handles lead vocals and plays guitar, though he is also a multi-instrumentalist.

He’s been in and out of Philadelphia as a touring musician since the 90s. He’s backed up Bilaal, the Dave Matthews Band, Amos Lee and the aforementioned Roots. He toured as a saxophone player with Jay-Z, playing huge stadiums around the world.

Coming back and playing bar gigs with MACH22 isn’t that much different , he says.

“I try to treat every single gig I do exactly the same,” Caldwell says. “You have to be nice to everyone everywhere you go, from the sound men to the guys working the lights. You really don’t want to burn bridges.”

Caldwell will keep that in mind as MACH22 puts the finishing touches on the currently untitled follow-up to their last EP, the appropriately titled The EP.

Starting on December 17, the band will have a standing gig at The Legendary Dobbs on South Street, performing every six weeks.

“My sister gave me some really good advice a couple years back that I try to live by,” Caldwell says. “Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Just put it on your car and drive.”

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