Featuring: Megan & Liz, Kitten, Sirah, Wild Rompit, The Assembly Line, Mighty Fox, Tera Melos, Emily Katter, Chris Chace and Matt Hires.
HIGHLIGHT ISSUE 20 MIGHTY FOX – THE ASSEMBLY LINE – WILD ROMPIT – SIRAH – KITTEN & MORE MAGAZINE co-founder â€“ editor-in-chief ashley osborn co-founder â€“ art director cara bahniuk managing editor jenn stookey content director anjel lopez copy editor courtney dondelinger marketing coordinator perry fish co-founder mckenzie hughes contributing photographers cara bahniuk, matt burke, dan deslover, courtney dondelinger, tarina doolittle, jordan fischels, brad heaton, anjel lopez, nicole mago, charlie martel, david mullis, ashley osborn, heather phillips, petey place, danny raybon, sam roenfeldt, sam san roman, daniel shippey, jared thomas and amy willard IGHLIGH contributing writers (online & publication) ryan argast, haley black, jennifer boylen, colleen casey, rebecca del castillo, trevor figge, perry fish, tamara fuentes, will howard, logan kant, jessica klinner, matthew leimkuehler, daisy marietta, theresa pham, taylor pittman, karlin reed, ryan bahniuk, annette schaefer, alyssa schmidt and morgan waldorf digital marketing team rachel carter, sierra eldridge, misty frederick, mary patterson, megan shea, catie suliga and becca white news posters jordyn lockwood, heather malan and taylor miller _________________________ www.highlightmagazine.net facebook facebook.com/highlightmagazine twitter @highlightzine instagram @highlightzine _________________________ thank you atlantic records, co5 media, big picture media, promenade music entertainment, us/them group, jesus martinez, lazy oaf, magic stick, markham jenkins and mighty fox, megan & lix, ana guillen and the collective la, and xl recordings. also, a special thanks to all of our amazing readers! _________________________ 06 megan & liz cara bahniuk the assembly line sam san roman kitten ashley osborn tera melos jordan fischels 07 mighty fox submitted sirah ashley osborn matt hires submitted wild rompit sam san roman october 05 this or that 08 clothing highlight 09 film highlight 10 label highlight 11 venue highlight 12 industry highlight 14 matt hires 16 chris chace 18 emily katter 22 tera melos 24 the assembly line 26 wild rompit 28 sirah 30 kitten 32 megan & liz 40 riot fest 44 virgin mobile freefest 46 photos 48 reviews THIS OR THAT 38% 42% 10% BOTH BOTH 52% 53% 5% 6% 13% BOTH 81% HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 5 MEGAN & LIZ - 32 THE ASSEMBLY LINE - 24 KITTEN - 30 TERA MELOS - 20 22 - MIGHTY FOX 28 - SIRAH 14 - MATT HIRES 26 - WILD ROMPIT CATCH ONTO THESE TRENDS COMPANY: Lazy Oaf ltd. FOUNDER/DESIGNER: Gemma Shiel MARKETING: Jerry O’Sullivan LOCATION: London, UK WEBSITE: www.lazyoaf.com COMPANY STORY? Founder and designer Gemma Shiel set up the brand in 2001 after she graduated from university. She started screen-printing her drawings onto t-shirts in her dad’s garage and sold them on a market stall in East London so this is how Lazy Oaf was born. Over 10 years on and Lazy Oaf design seasonal men’s and women’s collections which are available online at www.lazyoaf.com, in our flagship store in central London and in over 200 stockists worldwide. The name isn’t a very exciting story – Gemma was getting some t-shirts printed and had about 5 minutes to come up with a brand name. Initially it was going to be Fat Trucker but luckily she went with Lazy Oaf. The name ties into the simply, low-fi drawing style of the prints. Plus we do like watching telly and eating hamburgers. up a following of dedicated customers over the years that continues to grow as we expand as a brand. WHAT ARE YOUR THREE FAVORITE DESIGNS? **From their Fall 2013 line 1) Women’s Tarty Jumper: I love tartan so I am really excited to see Lazy Oaf putting it’s own twist on this classic British fabric. I am looking forward to wearing this crop sweatshirt over a fitted shirt with chunky boots. 2) Men’s Mac Jacket: We have taken things to the next level for our men’s jackets for fall ‘13 and the Mac Jacket is a particular highlight - I love the block colors and extra attention to detail. 3) Bear Necessities Backpack: This fleecy teddy bear backpack is everything my 15-year-old self would have dreamed of, therefore I love it and will still be running around in it as my twenty-something self. WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOUR BRAND REPRESENTS? Lazy Oaf designs combine bright colors and bold prints to create stand-out designs that people will look forward to wearing. Designs are light hearted and often have an element of wit – we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously. A lot of the designs are inspired by Gemma being a teenager in the nineties. WHY PEOPLE SHOULD CHECK OUT YOUR BRAND? REASON YOU STARTED YOUR BRAND? Gemma applied her illustrations to some t-shirts and they were a hit with her friends so she decided to turn it into a business. The designs have continued to get a good response and we have gradually built To find unique, statement designs that you will not find anywhere else. We also have an odd sense of humor so we hope that looking at our products will make you smile. Plus, we’re not just a clothing brand – we design accessories, greetings cards, jewelry, stationery, art and more so there is something for everyone and there are always new things happening. Anyone amongst the living can look around and see that zombies are taking over the world. Well not literally, but they continue saturate our television screens, music videos, and especially movies theaters. Ever stop to wonder why? Why can we just not get enough of these flesh-eating freaks? Think past just zombie films but consider video games, novels, comic books, zombie runs and even music. It is estimated that in the past four years alone Americans have spent over $500 million on zombie costumes just for Halloween. Is this just another odd trend or is it a reflection of something deeper? Could this craze be oddly tied to our hard economic times? Zombie films have been terrifying audiences for years, starting with films like The Night of the Living Dead in 1968; the rotting corpses of the dead rose from their graves wandering about craving the taste of human flesh. Zombies have really changed since then; of course they remain true to their original depiction as ravenous cannibals but they are now faster, stronger and even a popular social trend. Could this obsession with a zombie apocalypse in a “survival of the fittest” society be a channel for the disempowerment we as a generation are experiencing within our own world today? Ironically, another time in history where zombie obsessions hit an all time highthe Great Depression. Popular films like White Zombie and Revolt of the Zombies filled theater screens in the 1930’s, when the economy had hit an all time low with unemployment at 25%. In an era when “entertainment” spending was almost nonexistent, people found love in zombie films. Forwarding to today it makes perfect sense for this trend to become so popular once again. In our modern day society, zombies in many ways have provided an outlet for people feeling the pressure of everyday burdens. College graduates are swimming in debt, businesses are closing, and people all over our country are losing their jobs; yet millions of us tune in each to week to watch The Walking Dead and are assured how small our problems actually are and how much worse they could get. Zombies have even provided our society with the perfect platform to discuss all of our modern day issues without directly speaking about them. Allowing us to view through a grim fictional lens, a zombie apocalypse can be a metaphor in which we can see the real problems of the world. Through this we can confront realistic issues of disease, chaos and social deconstruction while using zombies as the catalyst we can find comfort in the imagination of it all. Arguably this trend has been most evident in the numerous zombie films that have surfaced the past few years with studios and fans alike rushing be apart of this social phenomenon. Recent films like Warm Bodies or World War Z (the most expensive zombie film ever made at $220 million) have brought this cultural obsession mainstream and have accounted for over $5 billion towards our economy. In fact, since 2008 there have been over 200 zombie films released worldwide most of which claiming large success (World War Z managed to gross over $500 million worldwide.) Inevitably there are many more zombie films to come and who can help but be excited? These films are gory, brutal and if they can carry a subtle underlying message as wellall the better. So keep running guys, the grotesque undead aren’t slowing down anytime soon and they are coming for us. FILMS HIGHLIGHTED WHY THE UNDEAD JUST WON’T DIE REVIEW: Rachel Carter HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 9 YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO... British independent record label, XL Recordings (XL), began as an offshoot of Beggars Banquet Records in 1989. The label originally launched to release rave and dance music, but has since changed its tune. For co-owner Richard Russell, music was an escape from the boredom of the London suburbs where he grew up. After working in various areas of the industry, Russell took the helm when XL’s founder Tim Palmer retired in 1995. The label’s turning point was in 1997 when it released The Prodigy’s third album. But, it became a major player when Radiohead and The White Stripes joined the label. Russell focuses on finding and developing long-term artists that are original and inventive. While it releases only six albums a year, XL has earned respect and sales with a small but impressive roster that includes Adele, Jack White, M.I.A., Vampire Weekend and Gil Scott-Heron. KING KRULE - Nineteen-year-old British singer, songwriter and musician, Archy Marshall (King Krule), is one of the newest additions to the XL roster. Marshall spent three years studying at the same performing arts school as labelmate, Adele. While at school, he recorded and mixed his first single “Out Getting Ribs” (2010) under the moniker, Zoo Kid. In 2011, Marshall started playing as King Krule and released a self-titled EP on True Panther Sounds. King Krule’s influences include Gene Vincent and Fela Kuti, but his “darkwave” style of music is compared most to the sound of Morrisey. Make sure to check out Marshall’s various projects showcasing significantly different styles of music under names like those above and others like Edgar The Beatmaker. 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, his debut album, was released on XL in September. Listen to: “Out Getting Ribs” SIGUR RÓS - Iceland’s Sigur Rós (Victory Rose) is the biggest rock band in Icelandic history. Named after the sister of one of the members, the band formed in 1994 as a trio, composed of guitarist/ vocalist Jónsi Birgisson, bassist Georg Hólm and drummer Agust. As teenagers these multi-instrumentalists quickly landed a record deal with Iceland’s Bad Taste label and released their debut LP, Von (1997). In 1999, Orri Páll Dýrason took over on drums and the band released their first single outside of Iceland, “Sven-G-Englar.” The resulting hype led to their breakout year in 2000 when the band’s epic and ethereal sound gained increasing popularity with fans and filmmakers worldwide. While most songs are sung in Icelandic, some are sung in a made-up language termed Vonlenska or ‘Hopelandic’. After several successful releases and a hiatus, the band’s seventh album, a metal/techno influenced, Kveikur (2013) was released on XL. The band’s documentary film Heima (2007) is a must see. Listen To: “Hoppípolla” THE XX - The xx is a three-piece English indie-pop band from Wandsworth, London. Founding members Oliver Sim (vocals, bass) and Romy Madley-Croft (vocals, lead guitar) met in high school and started the band in 2005 when they were 15. After adding Jamie Smith (beats, MPC sampler), the band recorded a self-produced debut album titled xx (2009). The release of their first single “Crystalised” launched the band into the stratosphere, garnering widespread critical praise and the coveted Mercury prize in 2010. This success led to a headlining tour, features on TV, major media events and appearances at five major music festivals. With a blend of soulful atmospheric indie rock, The xx has mastered the use of vocal interplay and balances a minimalist sound that is equally warm and chilling. Make sure to check out the bands second album, Coexist (2012) and see them on tour this fall. Listen to: “Crystalised” WORDS: Logan Kant VENUE HIGHLIGHT MAGIC STICK - DETROIT, MI HISTORY: A lot has changed in the city of Detroit, MI in the last 50 years, but an appreciation for great music has not been swayed. The Majestic theatre is a great testament to this. Built in 1915, The Majestic Theatre was originally used for showing films. In 1934 the theatre went under some cosmetic reconstruction after a large part of the building was removed to accommodate the expansion of Woodward Ave. After being closed for several years, the theatre was purchased in 1984 and was renovated for its current use as a multi-entertainment center, including the Magic Stick. WHY PLAY HERE? Whether you are attending a concert or performing one, the Magic Stick is a great place to be! The Majestic Theatre offers bowling and billiards, so the party doesnâ€™t stop after the show. The Magic stick has two full service bars available as well as an outdoor roof top patio called the Alley Deck. Critics from both Rolling Stone and Metro Times have rated the Magic Stick as the best place to see a live show in the city of Detroit. The 2 feet tall by 27 feet wide stage is perfect for an intimate show, a great experience for both the audience and any band lucky enough to perform on it. TWITTER: @majesticdetroit FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/majesticdetroit WEBSITE: www.majesticdetroit.com OCTOBER 3RD Dead Ending OCTOBER 11TH Deer Tick OCTOBER 18TH Little Green Cars OCTOBER 23RD Those Darlins REVIEW: Perry Fish PHOTO: detroit1701.org/MajesticTheater.html HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 11 YOU’LL BE AMAZED BY JOB: Merchandise Manager LOCATION: Centralia, WA RESUME: letlive., No Braggin Rights, Hundredth, Issues (this fall) and more WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STORY? I will never forget that tour. 2. Casey Jones’ final tour with NBR/Hundredth. It was my last tour at the time with some of my closest friends No Bragging Rights, I didn’t know it at the time but I grew up so much with them. It was just a fun tour, I love hardcore/punk music and it was great to be around it. I met a lot of good people on that tour. 3. Vans Warped Tour 2013. I hated the first four weeks. I felt so disconnected and alone. But as the days went by, I became friends with people, the routine got easier and it became my world. I had lack of cell phone service every day so I could barely talk to anyone back at home. I wouldn’t have survived without my loyal merch dudes Morgan (The Story So Far), Drew (Stick To Your Guns), Warney (Hands Like Houses), Ryan (Motion City Soundtrack), Wyatt (Tonight Alive, Ryan (The Wonder Years), Cory (Chiodos), Austin (Memphis May Fire), Kyle (Reel Big Fish) and just so many people that I wish I could list but that would go forever and who I’m so entirely grateful for. Some days I felt like quitting but because of them I survived. I’ve been booking shows since 2005 in my area. With that, I met a lot of good people who toured constantly. I had just graduated high school and my friends’ indie band, Turned Up Missing, needed a merch guy. At this point I had just started to work on getting my history degree but I was having trouble with the financial aid office. When this tour offer came up with them and this band called Goodnight Sunrise, I said, “Well, I’m just going to tour and figure out the rest.” It was three weeks long and once I got home I asked my friends in No Bragging Rights if I could film a documentary. I didn’t ever do that documentary; instead I ended up working for them for almost four years. Around two years ago, letlive. asked me to do merch for them because their previous merch guy became their tour manager. I just had finished Casey Jones’ final tour with NBR/Hundredth and I thought it’d be a nice change. Two weeks in the tour, letlive. asked me if I wanted to be permanent. This March will be two years with letlive. and I’ve never been so excited. I really work for bands I believe in, musically and personally. Money has never been an objective. My favorite part about working with letlive. has to be that I can be creative. Jason Butler (vocalist) and I design/concept ideas for merchandise all the time and it makes the job more refreshing every tour. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH? WHAT ARE THREE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CAREER MOMENTS? 1.Touring with Underoath. They are one of my favorite bands of all time and when I was told we were doing a tour with them, mewithoutyou and As Cities Burn, I hung up the phone with RJ (bassist of letlive). The first day was just so bizarre, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would get to tour with those bands and here I was talking and joking with them. I’m not one to idolize people but it was just wild. The sad part is that it was the final tour and short lived. But I have no real goals to be frank. This is still a hobby, it’d be nice to make money but eventually, I will be going back to school to get my history degree, hopefully my Ph.D. I would like to go to Japan and Europe someday but as of right now, I’m content. Hopefully there are just more good days ahead. This is my job because it’s my main source of income but I just see it as a mom and pop shop my friends own… that I help run. @jesusisbrown jesusernestomartinez.tumblr.com flickr.com/jesustakespictures HOME: Tampa, FL NOW JAMMING: This World Won’t Last Forever, But Tonight We Can Pretend - Full-Length (Atlantic Records) CURRENTLY: Recovering from tour with Parachute MATT HIRES HAS HAD A VERY interesting foray into his musical career and we were very excited to learn about how it all began. Matt’s father is a musician, and he felt that both of his parents were very influential on his musical evolution and general love for music. His parents encouraged him to learn an instrument at a young age, even listening to music around the house and in the car. His Floridian roots definitely influenced some of his song writing as well, though he didn’t feel it was helpful or hurtful to his musical career or the difficulty of his career path. While it’s hard to pick a favorite part of the process, he explained that if he absolutely had to choose, it would be recording in the studio. “It’s so much fun to dig into the songs and try to figure out what they’re supposed to sound like. Also, singing in the studio is just one of my favorite things in the world to do,” he explained. He recently released a new record, This World Won’t Last Forever, But Tonight We Can Pretend, which he went on to tell us about. He actually ended up spending a lot less time recording this new album than he did on the first one. Working with the same producer as Take Us To The Start, Eric Ross, helped the process go a lot quicker, since they’ve known each other for several years and have become friends. They know how the other thinks and were on the same page throughout the recording process. To quote, “we were like an old married couple in the studio.” What makes This Won’t Last Forever, But Tonight We Can Pretend different from the last album, is that Matt has matured a lot as a songwriter in the past four years since the release of Take Us to the Start. Although it keeps its singer/songwriter heart, a lot of the new songs are more pop, but more honest at the same time. They also experimented in the studio, creating more lush arrangements and more depth to the sounds. From the new album, Matt’s favorite song is “When I Was Young,” because he felt it was very autobiographical and probably the most honest song he’s ever written. He had been going through a period of writer’s block at the time, so he sat down on the couch and asked himself what it was that made him start writing songs in the first place. And “When I Was Young” is the song that came from that. Having worked with Sara Bareilles, another talented singer/songwriter, we were curious to find out what the experience was like. Matt really enjoyed collaborating with her, even though he didn’t know her before working together. His producer, Eric Ross, had recently finished Sara’s record, so when Eric and Matt were in the studio working on Take Us to the Start, Eric thought it would be fun to have her come in so they could write a song together. They ended up writing “You In The End,” and she sang on the recording. Since he’s been compared to well-known artists like John Mayer, Jack Johnson and Bright Eyes, we were wanted know how that made him feel about his own work. Since he himself makes comparisons with other artists, he doesn’t mind them. But he noted that he doesn’t always understand the comparisons he gets about his music. Although he’s not quite playing to the crowd sizes that John Mayer is, he has opened up for some big names on stage, like Dave Matthews in 2008. Though it was “just on a side-stage at some amphitheaters in Florida.” Matt had a lot of fun playing for everyone as they walked into the venue, some of whom stopped to watch. This year, he toured for a month supporting Matchbox 20, which was a blast for him. “Playing music for a few thousand people every night isn’t a bad way to spend a month,” he expressed. Earlier in 2013, Matt performed “Restless Heart” on VH1’s Big Morning Buzz. Since he had never been on live national TV before, it was a really cool experience for him. It was great, but he admitted that he was nervous for it - which is pretty understandable for anyone at their live television debut. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper interview without delving into the difficult parts of the career of a musician. Fortunately for Matt, he didn’t have it all too hard. “I think the most difficult thing is trying to figure out who you want to be as a musician and artist in a time where singer/songwriters are a dime a dozen.” A very true statement, but luckily he’s learned to stop comparing himself to other artists and just focus on what he does. Releasing This World Won’t Last Forever, But Tonight We Can Pretend has been the highlight of his career so far. As he should be, he is really proud of the record and feels that whether it sells a couple thousand or a couple million records, he’ll be okay with it. He’s put out a collection of songs that he believes in, and that’s all that matters. What a healthy, realistic view - one that many fans will hopefully come to really appreciate. PHOTO: Submitted INTERVIEW & STORY: Daisy Marietta HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 15 HOME: Los Angeles, CA NOW JAMMING: Any Given Day - EP (Morningside Music) CURRENTLY: Finishing up The Unplugged Tour BEING A MUSICIAN WAS PRETTY much inevitable for Chris Chace. He learned to play piano as a child from his grandmother and even traveled to Austria to not only to study but to also write music. While on his first national tour, Highlight got to catch up with him and learned all there is to know about his start, his songs and where he is going as a musician. Chace is no stranger to expression; a demo of his song “See You Smile” was a semi-finalist in an International Songwriting Competition, his website also displays some of his original artwork and he has been writing music since he was a kid. That being said, choosing to actually be a musician was one of the biggest struggles of his career. “It’s definitely not the safest direction to take, but you only live once, and I imagine other artists can relate to that as well,” he said. “I’m most thankful that I get to do this as a career! Anytime anyone, myself included, gets to do their favorite thing as their job, there’s not much more you could ask for.” Regardless, it seems as though fate had him set up to be a touring musician from the get go. As a kid, Chace traveled form hotel room to hotel room, but he doesn’t view his unconventional childhood as a burden. “I never realized how much being on the move as a kid would help me later in life. I had always heard over and over again how disorienting being on a long tour can be, and trust me, it is. But, because of the way I grew up, I actually don’t mind waking up in a random place every day… I kind of like it,” he admitted. Let’s hope he likes it, because he has no plans of stopping anytime soon. Chace knows that playing music is exactly what he’s meant to do. “What keeps me going is really, really simple. The specifics end up being different, but the base is always the same. It’s just remembering how much I love playing music, and how much I love connecting with people through songs. That’s enough to make anything crazy that comes up fade from importance,” he said. “What I do hope, is that they [the fans] feel something real, that they are reminded of what they care about, or that they are reconnected with the real world for three minutes while disconnecting from all the noise and distractions of our supposedly more ‘connected’ modern world. That’s important to me,” he continued. On tour, his set is just him, his guitar and a piano. He is simply honest and real, without any of the extra stuff. He writes music in hopes to connect to and understand people, and that seems to be the only constant factor in his writing process. “It’s always been solo. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and my process has never changed: there is no process! But I always start and finish a song on acoustic guitar or piano, not on a computer,” he said. “About half of my songs are based on personal experiences, half on personal encounters. I really care about people in general, strangers and friends. So, for the songs inspired by people’s experiences around me, they came to be because I wanted to document/empathize/understand their situation, and put it down to music,” Chace added. Chace’s EP, Any Given Day, has been out for a few months, and while it has gotten quite a bit of attention, he could not be more excited for the release of his full length album later this year. “I’m especially excited about that because my personal favorite song, ‘For Nothing At All’ is on it, and I can’t wait for people to hear it,” he commented. Until then, make sure to catch Chris Chace playing both the West and East coast and stay tuned for another big tour with his name on the bill! PHOTO: Submitted by Promenade Music Entertainment INTERVIEW & STORY: Abby Welsh HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 17 EMILY KATTER HOME: New York, NY NOW JAMMING: Shining Now - EP (Self-Released) HAVING A HEART BROKEN SUCKS, but have you ever had your heart explode? Probably not, unless you’ve heard of sensational pop singer Emily Katter’s song “Heart Explosion.” Her big voice is definitely made for the big city where her heart truly lies: New York City. Katter decided to pursue her passion for music when her elementary school music class experience led her in a direction she now calls her career. “My teacher reprimanded me for singing loudly over the other students, which was what prompted my parents to enroll my in a musical theater program,” Katter explained. “I’m very thankful for that!” Katter’s full-of-life music, intriguing smile and unforgettable hair are all reasons she sets her self apart from all of our favorite singers. With a background in classical jazz and pop, Katter writes song full of passion, soul and dance for her fans to enjoy. Living in NYC has been extremely crucial in Katter’s music career because of the inspiration and creativity it brought about in her song writing as well as the endless opportunities it has provided her with. She is blessed with the music venues, studios, writers and producers she has been able to work with. Her outgoing and strong personality has shaped her career as an artist and songwriter, which she prides herself on. Releasing her EP was a memorable experience for Katter because of the upbeat and positive vibe it gives fans from listening. “I hope that my fans discover positive and inspirational messages through all my music,” she explained. Katter’s songs are inspired in different ways, yet all mean the same thing— insight. “Sometimes they come from personal experiences, while other times they come from people or places I observe,” she added. “It’s really a great experience to be able to write about what I want.” With every job comes hardships, and for Katter that is “finding a way to stand out and promote herself in such a saturated environment.” As a new artist, she is still trying to define herself through her music to her fans. But unlike our favorite pop artists, Katter focuses on making sure her voice highlights each song and every track without too much production. Because Katter is all about writing her own songs, it sparked an interest in the publishing and licensing company, Fieldhouse, which is geared towards artists who do their own song writing. The company has featured Katter’s music on The Katie Couric Show and is working on planning an up and coming show from the “Green Room” on Couric’s set. Katter’s producer Dan Omelio, ROBOPOP produced her EP Shining Now and has co-wrote and produced with Maroon 5, Gym Class Heroes and Lana Del Rey. She has known Dan since college and has developed a valuable relationship with him since then. “He is super talented and I am more than honored to work with him,” Katter added. While song writing is important to Katter, she doesn’t prefer to write her songs along. She did a lot of collaborating while writing the songs on her EP; she wrote some of the lyrics on her own, but enjoys writing with other people who can help inspire a message for a song. “I just feel like its great to be able to bounce ideas off another songwriter/ producer,” she went on to explain. “It’s important to me to be able to work with others like that.” Her experience as a singer and songwriter has opened many doors to other opportunities as well as lessons in this career, which she cherishes. Learning to listen to her intuition and being able to be herself through her music is one thing she has learned on her musical journey. “The biggest lesson I have learned is that you have to be confident, believe in yourself and never give up no matter how hard it may be,” Katter said. “It really shapes how people may view you and your music.” The song that means the most to Katter is “Unbroken” because it is about not getting knocked down by anything or anyone and being able to get up and stand strong. Katter believes releasing positivity through her music will inspire those who are in search of it. The “highlight” of her career has been releasing her first EP as well as being able to share her story through her passion of music to all her fans. She is most thankful for all of the people in her life who have stood by her and supported her career. Although Katter doesn’t currently have a tour planned, she wrote a lot of music this past summer, which fans can expect to hear in the near future. She also will be booking some dates outside of New York for fans outside her hometown. “I’m really excited to show the world what I am made of,” Katter added. “This is only the beginning and I can’t wait to see where this career takes me.” PHOTO: Submitted by Promenade Music Entertainment INTERVIEW & STORY: Abby Welsh HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 19 HOME: Northern CA NOW JAMMING: X’ed Out - EP (Sargent House) CURRENTLY: Touring across North American with Zorch ALTHOUGH TERA MELOS MIGHT NOT be “punk” based on dictionary definition, the band believes that they are infused with the non-conformity punk foundation. Members Nick Reinhart (vocals) and Nathan Latona (guitar) started out playing fast punk as teenagers, but they soon evolved into a whole new sound. “We all very much consider Tera Melos to be a punk band,” Reinhart said. “We got bored of playing fast punk. So we figured out how to play our instruments a little better, kept our guitars in tune (mostly) and started playing the punk beat [in a different time.]” The band is able to accomplish their evolution by never tying themselves down to any sound or genre. They make sure to always challenge themselves musically without placing limits on what they can and cannot do. “We designed the band in such a way that we would always be able to do whatever we wanted,” Reinhart said. “When we first started we all agreed that we would never place limits on ourselves. I remember our old guitar player saying ‘If we want to make a blues record, we’ll make a blues record. If we want a trumpet player, we’ll have a trumpet player.’” The latest product of this mentality is the album X’ed Out, which was released on April 16th of this year. The band experienced many differences when writing and recording this album; one of them was the addition of their newest member, John Clardy on drums. Clardy lives in Texas while the rest of the band lives in California. Because of that, the band has changed the way they write and practice. Their old drummer lived an hour away and they would often end up snowed in their practice space. For Tera Melos, practice was a complicated process in which they would try to play one part and then attempt to work with it. With Clardy the process has changed into something that they like better. Patagonian Rats was the first release that Clardy and the rest wrote together. Now more comfortable with each other and adjusted to the long distance, the band has worked out new ways to write songs. For X’ed Out, members of the band would email each other bits and pieces of songs. “Writing X’ed was a lot more pleasant experience than writing Rats,” Reinhart explained. “It was so much more comfortable doing it that way rather than sitting in a practice spot for five hours playing one riff while everyone tries to sculpt around it.” All of that creative output created what, on first listen, sounds melodic and simple. However, listen closer and you will find tons of complexities. Despite all of the work that they put into it, Reinhart said that he’s not even sure how they accomplished this because it was not a conscious effort. “We’ve been doing this band for so long that a lot of the complex writing is just second nature to us,” Reinhart said. “I don’t even know what one would consider complex and simplistic off of X’ed, the lines were blurred awhile back. I feel like now we’re not just thinking outside of the box, we just are outside the box.” X’ed was also produced by the band’s good friend Patrick Hill. The band is even discussing bringing him out as their first-ever live sound person. “We’ve known him for years,” Reinhart said. “He’s seen us progress from the early practice spot days, to the instrumental band days and to whatever we are now. He’s very much on the same page as us when it comes to sonic crafting and figuring out song puzzles.” Although the band is now one to write on the road that doesn’t mean that the writing process of X’ed has ended. They are meticulously adapting their songs to adhere to their live performances. “Even though our songs get completed and recorded and then pressed to an album, we still evolve them afterword to make them better,” Reinhart said. “Right now we’re just focusing on making our live set sound really good. I wish we could just fart out music at a faster rate but it’s kind of a complicated process getting this stuff to sound the way that we want it to.” With the record now out, the band has been focusing on touring. They recently did a European tour in which they played 59 shows in 60 days. While Reinhart said it was great experience and something they’ll tell their grandchildren, it probably won’t be happening again. “That was our first time in Europe,” he explained. “We threw ourselves into a raging fire and it was great. We definitely want to take our music to wherever the world will allow, that’s been a goal since our first day in the practice spot years ago. But I don’t think we’ll be doing [that kind of tour] on another continent anytime soon.” As he gets older, Reinhart said that it’s still a little scary sleeping in the van and showering in sinks. However, he also said that he’s finding himself gravitating towards those kinds of artists more and more. He said that getting older does change his perception on what art is, but it doesn’t make him any less excited about it. “Yeah we’re 30, but fuck it. It’s something I can embrace and look forward to verses being scared of. It’s like the world of getting older and being rad is something I really want to be a part of,” he said. Despite still being a fairly unknown band, Reinhart believes that they have far surpassed where they imagined music taking them. The band is still blown away when they see people from all over the world coming to their shows, singing along and even knowing what he calls, “all of the weird little idiosyncrasies,” of their songs. However, there are a few fans that they are shocked about and some they hope to win over. “I think that the only thing that’s left is sharing our music with other musicians that have greatly influenced us,” Reinhart expressed. “Henry Rollins has mentioned that he likes our band and we’re very close with Mike Watt. That blows my mind. Watt once told us that being on tour with us reminded him of touring with the flag. If Steve Drozd or Lee Ranaldo or Les Claypool said, ‘hey dudes, you guys are cool,’ I think we could all die pretty happy.” PHOTO: Jordan Fischels INTERVIEW & STORY: Alyssa Schmidt HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 21 HOME: Chicago, IL NOW JAMMING: Free Yourself and Oceans - Singles (Self-Released) CURRENTLY: Playing shows in your favorite Chicago venues TO MANY, CHICAGO IS SEEN as a magical place, home to many of the best and most influential bands in the music industry today, including Fall Out Boy, Rise Against, and Plain White T’s just to name a few. Migrants to the windy city, Mike Jansen (vocals), Markham Jenkins (guitar), Johnny Walker (bass) and Jon Lewchenko (drums), who all make up the alternative rock group, Mighty Fox, are hoping to create their own legacy among the other phenomenal talents that are produced in this booming Midwestern city. They may be newcomers, but they are well on their way to success. As most bands do, they started from the ground up, continuing to slowly progress with each passing project they are involved in. Mighty Fox may only have a couple of songs floating around the Internet, but more music is on it’s way soon. Guitarist, Markham Jenkins, gave Highlight some insight on their two singles, “Free Yourself,” and “Oceans.” “Both [songs] come from a place of struggle with oneself. We all feel alone at times and as if the world is just working against us. When it comes down to it, if you open yourself up to your community of friends and family there is always someone there to lean on when needed.” Music truly is a universal language, and Mighty Fox is all about connecting on an intimate level with audiences whether it is through a live or a recorded performance. “I hope that the lyrics and the music strike a chord with them. That they can relate to the music the way I relate to it. A song is a channel to allow yourself to feel emotion or remember a past experience. Hopefully our music accomplishes that.” For those who have not heard of Mighty Fox before, Jenkins has a very unique way of describing their sound. Disney and movie fanatics alike will appreciate the narrative-like lyrics and how the instruments gradually build between every verse and chorus, radiating a vibrant and high-spirited impression. “Lately I have been describing it as easy cinematic listening. We love film and the connection between the visual and the audio. When I hear our music it makes me think of epic Pixar and Disney movies.” Surprisingly, the members of the band have not yet toured together under their current name, only on their previous projects. This past year has been all about laying down roots and establishing themselves as a group, which has mainly consisted of playing local shows in and around Chicago. “We have been playing locally since February. There have been some great bands we have played with so far, including Makeshift Prodigy and Vinyl Theatre from Milwaukee to name a couple.” When just starting out, bands can often find it discouraging when they play to a larger, more energetic crowd one night, and what seems like a vacant venue the next. However, Mighty Fox does not let this phase them; their performances are always authentic simply because the band is so thankful to be playing in front of a crowd at all. If they gain even one new fan at a show, they are happy with the outcome. “With the Internet so widely used to distribute music to listeners, it’s pretty crazy how a smaller show somewhere we have never been can have great turnouts. Although, big shows in a different city than the one we originate from usually depend on promotion and timing,” said Jenkins. “Any chance to play a show is a great one no matter how small or large. We just want a venue to showcase what we work so hard on.” Musicians experience countless trials and tribulations on the road to achieving their dreams. It is easy to get discouraged when things aren’t taking off as soon as one has hoped. Jenkins shared some valuable advice regarding how important it is to work together as a team to maintain a tight unit and to not lose sight of the ultimate goal. “The most difficult part of our career has probably been learning to be selfless. To put your band mates feelings and thoughts ahead of your own. To be understanding of each other and learning to work together is no easy task. But when it gets tough we know that we are all here for each other and our goals and vision are the same.” Being apart of a band is an exclusive kinship that needs to be healthy in order to function properly, just like any other type of relationship. Communication is the ultimate key to keeping the universe sound. Jenkins, Jansen, Walker and Lewchenko always strive to improve their interpersonal relationships as well as the music. “We overcome struggles by using good communication and staying honest. I believe that it’s just like anything else in life. Never stop working at it because it can always become better,” Jenkins noted. Every accomplishment is a reason to celebrate. It’s the little things in life that matter the most, and Mighty Fox love every second of their musical journey, no matter how big or small each triumph. “I believe we are living our dreams. Achievement is a matter of perspective. When we write and record a great song, it is just as amazing as the feeling of putting on a great show.” Jenkins stressed the gratitude that the foursome has for the fans and anyone who supports them in their endeavors. Often times artists can forget the reason they started playing music in the first place, and Mighty Fox will surely stay humble from beginning to end. “Most people in this world can’t even imagine being able to get together with friends to write music together. Let alone being asked to talk about it for other people to read. We are truly blessed people and we don’t take anything for granted.” PHOTO: Submitted by Mighty Fox INTERVIEW & STORY: Haley Black HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 23 HOME: New York, NY THE ASSEMBLY LINE WITH A NEW EP CALLED THE Places We Leave Behind coming out very soon, we were very excited to sit down with The Assembly Line and talk about the process with them. First thing’s first, we of course had to find out if they were as excited for the release as their fans seem to be. Vocalist and guitarist Thor Nguyen explained how exciting it is to show people that you’ve evolved as an artist, and hopefully they’ll want to continue the journey and bring their friends along for the ride. Drummer Josh Ridley is unbelievably excited as well; for him, two of the biggest highs in life for him are creating and sharing that creation. He explained that “It’s the craziest combination of excitement, nerves, relief and uncertainty, releasing something you’ve spent countless hours and sleepless nights creating. Seeing something through from start to finish, accomplishing your goal and then putting it out there for the world...excited would be an understatement. We’re extremely proud of this new record.” The original plan for the record was to only record three songs: “Tonight (There’s Only Us),” “Photographs,” and “Empires.” Most of the songs have been completed since 2012, before they initially went into the studio. They locked themselves away for a while and knocked the tracks out, but ended up waiting a good amount of time for final mixes and masters after that. Their producer got a great opportunity for work, the holiday season came soon after, and before they knew it, it was 2013. During that downtime, they started writing new music. Two songs out of a handful of new material really stuck out, so they halted the original spring 2013 release. They went back into the studio in April to record two more songs: “Just Kids” and “The Tide,” which were both also recorded in just two to three days. The initial plan of a quick EP release turned into an 11 month process, but they’re very happy with the outcome, and glad that they were able to get two more songs on the EP to really fill it out. Since they chose “Tonight (There’s Only Us)” to release as a single, we wondered what it is about that song that’s special to them. Thor explained that there’s a great message in the song, which he hopes that people can feel and hear. For him personally, it’s about his relationship with his wife and their wedding, and taking that moment in time and sharing with people he cares about. Guitarist Chris Potter notes that the song is hopeful and dance-y. It has a lot of elements that he feels will draw in new listeners and get them hooked, while also being relatable. Bassist Zach Falkow agrees that it’s a song that can really grab people’s attention. The hook is strong and begs for you to sing along with it, and the halftime ending is a real knockout punch that stays with you after the song ends. Lastly, to quote Josh, “Jungle Beats!” (When they got to writing the bridge, Thor asked Josh to try some jungle beats, so he started doing a crazy beat with the toms and kick, that he was actually hesitant about, but it worked out well.) Overall the song is just fun and they all agree that it’s one of their favorites. Like most great musicians, The Assembly Line are inspired by other great musicians, so we delved into the subject of how influences affected their sound as a band. Thor’s a big fan of Death Cab For NOW JAMMING: The Places We Leave Behind - EP (Self-Released) CURRENTLY: Playing their new “Just Kids” lyric video on repeat Cutie and Jimmy Eat World, whose lyrics he finds unique and not cheesy; he hopes to be as good as them someday. Zach likes bands that use lots of simple parts layered on top of each other, making something full and rich sounding. That’s the goal for everything they write – not wanting everything to sound inherently complex. They’ve each been influenced by different genres growing up, bringing different styles to the table, and collectively those styles have created a new direction for The Assembly Line. Soon after the EP release date, the band will be heading out on an east coast tour that starts off in New York City on October 7th at Pianos. It’s been difficult to get out on tour, because like most musicians, the band still has day jobs that they need to keep to pay for the high NYC rent and bills, recording, equipment and all the other band and everyday expenses in between. This is just a small testament to how tough the music industry can be. Breaking out in NYC has been difficult for the band, as the city presents a lot of challenges in terms of logistics. Besides that, the mecca of music that exists in the city makes it difficult to make a name as a band. And as Thor notes, one of the most difficult parts of any musical career, regardless of location, is sifting through all the people you meet along the way and figuring out who really believes in you. Speaking of struggles, how does the band manage to overcome them? First and foremost, the band focuses on staying positive and trusting their gut. Having little things to be able to “hang their hats on” gives them the strength to keep going. When they’ve had placements on MTV, or shows with bands like Yellowcard and Maroon 5, it makes them realize that they’re doing something right. Making music for themselves is important… not to be famous, make tons of cash or to meet girls, but because it feels right. The highlights of their career so far have been dreaming up songs and listening to them come to life; the music they release is art that will live on forever. The friends they’ve made, and presenting their music to first-time listeners, connecting with them through the music. Being able to play with big artists, to sold out crowds, and building those connections between band and listener - those are true highlights. For some musicians, there’s a certain dream or goal that they hope to achieve, feeling that it marks a special moment in time. But for Thor, it would be the simple pleasure of making music – whatever his heart desires and having a comfortable life doing it. And for Chris and Zach, it would also be the day where the band is financially sustainable. Beyond that, Zach’s dream is having an entire room of people singing their songs back louder than the band is singing. When Josh can focus his life on music and make enough money to leave, then he can truly say, “I’m living my dreams.” PHOTO: Sam San Roman INTERVIEW & STORY: Daisy Marietta HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 25 HOME: Philadelphia, PA NOW JAMMING: Spirit Moves - LP CURRENTLY: Working on new music IN A FASHION WELL KNOWN TO bands, guitarist Brandon Bost recalled the story of how Wild Rompit came together when he and Blair Ollendorf (vocalist and guitarist) were randomly paired as roommates their freshman year of college. They were both in the same music industry program and didn’t know anyone else, but they had the same musical interests and they began playing at open mics together. Through their local performances, they met Paul Impellizeri (bassist) who was doing sound at one of those open mics. They had been writing for about three months and just started recording when he came in, so it was the perfect time for him to start laying down some bass. They got a drummer at that point to start recording with, who was later replaced with current drummer, Sean Donaghy. Continuing on the subject of the album, we dug a little deeper, asking Ollendorf to describe what the overall theme of the album is. He explains that the theme is a coming of age, grappling with aspects of adulthood, with their perception of faith, and coping with death. And of course, a whole lot of love songs. He added that Bob Dylan said they’re the best kinds of songs. Beyond that, fans are probably curious to know what they should expect from Spirit Moves that’s different from their past EP’s. Ollendorf explained that “Not only is the production better, but so is the instrumentation, the song writing, the musicianship and they’re all much better players now than before.” They took a lot of time in structuring the songs, so it’s a lot more cohesive. It’s a big step for them, especially since it’s a full length, which means twice as many songs than they’ve ever done - and twice as hard to do. As for the recording process, we discovered that a lot of it started as being “singer/ songwriter based” as Blair puts it, before being taken to the rest of the band. Since they live together, they took a lot of time bouncing ideas off each other before the songs even became an actual song. They had hooks and riffs going around all the time, and even one song started off as a film score. Bost added that when they took all of the written songs into the studio, he recorded and produced the record. Of course, they’re all in it together, shooting ideas back and forth to make the best-finished product. He mentions that a lot of it had to do with the great songs they had to work with, but studio magic also happens. “Nights in the studio from noon until five AM and you’re just thinking of crazy things at two AM when you’re a little sleep deprived, and getting coffee when Starbucks opens back up. It’s a cool process. It’s not set in stone, there’s not one single process we use.” The release of this album is a culmination of a lot of hard work; they raised the money for it themselves and done everything, including producing, recording and finding the money to press CD’s and vinyl. It took that effort to do everything they wanted to do, the way they wanted to do it. They’re excited (as one would expect) to get it out there. So now that Spirit Moves is released, what’s next for Wild Rompit? Well, they have a song coming out on their friend’s subscription label, Feedback Loop. It will be exclusively on there, so if you’re not a subscriber, you won’t hear it for a few months. Beyond that, they’ll be writing and recording as much as possible to keep that momentum going. PHOTO & INTERVIEW: Sam San Roman STORY: Daisy Marietta With a recent album release and upcoming tour, it was only natural that we wanted to know what the band was most looking forward to. Paul joked about being excited about the fame and money, while Blair and Brandon had a different approach. Blair told us they had mostly been looking forward to the CD release show, which they just played with Maitland and Former Belle, two awesome Philly bands. Having had such a long process with the album, they’re very excited for people to hear what they’ve been working on - including the big change in their sound, which was apparent in the first single they released. Brandon had a very heartfelt answer, which was that the reason they do what they do is because they put a lot of heart and soul into what they do. As cliché as that might sound, it makes sense. He got even more specific, explaining, “Going on tour and playing shows, and people reacting and feeling the same things we do when we write gives us a lot of affirmation. It shows us we’re doing the right thing and making something we believe in and that other people can believe in. To be able to share that with random people at a random bar is great.” Since we were on the topic of their album, we had to know who are some of the guys’ major influences and how it’s incorporated into their music. Everything from Black Keys to Bruce Springsteen to Kings of Leon had an influence on building Wild Rompit’s sound. Bost went on to explain that with their older music they just went into it thinking, “Whoa, this is so cool,” and just made music. With their latest record, which also is their first full-length record, they really got in touch with what they like and why they like it. Out of all of their influences, they simply listen to bands and pick out what they like. Bost specified that he likes how the members of Kings of Leon play guitar. “They have a very specific style in terms of tone and parts that they play. I try to base what I play on the guitar a little bit off that. Going into the recording process this time around, we were much more focused in terms of the sounds we wanted, and how we wanted to appeal to the audience,” he explained. HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 27 HOME: Hollywood, CA NOW JAMMING: Inhale - EP (Atlantic Records) CURRENTLY: On tour with twenty on pilots and Robert Delong SCROUNGING FOR CHANGE, booed off of stage and starting a feminist revolution in another country isn’t exactly a kick-start to a successful career. In fact, it’s quite unheard of, but for Grammy winning hip-hop artist, Sirah, those are just some of the memorable moments in which shaped her career into a successful one. Although Sirah is only in her twenties, the female pop princess has already done a lot of living. She began her career about seven years ago and wasn’t easiest a walk in the park start to get where she is today. The difficult experiences throughout her journey in music is not something she is shameful of or tries to hide, but instead she takes those experiences and molds them into valuable life lessons. “I lived in a garage with holes in the ceiling and a car parked next to me,” Sirah explained about the hardships as her career first started. “I got robbed for my merch in Romania, I signed bad contracts, lost friends, got hit on and disrespected and the list goes on and on, but it comes down to perspective.” Sirah said she walked through all of those crazy situations because she didn’t look at them negatively. Instead, she felt like she was simply “crossing them off a list of shit you have to go through in order to survive the music industry.” Because she has learned from her mistakes along the way, she makes sure to avoid certain situations. Shortly after Sirah’s Smile You Have Teeth album released, her manager and co-producer contacted her demanding a whooping $30,000 of her earnings. Releasing Smile quickly turned into a frown after the battle was over, having Sirah to walk away from her L.A. record and back to New York. Even though that situation turned sour, it seemed to be the right move for Sirah and her career. She has been featured in all sorts of songs from one with dubstep act, Skrillex to working with musical artist Young La few years ago. Now when it comes to creating music, she has found it to be a “fine line to walk and possibly the hardest” to not let external sources get in the way of her creativity. “I stay away from people and I now know the game and I think that helps,” Sirah went on to explain. “Everyone tries to recreate someone or something that has already happened and that never works. At the end of the day, I would rather fail on songs that I made and believe in than recreate something that isn’t mine.” Despite her setbacks, Sirah’s journey is far from over. She recently released her new EP, Inhale; which she said she is excited for people to hear it and see how they like it. Much of the EP reflects what was going on in her life while she was writing them, which led to what some would consider darker songs compared to her previous releases. “It’s funny when I was putting it all together I was so confused, listening to the songs on repeat, wondering if they made sense together,” she explained. “That would have to be the difference. All my other releases I was really focused on making them make sense, but with this one I realized I don’t make sense so why would my music.” While this EP will be completely different from what fans have heard from Sirah before, the meaning of Inhale is one she hopes every listener gets. “I think ‘inhale’ is a beautiful word, but more so for me it’s about taking a breath. Breathing in a moment,” Sirah added. Sirah has been working in the music industry for years now and has learned one very important thing about her career choice. “There are around seven billion people on this planet and I am the only me. Embracing yourself wholeheartedly is powerful and it allows others to do the same,” she added. This message is something she wants everyone to get out of her songs as they listen to her album. She chooses to stay true to her roots while in the music industry by avoiding peer pressure because to her there is no point and “allowing people to confuse you for even a second makes it hard to find your way out.” Sirah is thankful for many things that have helped her stay true to herself and where she comes from. One thing she is the most thankful for in her past, that most find a bit shocking, is the fact that she used to sell drugs. “I’m so thankful I used to sell drugs when I was growing up because the music industry is run by some Eskobar type people,” she explained. “If you have survived some real things and always remember that the same people you have seen on the way up are the same people you will see on the way down, you will be able to stay grounded.” Although her journey hasn’t been ideal or normal, every rough patch has reminded her how far she has come as well as how successful and respected she now is in the music world. Sirah is currently out on tour with duo, Icona Pop, where fans will be able to catch some songs off of Inhale. “I’m excited to meet my Internet fans who have been supporting me and in return, roll on their shoes and touch them. It always goes back to that.” PHOTO: Ashley Osborn INTERVIEW & STORY: Abby Welsh HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 29 HOME: Los Angeles, CA NOW JAMMING: Like A Stranger - EP (Elektra Records) CURRENTLY: Prepping for tour with Charli XCX DON’T LET THE INNOCENT, CUTE nature of the name fool you; Kitten should be described as nothing less than fierce. The daughter a former punk rock musician, Chloe Chaidez, acts as the band’s fearless female lead. In her natural habitat, she can be seen soaring from unstable amplifiers, climbing stage ladders, entertainingly harassing security guards and more common than not, doing so barefoot. Lukas Frank (drums), Waylon Rector (guitar), Zach Bilson (bass) and Bryan DeLeon (keys) make up the supporting men who complement her playful, high-energy stage presence. These Los Angeles darlings all create the unique dynamic of 80’s-synth-pop-meets-rock-and-roll that the quintet so impressively embodies. Despite the fact that most of the band is still teenagers (one a Junior in high school), Kitten is not exactly new to the music scene. They may be young, but performing live to large crowds is not their first rodeo. Kitten has already been around the bend; they’ve already added three EPs, performing at South By South West three years in a row, opening for Paramore on their North American tour, and even playing at Riot Fest 2013 in both Chicago and Denver to their impressive resumes. The electropop quintet has seen more action in one year than many up and coming bands can say they have accomplished in their entire career. Being so young and having already toured with such an influential band, particularly one conducted by a fiery frontwoman with a girl-power mentality, has helped the band learn some valuable life lessons about the business and performing, Chaidez in particular. Kitten looked up to Paramore like a big sibling when they experienced their big break opening for them earlier this year. “Three shows before it ended, I was already depressed that it was going to be over. But it was amazing and I just learned a lot. All the members of the band put on a show with so much energy for so many people [which] was inspiring and I think Hayley was definitely a mentor towards me. She was really there for me as far advice and as moving forward [with] music and all of that. I’m definitely her grasshopper in certain ways,” Chaidez reminisced. Experiencing such an incredible opportunity has prepared the group for their fall tour with fellow female powerhouse, Charli XCX. The band is thrilled to embark on their second North American tour, visiting cities where they have gained new fans after the last few months of only playing festival shows here and there. “I’m excited to go to Canada, always. I’m excited to go back to the places we went with Paramore and see those fans that we made on those shows and reunite with those people. That’s going to be really great.” Connecting with fans is one of the band’s main priorities. After all, where and who would they be today without dedicated people supporting them? Whether it is through buying their music, merchandise, or coming out to shows, Kitten cannot express their gratitude for their loyal audience enough. Giving back in a simple way such as through social media, letting fans know that they see their comments, is a convenient way to show them that they are listening and appreciate the positive feedback. “The most important thing is just responding to fans on Facebook and responding to people who are messaging you because that’s really how you’re going to survive, by those people who come out to your shows. And not even those people who necessarily buy your records, no one buys records anymore, but it’s people who come and watch you play. I think I’ve learned the most important thing is to talk to those people and make relationships with them.” Even if Chaidez claims that purchasing records is a dying concept, it certainly doesn’t hinder people from listening to the music. Like A Stranger is the third EP installment from the group, which was released in late August. It encompasses the same style of pulsing synthesizers, tenacious choruses, and jolting guitar riffs that have been featured on their previous releases. Chaidez confirmed that fans could expect the debut of their full-length album around April 2014. “I think it’s really important to just make a good record for yourself that you are completely proud of, just for you. I think once you have something that’s really high quality and that’s phenomenal, the rest will fall into place.” Producing music for the sake of what a label or any other outside influences is completely out of the question. Kitten only creates a final product that they genuinely love and are passionate about. Even if given the opportunity to work with big time producers or legendary artists, Chaidez admits that she would have to speak up if she didn’t like the direction a song was heading in. “You have to be confident with what you’re releasing,” Chaized explained. “If it were successful, you still wouldn’t feel right. You’d feel a little bit dirty about yourself. I’d rather put out something that I love.” Chaidez herself did not grow up on Madonna or synth infused pop music, which begs the question, where did the band’s musical influence come from? Being a typical teenage girl, she wanted to find a way to defy her father’s standards, which was the first person to teach her about a creative outlet in music. She did so through the genres she chose to listen to, which later evolved into her own personal styling. “I got into entirely new wave stuff like The Arrhythmics and Pet Show Boys and all these sort of 80’s pop bands. It was sort of my rebellion from what he raised me on.” Being youthful has yet another benefit for the band. Not only is there a sense of longevity for the band’s career, but also they have an electrifying stage presence that paves the way for lively performances that crowds will surely deem as unforgettable. Like most great performers, the five members have their own rituals which they practice before giving it their all on stage. “The band and I always get together and I pray before every show and now I consider it a joke, but I still say it. We all have our differences and every time I say that, we laugh and give each other a hug and we sort of huddle up, especially for a big show. We sort of love each other for like 10 seconds before we go on stage,” Chaidez described. “As far as individually, I honestly think I go into a spiritual place. I pray before and I sort of just ask that God will bless the show and thank him for everything and then just get up there and do our thing.” Not many teenage musicians can say that they have played alongside some of the best of the best such as legends like The Replacements and Iggy Pop, or Fall Out Boy and Blink-182; possibly bands that have even been around since before they were born, but being put on the Riot Fest bill opened a special door for Kitten. “It’s definitely all an honor and flattering and great, but as far as our performance goes, I think I did the same thing I always do. I went out there and pretended that everyone that was watching was there to see me,” Chaidez admitted. “I think that maybe we were a little more on our game, because you know, Iggy Pop might be watching from side stage, or Flava Flav for all we know, but I don’t think we really changed how we played.” For having so many amazing chances, the five kids from LA still have so much left that they would like to cross off their bucket lists. They may have opened for No Doubt and Garbage, but they are always striving for more. Chaidez stated some dream scenarios that she has her sights set on for the future. “I think I will be living my dreams when I walk into a room and I introduce myself to someone and they ask what I do and I say I’m in a band, and I’m able to explain to them with them knowing the situation because of the band I’m in. And not having to explain what I’ve done and where we are but them just knowing; like, ‘Yes, hi, I’m Bruce Springsteen’ without having to explain myself. And I think probably selling out Madison Square Garden.” Already moving at the speed of light, Kitten is on the fast track to inheriting the title as the next big thing. Chaidez will more than likely one day have her name among the great female rockers who have paved the way for women in the music industry everywhere. Of course she would be nothing without the four young prodigious gentlemen who bring the band’s talent full circle to conceive spine tingling and contagious music that will soon be enjoyed by the masses. PHOTO: Ashley Osborn INTERVIEW: Haley Black & Jenn Stookey STORY: Haley Black HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 31 HOME: Grew up in Edwardsburg, MI now Los Angeles, CA NOW JAMMING: Release You - Single (Collective Sounds) CURRENTLY: Putting together a setlist for their StageIt online concert on October 15th! IT’S THE DREAM OF EVERY LITTLE GIRL singing into a hairbrush in front of her mirror to grow up and become a pop star. From an early age fraternal twin sisters Megan and Liz Mace took steps to make their dream a reality. Today, at 20 years old, they’ve only just begun their journey to pop stardom. 2007, but it wasn’t until the end of 2008 that they made their videos a weekly occurrence. “It was so cool when people actually started wanting more videos. We were like ‘Oh my gosh! They like us, Mom!!’ We were over the moon excited,” the twins remember. “YouTube and all other social media outlets have been amazing for us. We’re so lucky that they were around. If they weren’t we’d probably be nowhere near where we are today!” On September 16th, the sisters finally hit 1 million subscribers on YouTube, a milestone in any YouTuber’s career. In honor of reaching this landmark, Megan and Liz uploaded a special video singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which was the song they sang for one of the first videos they uploaded to their channel almost six years ago. Along with praise from supporters came discouraging comments from critics. In the world we live in, love tends to override hate, and that’s what makes creating art worth it. There will always be people who will criticize anything they can, but their numbers aren’t many. There is one thing critics often forget, though: fans Like every sibling duo in history, Megan and Liz’s love for music began at an early age. Singing came naturally to the two and Megan picked up a guitar at the age of 13. Having a love for music at an early age gave Megan and Liz the drive to chase their dreams. “We have videos of us singing together at like, two. The first original [song] we wrote was when we were 10. I can also specifically remember making Liz practice a dance in our garage for hours on end for a talent show we wanted to do! I’m definitely the one who takes control of things,” recalls Megan. The dynamic duo has been through many ups and downs in their short but promising career. Through everything, they’ve been each other’s support system. Not all sibling duos get along like Megan and Liz, though. They’ve been inseparable since birth. Of course, they may argue now and then, but it’s natural. Their chemistry on and off stage allows them to better write songs and connect with their audience. “People always think we’re just saying this, but we’re honestly best friends. There’s never any sibling rivalry. If anything, we constantly are trying to build each other up. We know one another better than we know ourselves. It’s funny because one of the most common questions we ask ourselves is, ‘How are we going to get married?’ We’re that close!” The sisters decided to share their talents with the world by posting videos of them performing cover songs on YouTube. This specific media outlet has been known to be the perfect start for aspiring singers. Many different artists have gotten their start on YouTube including Justin Bieber, Karmin, and former Highlight cover star, Alex Goot. Megan and Liz posted their first video in 34 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET will defend their favorite band or artist until the very end no matter what. Megan and Liz have been fortunate enough to gain many supportive followers along the way who will stand up for them when critics try to bring them down. Early on in their career, the twins learned how to handle the hateful comments thrown at them. “At first [the comments] used to really bother us. Looking back, we realize that of course they bothered us! We were only 15! Now, being 20, it’s definitely still a bummer to see those negative comments, but we’ve come to realize that being in this industry, you can’t please everyone and not everyone will like you! That’s okay, though. If we all liked the same things, the world would be really boring.” Being from Michigan didn’t necessarily open a lot of doors for the aspiring pop stars. Their hometown of Edwardsburg was small and wasn’t booming with a big music scene, but Megan and Liz didn’t let this stop them from pursuing their dreams. “The main reason we did those covers on YouTube was because it was the only audience we had! Coming from a small town, finding performance opportunities wasn’t easy,” they recall. “We’re huge believers in ‘everything happens for a reason.’ Your path is your path and no one else’s. You have to trust in that!” When it came time for the sisters to go off to college, they had to decide if music was something they were serious about pursuing or if it was just a hobby. It’s obvious the path they chose because they’ve consistently been creating music and climbing the ladder of success since graduating high school. Now, with more time to concentrate on music instead of algebra homework, Megan and Liz set their minds to getting their goals accomplished. “If you want to build a career, it takes time. We’re really happy we started when we did because it’s such a process. We would say that that’s an advantage, for sure. It can be tough being young in this business though, just because you are still learning about yourself and what makes you happy.” If there is one thing Megan and Liz have done, it’s stayed true to themselves and their music. Since they first began posting videos on YouTube the sisters have stayed grounded and never taken any of their opportunities for granted. Last year, they were nominated for and won the Macy’s iHeart Radio Rising Star contest. The perks of winning this contest included playing the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, a television commercial featuring one of their songs, and performing during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “That experience was unreal. It helped us so much in our career. Because of that contest, we had a national TV commercial, our first Top 40 song at radio, and the chance to say ‘Oh, we’ve opened for Bon Jovi!’ Like, how cool is that?” Though the duo have been releasing original songs for a few years now, they are still staying true to their roots and frequently posting cover songs on their YouTube channel. “We’ve always wanted to write our own music! We began writing when we were 10, and have written ever since then. Covering other artists’ songs is fun, but nothing beats the feeling of writing a song you’re so proud of and being able to share that with everyone.“ Megan and Liz got their first taste of fame when their single, “Bad For Me” hit the U.S. airwaves. The song, co-written and produced by Boys Like Girls front man Martin Johnson, charted the iTunes Top 100. The sassy, pop song was their first radio hit and allowed the duo to get their name out to the masses. It was the perfect entrance for the girls, completely entailing everything they are as potential pop princesses. “We literally cried the first time we heard one of our songs on the radio. It’s just like all that hard work you and everyone around you put into making that song and everything surrounding it is finally paying off. To this day, hearing our songs on the radio is so surreal. Again, we’re very lucky girls.” The success of “Bad For Me” led them to be listed at #14 on Billboard’s 21 Under 21, a list of young up-and-coming artists. In November of 2012, Megan and Liz released an EP named after their first mainstream single, “Bad For Me.” The EP topped the iTunes Pop Albums chart at #7. It features the title track, as well as six other original songs written by the pair. In June 2013, their next chart topping single, “Release You,” was released. The powerful pop song resounds with attitude and girl power, showing off the vocal range of both Mace sisters. The song made it to #34 on the Billboard Pop Songs chart. This past spring Megan and Liz teamed up with Macy’s and American Rag to embark across the country on Macy’s Great American Road Trip. During this time, the duo stopped in famous musical cities like Austin, Nashville, and New York City to explore, play shows, and document their trip through video. The videos from each city were then uploaded forming a mini web series. Along with being asked to partake in the road trip, Megan and Liz headlined their first tour this fall called “American Rag On Tour Presents: Megan and Liz.” The tour hit 26 cities across the United States starting in Minneapolis, MN and ending in Vancouver, BC. Not only are they getting to tour the country playing shows, but they also get to do it while traveling in style in a bus displaying their painted faces on the side! “Touring is [and] always will be our favorite part of this business. Performing live is unlike any other feeling. The fact that the bus has our faces on it is still like really? That’s us?” With this being their first headlining tour, Megan and Liz wanted to make a good impression on new fans while still pleasing the ones who had supported them from the beginning. “When we made the setlist we wanted to make it 99% original material, and we were nervous! We made a name for ourselves doing covers, but also originals in the mix. We’re so lucky that our fans paid attention to the originals just as much as the covers. They’re honestly the greatest,” say the pair. “To have the audience go from virtual to tangible is the best feeling!” The pair has posted several music videos featuring their new songs “In The Shadows Tonight” and an acoustic version of “Karma’s Coming Back For Me.” These songs are from their debut album, Look What You Started. The release date for the album has yet to be determined, but is expected soon. “We have been working on this [album] for years, literally. Right now, it’s just a matter of picking the final tracks and waiting for the golden opportunity to release it! It’s tough waiting, but we want the album to do the best it possibly can!” Megan and Liz have had a close and personal relationship with their fans from the very beginning, frequently taking to social media to interact with them. Because of their honest relationship with their fans, they’ve been able to create more of a family than a fan base. The duo is forever grateful to their fans for all they have done for them over the years and all they will continue to do in the years to come. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for being so patient and supportive of us! You guys will never know how much it means to us to be having a bad day, then being able to talk to you guys and have it all go away. You guys are honestly the best and we’re so lucky to have you.” Their finely tuned harmonies and honest lyrics combine to form pop music in its purest form. The upbeat songs are catchy and danceable while the slow songs are tender and tug at the heartstrings. There’s no doubt that their new album will explode and take the duo’s career to the next level. They’re this generation’s Aly & AJ, but on a much bigger scale. Their do-it-yourself mentality has been driving their career forward since the beginning. We expect to see their name everywhere in the next year. PHOTOS: Cara Bahniuk INTERVIEW: Ashley Osborn STORY: Jessica Klinner 38 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 39 REPORT CARD FESTIVAL: Riot Fest & Carnival LOCATION: Chicago, IL WHEN: September 13-15, 2013 PHOTOS: Ashley Osborn REVIEW: Anjel Lopez Food The food choices at Riot Fest included local favorites, as well as your typical carnival food. Normally, I’d be disappointed by there being carnival food, but since the festival was a carnival, I’ll let it slide. My favorite of the weekend were the cheese fries and vegetarian hot dogs from Chubby Wieners. Great name, and great food. They also had a Funnel Cake World stand that offered funnel cakes topped with hot fudge, vanilla ice cream, and Oreos. Need I say more? Grade Music The lineup for Riot Fest Chicago couldn’t have been more perfect this year. There was a little bit of everything: classics like Rancid and The Replacements, The sound was a little off at some of the stages housing larger acts and crowds, but aside from that, there was something for everyone within each sub-rock genre on the show agenda each day. Grade A Weather On Friday and Saturday of Riot Fest, the weather stayed sunny and breezy, which made for a perfect atmosphere. Attendees were having little picnics on the grass and enjoying the music from afar, and it didn’t look like the festival staff had to worry about too many people passing out due to overheating. On Sunday, the weather turned into a steady flow of cold rain and clouds. None of the shows were affected by the weather, which was amazing, but by the end of the day I saw a lot of miserable and cold people leaving the fest early because they couldn’t handle it anymore. Grade A+ B Sustainability Riot Fest wasn’t too focused on sustainability this year. There were free water refill stations, but aside from that, everything else was your standard use & toss idea. I did see a few Boxed Waters floating around, but no green standards were thoroughly promoted. Most people were focused on chugging beer and crowd surfing. Grade Fans The fans attending Riot Fest was extremely broad. I saw toddlers roaming around with their parents, teens running around the AP tent waiting for The Wonder Years to sign, and 50-year-old parents hanging around to see Blondie & Joan Jett. Everyone seemed really excited just to be at the festival, no matter who they were there to see. Things were very crowded, but for the most part, pretty tame in comparison to larger festivals like Lollapalooza. Grade DA A Overall Riot Fest Chicago ended up being an amazing way to close out the summer festival season. Besides a spout of bad weather on Sunday and a few sound problems, I don’t think the festival could have done any better. Carnival rides, five stages, local and carnival food choices, as well as John Stamos made of butter. What gets better than that? Grade 40 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET GLASSJAW ATMOSPHERE BAD RELIGION MEMPHIS MAY FIRE BLINK 182 HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 49 BLINK 182 GLASSJAW ATMOSPHERE FALL OUT BOY THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 49 FALL OUT BOY JOAN JETT MEMPHIS MAY FIRE BLINK 182 FALL OUT BOY THE VIRGIN MOBILE FREEFEST is a yearly outdoor music festival held right outside Washington, DC at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The festival was announced in June 2006 and was held in Baltimore for the first three years. The festival moved to Merriweather in 2009 and has been a free event ever since. Every year, the tickets become “freed out” in minutes and 50,000 people storm the grounds for a day of fun. Spinning across 40 acres and three stages, the lineup featured Vampire Weekend, The Avett Brothers, Pretty Lights, Robin Thicke, MGMT, Kaskade, City and Colour, Icona Pop, CHVRCHES, The Knocks, Black Joe Lewis, Sky Ferreira, Little Green Cars, Madeon, Gareth Emery, Washed Out, Manufactured Superstars, Conogorock, TJR and Ghost Beach. Needless to say, Virgin brings in artists that fit across multiple genres so everyone can enjoy. Although the weather didn’t hold out, opening the sky and dropping buckets of water for hours, no on let them stop their day. Fest fans broke through the $1 million donation benchmark which addresses the needs of homeless youth. Icona Pop guest bartended at the RE*Generation bar, fans took rides on the ferris wheel and others purchased reusable water bottles – all of which contributed to the charity. Previous FreeFests raised enough money to build the RE*Generation House, a transitional living facility for homeless youth in Washington, DC which opened this year. The funds raised this year will go toward operating the house for two years. PHOTOS: Provided by Virgin Mobile REVIEW: Cara Bahniuk MADEON ROBIN THICKE WASHED OUT KASKADE HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 49 MGMT VAMPIRE WEEKEND SKY FERREIRA CHVRCHES THE AVETT BROTHERS PHOT O: As sborn hley O reviews artist: Mayday Parade album: Monsters In The Closet rating: Sounds like: Go Radio All Time Low You Me At Six album Recommended tracks: “Ghosts” “Even Robots Need Blankets” “Angels” Tracks: 1 2 3 4 5 Ghosts Girls Last Night For A Table For Two 12 Through 15 The Torment of Existence Weighed Mayday Parade fans, rejoice! After a long two-year wait, Mayday Parade’s highly anticipated album Monsters In The Closet has finally arrived! The new album is a bit predictable, but in a distinct “Mayday Parade” kind of way. Monsters In The Closet is the perfect mix of emotions and upbeat “pop-punk” similar to their past works. But, Monsters In The Closet is extremely colorful and playful in comparison to their previous albums. For example, the leading track, “Ghosts” opens the album with intricate harmonies that slowly build and lead into an energetic guitar filled symphony of sound. In addition, the lyrics are a pure gold. My favorite line of the album is, “There’s a ghost in my bedroom, it haunts me at night… I don’t know what to do. Metaphorically, this ghost is you.” It is pure cheesy goodness. As a sucker for Mayday Parade’s tear jerking and heart wrenching piano ballads, I was a bit disappointed. The closest thing to their signature ballads is “Even Robots Needs Blankets.” It is sweet, tender and definitely a new favorite, but the song lacks a gloomy yet inspirational impact similar to “Terrible Things” off the 2011 release Valdosta. The last track “Angels” is the homage Mayday Parade’s signature dual vocals and a strong end to the album, but it would have been even stronger with a female vocalist. The song oscillates and intertwines back and forth between the two vocal parts, which would have been a romantic “dance” with a female vocalist. It also would have drawn more attention to the fantastic lyrics and added depth to the song. Overall, the album does not disappoint and is extremely enjoyable to listen to. Even though the album was a bit more lighthearted than I had expected, Mayday Parade never ceases to tell a story with each song. I would definitely recommend the album to all Mayday Parade fans! REVIEW: Theresa Pham Against The Horror of Nonbeing 6 7 8 9 Even Robots Need Blankets Repent And Repeat Demons Sorry, Not Sorry Nothing You Can Live Without. Hold Onto Me Angels 10 Nothing You Can Do About 11 12 Release date: October 8th, 2013 website: www.maydayparade.com 48 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET Artist: Echosmith Album: Talking Dreams After hearing Los Angeles band, Echosmith, for the first time on this summer’s Vans Warped Tour, I was stunned when I discovered how young these siblings were because their talent is beyond their years. Signed to Warner Brothers Records, Echosmith has been making waves with their up-beat and high energy indie music. Now they’re bringing more of it to fans, making new ones and making even bigger waves with their brand new, debut album, Talking Dreams. If you’re a fan of rock, pop, or indie music, this is your album. The album opens with the energetic “Come Together,” a perfect song to set the tone for the entire album, and one bound to make you want to dance. Soon after comes my personal favorite, a catchy and relatable single about wanting to fit in, called “Cool Kids.” Later in the album comes the slower, but equally enjoyable, “Bright,” along with the charismatic title track, ‘Talking Dreams.” Helping to bring the album to an end is the fast-paced and hopeful song, “The Safest Place,” followed by the slow closer, “Surround You.” Echosmith front woman, Sydney Sierota, more than pulls her weight, as a vocalist of only 16 and the only female in the band. Sydney’s charming yet powerful vocals, combined with Graham’s pulsing drum beats, Noah’s driving bass, and Jamie’s rhythmic guitar, really give this album an lively and spirited, indie-pop edge that will catch your attention and keep you hooked. recommended tracks: “Let’s Love,” “Bright” & “The Safest Place” review: Rebecca Del Castillo Artist: Panic! at the Disco Album: Too Weird To Live, To Rare To Die Panic! at the Disco certainly has been through some crazy ups and downs over the years; they have overcame everything from line-up changes to addiction. Despite all of the drama, the band has continued to put out musically intriguing and diverse albums that keep their fans wanting more and the band’s latest release Too Weird to Live, To Rare to Die is no exception. We could argue all day about whether Panic’s latest set of songs sound too much like Fall Out Boy’s Save Rock and Roll, but I’d rather discuss something less stale and rehashed – the fact that these songs are good… really good. The album jumps into a fast-paced and fist-pumping start with singles “This is Gospel” and “Miss Jackson.” During the last half of the album it take a more mellow twist, starting off with the mysterious track “Affair” and ending with the sweet and haunting “The End of All Things.” This is by far Panic’s most electronic album, but it does still manage to mix in a good range of instrumentation with strings, guitar, piano, etc. The album is musically diverse enough to keep things interesting. My only complaint? Brendon Urie is far too talented of a vocalist to need all of those vocal processors. recommended tracks: “Nicotine” & “Collar Full” review: Annette Schaffer Artist: State Champs Album: The Finer Things State Champs have been an up and coming pop-punk band for some time now. They spent the summer on Vans Warped Tour along with many heavy hitters in the pop-punk scene such as The Story So Far, whom State Champs have been compared to on various occasions. This claim reigns true with The Finer Things where the vocal styling and lyrics of Derek Discanio’s angst-ridden songs lend themselves to singing that borders more on yelling as his voice turns raspy as he gets angrier. It’s a perfect fit for The Finer Things, an album jam packed with 11 songs to scream along to as you get over your past relationship. Armed with catchy guitar hooks and powerful lyrics, “Elevated” is the song that you will find yourself humming as you head off to class or work. From there on The Finer Things doesn’t let up, it forces you to keep your feet moving as you listen to “Head To Please” a song with guitar riffs that are impossible to resist jumping along with. Then you will finally reach “Easy Enough,” an emotionally draining song that lets you into the pain and strife felt by Derek. As a whole The Finer Things is a pop-punk album for both fans of more pop-driven bands like All Time Low and more punk-driven bands. The tracks have catchy choruses that make you jump along as if you were back in 2000 listening to Simple Plan. The Finer Things is a pop-punk album that managed to blend both “pop” and “punk” rather beautifully, giving State Champs an album they should truly be proud of lyrically and instrumentally. They have let us know that they will be ‘more than just a memory’ with this release. recommended tracks: “Easy Enough,” “Elevated” and “Nothing’s Wrong” review: Trevor Figge