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ISSUE #9 | OCTOBER 2016

Young Guns The Strumbellas, CAMM, and more ISSUE 9, OCTOBER 2016 | 1


Table of Contents Staff Editor & Founder Acacia Evans Design Andi Rogers Photographer Acacia Evans Writers Hayley Augustus Lexy Fields Kaitlyn Midgett Social Media & More Website: bigcitythoughts.com Insta: @bctpress

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interview with alexander

Twitter: @bctpress Facebook: facebook.com/bigcitythoughts Email: acacia@bigcitythoughts.com

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featured: interview with young guns

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interview with camm


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live photos: fifth harmony

live photos: pierce the veil

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live photos: kip moore

04 - alexander 10 - the amity affliction 12 - the strumbellas 14 - young guns 18 - camm 22 - live photos: fifth harmony 24 - live photos: pierce the veil 26 - live photos: andy grammer 27 - live photos: gavin degraw 28 - live photos: kip moore

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words by lexy fields + photos by acacia evans

Breaking his way into the rapidly growing Nashville pop scene, Alexander captured our hearts after watching him perform at his EP release show on August 31st. This self-taught musician wowed us with his catchy hits such as “Can’t Sleep Without You” and “Need You To Know.” Each song on his recently released self-titled EP embraces a little bit of everything – pop, rock, R&B and punk.

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Alexander grew up as a Sacramento skater kid. He didn’t actually pick up an instrument until he was forced to take piano lessons as a teenager. As he grew to love the power and soulfulness behind music, Alexander began to write songs and teach himself guitar. He realized that he wanted to be a rock star with the likes of Freddie Mercury, New Found Glory, and Blink 182. “I just love the voices behind classic rock and pop punk. You don’t really know if you love or hate the artist, but it’s so raw and catchy that you can’t help but be intrigued,” said Alexander. We caught up with Alexander after the show where he was gushing over the experience. “It was really awesome. It was so cool to have this little venue packed out with my friends and fans. We got to experience the first live playing of our songs. After practicing in a small room, it’s just a completely different atmosphere. I couldn’t have asked for a better first show,” said Alexander. BIG CITY THOUGHTS | 6


The energy that Alexander possessed on stage was unmatched while he was revving the crowd up with enthusiastic vocals. Though his songs now resemble artists such as MAX and Nick Jonas, Alexander admits that when he first moved to Nashville he had no clue on where to start his musical journey. “I had my feet in different camps all over the place. This EP is an interpretation of my journey ISSUE 9, OCTOBER 2016 | 7


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here, especially in the last song where I talk about a co-write that went terribly. It’s about good experiences and bad ones. In the end, it’s all to help the people that are going to listen to my EP – to engage with my fans and relate to the things that I’ve gone through. Writing songs that are relatable is my number one goal when it comes to my music,” said Alexander. Alexander has already made moves in the Nashville music scene and he’s sure to climb to the top of the charts.

“...It’s about good experiences and bad ones. In the end, it’s all to help the people that are going to listen to my EP...”

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blurb by hayley augustus The Amity Affliction is an Australian rock band that played a major role in the creation of the newest wave of post-hardcore music back in 2003. They are best known for their profound and emotional lyrics, discussing topics from depression and suicide to anxiety and panic disorder. Fans not only turn to listening to The Amity Affliction’s music to know that they aren’t alone, but also to learn how to cope with these issues. TAA stresses the importance of letting people know that there is always hope and always a solution. We got the chance to talk to bass player and clean vocalist Ahren Stringer after their set at Louder Than Life music festival in Louisville, KY, to dig deeper into why they do what they do.

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Stringer admitted that the band didn’t originally start writing music to change lives, but more to let out and express their own personal inner demons. After experiencing a countless number of fan confessions regarding mental illness and suicide stories, Stringer realized that they had a bigger purpose. “I guess I never thought it would happen like that. It was just kind of a happy accident,” said Stringer. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741 Visit www.suicide.org for International Lifelines


After experiencing a countless number of fan confessions regarding mental illness and suicide stories, Stringer realized that they had a bigger purpose.

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Music and How They’ve Changed Throughout the Years interview by kaitlyn midgett

The Strumbellas have gained more and more popularity recently with the release of their song “Spirits” off their latest album Hope. We were able to chat with The Strumbellas at Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, TN, that took place at the end of September. The creation of Hope was a big stepping stone in the band’s career. The Strumbellas’ lead vocalist Simon Ward said that the album basically

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mimics their lives. It represents the highs and lows that everyone experiences, especially himself. It shows that life has a dark side, but light will always come through in the end. “I have a theory that comes up every once in a while where I think Simon writes the songs, alone, by himself in his room. But then we develop them together. We’re all friends and we enjoy hanging out, despite what


we might think sometimes. So I think there’s the darkness of poor Simon alone in a dark room, and then there’s the joy of us all being together and playing music,” explains keyboardist and vocalist David Ritter.

smaller and intimate than that of the United States. “You can really get to know everyone who plays the same genre of music. Canada’s small, so the music scene is very versatile,” said violinist and vocalist Izzy Ritchie.

Even though the band picks the best songs for the record, it’s a constantly changing process. Sometimes they’ll even add a new song after the record is already completed and take one of the other tracks away. “It’s all very sporadic and unplanned. It’s kind of just a mishmash of songs and thoughts. It’s pretty much life. It’s crazy stuff,” said Ward.

The band will continue to tour until December and then take a break during the winter months. After that, they’ll head to Australia for the first time. The difference between festivals and club shows varies depending the circumstance for The Strumbellas. The close-knit band responded that if they are playing a lot of festivals, a club show is a nice change of pace. They love many things about both types of show venues, but it depends on what they have been doing and how they feel. 

Even though The Strumbellas are still on the rise in the United States, they already have a Juno Award under their belts for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year. “I can proudly say I gave mine to my mom,” said lead guitarist Jon Hembrey.  We also got some insight into the world of the Canadian music scene in comparison to the American scene. The Canadian music scene is much

The Strumbellas left us with a message to their fans saying, “Thanks for the support and all the awesome messages we get in person and over social media. It’s always fun for us to read and talk to fans about music. Keep on truckin’.”

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words by hayley augustus & lexy fields + photos by acacia evans

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nglish rock band Young Guns have been progressively picking up prominence in the United States after gaining wild popularity among rock fans in the UK after their formation in 2008. We were able to talk with vocalist Gustav Wood and rhythm guitarist John Taylor at Louder Than Life Festival in Louisville, Kentucky to discuss their rise to fame and the release of their new album, Echoes. Young Guns began to make a name for themselves in the UK seven years ago with the release of their 2009 debut EP Mirrors. From opening up for some of the most legendary rockers in the world, such as Bon Jovi and Guns N’ Roses, to getting nominated for a Kerrang! Award in the same year, it was evident that this was just the beginning for the band. With four albums and almost a decade’s worth of writing experience under their belts, it’s evident that major changes happen throughout the years with the way their music comes together. “We just threw shit at the wall and it worked out. The press was good and that started the ball rolling. Now we’ve been writing music for seven years, we’re a little more educated about it. We know what works, we know what doesn’t.

We’re still learning. I think that was a really innocent, simple time,” said Wood. It can be hard sometimes to be original during the writing and developing process when there are so many other bands trying to do the same thing. A lot of the time, “original” comes from putting a twist on your genre and tweaking some of your music to fit that specific niche. When it comes to Young Guns, they don’t consider themselves anything more than just straight up rock.

“We just threw shit at the wall and it worked out...Now we’ve been writing music for seven years, we’re a little more educated about it. We know what works, we know what doesn’t...”

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British rock in specific has been a steady market rising for the past decade, gaining much interest in the United States as well as the rest of the world. During a musical drought of primarily only emo and scenebased music, Young Guns’ fresh rock sound made waves for themselves and other rock bands trying to break through. “We were in the right place at the right time,” said guitarist John Taylor.

During a musical drought of primarily only emo and scene-based music, Young Guns’ fresh rock sound made waves for themselves and other rock bands trying to break through.

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Young Guns finds success in being raw, honest, and vulnerable, which is apparent through their latest album Echoes. Echoes was mainly influenced by direct personal experiences each of the members had been experiencing at that time. From parting ways with their original drummer to breakups and major life transitions, they were in a state of flux - where the only way they could get out was by going through. “The new album is basically about facing up to the idea that not all things last in life. The biggest temptation is to try to cling on to things when they’re done, but you have to be an adult and put things to bed so that you can move on and move forward,” said Wood.


What comes along with making an album so pure is that studio time is close to effortless. The band was able to get Echoes recorded so quickly that they spent their extra time finessing it, making sure that everything was just how they wanted it. When it comes to touring, Wood and Taylor agreed that their dream tour package to be a part of would consist of bands they grew up listening to. Taylor would love to tour with Blink-182 to bring back their Enema of the State album while Wood’s top pick is Metallica. Young Guns’ years of hard work and dedication have given them nothing but a positive light and reputation in the music industry. No matter their level of success, they are continuously building themselves and the other musicians around them up. As Wood puts it, “I think what’s really important is that you’re always trying to push yourself to be a better musician and a better songwriter than you were yesterday.” Their integrity and sincerity is what will keep bringing them more and more opportunities are they become a household name across the world.

“I think what’s really important is that you’re always trying to push yourself to be a better musician and a better songwriter than you were yesterday.”

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words by lexy fields + photos by acacia evans

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ith his soulful Memphis background and righteous words, CAMM is a new age rapper that intends to bring back love for classic rap and “the greats.” Growing up as the son of a pastor, CAMM discovered a heavy influence of music in his young life. CAMM’s passion for beat making didn’t come around until late into his middle school days. “My older brother downloaded this beat making app and kind of introduced me to that whole thing. After my homeroom class, my teacher would let me play my beats out loud and get honest feedback from my peers,” said CAMM. He never intended to rap as he was always more fascinated by the production side of the industry. Yet, inspired by his friends his sophomore year of high school, CAMM released a mix tape – recorded on a Skype microphone. After gaining a small amount of money from selling copies at school, he was able to purchase a real microphone and some accompanying equipment. “It’s all about moving forward,” he said.

His flourishing passion moved him to Nashville to attend Belmont University where CAMM says to have met some of the most musically influential people in his life. “It was my freshman suitemate who really drove me to better myself and my rapping. I hadn’t realized that Memphis rap was so different from the main street rap or what “the greats” did. I wasn’t paying attention to the technicalities of the genre. He taught me the rules that I needed to know and pushed me to write to everything and anything,” said CAMM. Trying to kick off his Nashville career, CAMM released another mix tape his freshman year and started doing small shows on Belmont’s campus. After losing the Urban Pop Showcase his sophomore year, he doubled down and spent every single free second on his music. Re-entering the showcase his junior year, CAMM was able to win over the crowd and move on to the Best of the Best showcase.

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When asked who inspires him the most in his rapping, CAMM pays homage to The Notorious B.I.G. who “still has a flow that no one can match – no matter how hard they try” as well as Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, and various Memphis rappers. On his latest (and currently unreleased) project, he had finished it all and was demo-ing it to his friend who said it sounded cheap. “I was in shock, but then I realized that he was right. It was just me on top of tracks.

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So we went in and added my band, funking it up a little bit and making it more personable. It’s been over a year in the making, but it’s perfect now and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”


His new project, aptly named Higher Learning, reflects CAMM’s time at college. It’s a conscious album that is centered around all of the lessons he learned outside the classroom. It represents him

opening himself up to new ideals and the culture around him. The release date of Higher Learning is currently a secret, but brings great anticipation.

“It was my freshman suitemate who really drove me to better myself and my rapping... I wasn’t paying attention to the technicalities of the genre... He taught me the rules that I needed to know...” ISSUE 9, OCTOBER 2016 | 21


Fifth

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Harmony

PHOTOS BY ACACIA EVANS

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Pierce the

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Veil

PHOTOS BY ACACIA EVANS

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ANDY GRAMMER

PHOTOS BY ACACIA EVANS

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GAVIN DEGRAW

PHOTOS BY ACACIA EVANS

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KIP MOORE BIG CITY THOUGHTS | 28


PHOTOS BY ACACIA EVANS

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Big City Thoughts - Issue #9  

Big City Thoughts Fall 2016 edition featuring Young Guns, Alexander, CAMM, The Strumbellas, and more.

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