JOCELYN // THIS CENTURY // RELIENT K // COVER DRIVE // ANDREW MCMAHON & MORE
co-founder – editor-in-chief – photography ashley osborn co-founder – art director – photography cara bahniuk managing editor jenn stookey content director anjel lopez copy editor courtney dondelinger co-founder mckenzie hughes contributing photographers dan deslover, courtney dondelinger, tarina doolittle, jordan fischels, nicole mago, charlie martel, heather phillips, petey place, danny raybon, sam roenfeldt, sam san roman, daniel shippey, jared thomas and amy willard contributing writers (online & publication) ryan argast, haley black, jennifer boylen, colleen casey, trevor figge, perry fish, tamara fuentes, briana henry, will howard, logan kant, jessica klinner, matthew leimkuehler, taylor pittman, claire pope, allison reames annette schafer and morgan waldorf _________________________ www.highlightmagazine.net contact us firstname.lastname@example.org facebook facebook.com/highlightmagazine twitter @highlightzine instagram @highlightzine _________________________ thank you new politics, rca records, crush management, 42 west, merge pr, secret service pr, the catalyst publicity group, josh weidling, daniel sumstine, cover drive, stunt company, big picture media, monolith pr, david blaise, josh gruss, atlantic records, mso pr and fresh clean media. not to mention our incredible supporters and all of the bands and their incredible teams! we love you guys. _________________________ 06 new politics ashley osborn
07 cover drive tarina doolittle
machines are people too ashley osborn
o’brother ashley osborn
relient k jered scott
andrew mcmahon ariel kassulke
a great big pile of leaves anjel lopez
this century heather phillips
05 this or that 08 clothing highlight 09 film highlight 10 label highlight 11 venue highlight 12 industry highlight 14 lollapalooza 18 warped tour 20 my jerusalem 22 machines are people too 26 oâ€™brother 30 jocelyn 32 a great big pile of leaves 36 hello highway 40 this century 44 relient k 48 cover drive 52 andrew mcmahon 56 new politics 66 taste of chicago 68 reviews
THE WONDER YEARS
38% SMOKE BOMBS
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NEW POLITICS - 56
MACHINES ARE PEOPLE TOO - 22
RELIENT K - 44
A GREAT BIG PILE OF LEAVES - 32
48 - COVER DRIVE
26 - O’BROTHER
52 - ANDREW MCMAHON
40 - THIS CENTURY
CATCH ONTO THESE TRENDS COMPANY: Make Believe OWNER/DESIGNER: David Blaise WEBSITE: www.makebelieveclothing.com
Brandon Herbel (the other half of Make Believe) and I were introduced by Fueled By Ramen’s merchandise manager a few years back. At the time, I was playing for a band on the label and Brandon had done multiple design projects for them. After talking for a bit, we found out we both shared a common interest in apparel and graphic design and began sharing our work over email. It quickly turned into the conversation of “We design for clothing brands and bands, why don’t we do our own thing?” About a week later, we came up with the concept and made our first shirt.
WHAT ARE YOUR THREE FAVORITE DESIGNS?
1)Geronimo Tank Top: This shirt is definitely in my top 3. It stands on its own but can also be layered without being a distraction. My favorite moment was seeing Kristen Stewart 8 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
wear it on Jay Leno. At the time I believe the company was only around for 8 months. It was pretty nuts! 2) MBCO: I just love this design. We had the privilege of having our friend Danny Jones (YASLY) work on that design. I love the way it turned out! 3) The End: This sign was outside of my first apt in Los Angeles. It was a nice nostalgic piece to add to the summer line.
WHY PEOPLE SHOULD CHECK OUT YOUR BRAND?
This brand was designed to have shirts that can stand on their own but also look great layered with a blazer, jacket or flannel. If you are looking to add subtle graphics to your wardrobe, Make Believe is the company for you.
R E M M U S E H T F O P O T FILMS ONBEST HORROR BEST ACTI ST BE Y ED M CO ST BE
RATING: R STARRING: Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco and Jay Baruchel This comedy tells the story of six friends trapped in a house after the apocalypse begins, beaming all the deserving people to heaven, leaving the cast to fight off demons in Los Angeles. Eventually they are forced to leave the safety of their home, testing not only their friendship but also who they are as people. There are so many qualities to this film that make it unlike anything else that has released recently. First off it’s clever and sharp in its presentation without overlooking any opportunity for a dirty cheap bite. There’s enough weed and sex jokes going around but the best feature of This Is the End is that the actors do not play characters, but instead present exaggerated reflections of their own personalities. The whole film feels like a series of inside jokes that director Seth Rogen lets the audience in on for a good laugh. This is The End can be summed up as Pineapple Express meets Shaun of the Dead, a snapshot of what Rogen is capable of when making his own rules. This is The End manages to be vulgar, immature and incredibly self indulgent but only in the best way imaginable. THIS IS THE END: ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK To sum up this soundtrack; it’s the perfect balance of weird party tracks and classic throwback songs. Switching between a mix of funky hip-hop like Cypress Hill and Snoop Dogg, to the pop infused Backstreet Boys, this album has something for everyone. It’s definitely an awesome soundtrack to play when you’re just having a good time with friends.
RATING: PG13 STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce and Don Cheadle Picking up shortly after the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark battles inner demons as his dedication to his work begin to threaten his relationship with Pepper Potts as well as his mental health. Answering to the threats of the cryptic Mandarin, Tony Stark must use his superior intellect and cunning ingenuity to seek revenge. Surpassing the second Iron Man film grossing over $1 billion worldwide, this third chapter of Iron Man really was the best action film of the summer. IRON MAN 3 “HEROES FALL” SOUNDTRACK This soundtrack is not what you would expect for an actionthriller like Iron Man featuring artists like Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, Capital Cities and 30H!3. Ironically though, this odd mash-up of indie music and a mainstream action film works seamlessly. The best element of this soundtrack is that it perfectly emulates Tony Stark’s egotistical persona, which of course is the best part of every Iron Man film.
REVIEW: Rachel Carter
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YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO...
American based record label, Downtown Records, is all about keeping good company. Since its establishment in 2006, Downtown Records has shared their passion for contemporary music by branching off and partnering with several other labels, including Mercer Street Records, Mad Decent and Fool’s Gold Records. Originally operating under Downtown Music LLC, Downtown Records is now distributed by three other companies, Universal Music, Atlantic Records and Alternative Distribution Alliance. The co-founders behind Downtown are CEO Josh Deutsch, Co-Chairman Terence Lam and John Josephson. Just this past month, three new team members were brought on board to focus solely on sync licensing, to support the growth of Downtown’s current roster of over 24 artists.
COLD WAR KIDS -
Originally based out of California, Cold War Kids possess an upbeat, indie rock sound comparable to Vampire Weekend. Their first EP, Mulberry Street was released under Monarchy Record in 2005. Cold War Kids released two more records under that label before signing with Downtown Records in 2006 for the release of Robbers & Cowards. Earlier this year, they released their fourth studio album with Downtown, a 10-track album titled Dear Miss Lonely Hearts. Listen to: “Water & Power”
LISSY TRULLIE -
2009 was a big year for Lissy Trullie with the release of her first EP, Self-Taught Learner. Truille signed with Wichita Recordings shortly after the release, projecting her EP across the pond to Europe. Trullie’s relationship with Wichita Recordings was short lived; that same year she signed with Downtown records and re-released an extended version of her EP. Her swanky vocals and club beats gained her national attention with the release of her first full-length, self-titled album, in 2012. With a sound similar to and as big as La Roux, it is obvious Truillie’s best years are yet to come. Listen To: “Boy Boy”
WHITE DENIM - Three-man band, White Denim, made
things official in 2005. Based out of Austin, Texas, White Denim gained a sizeable following in the UK early in their career. Their mellow indie rock sound came to life in 2007 with the release of their first EP, Let’s Talk About It. White Denim signed with Downtown Records in 2011 and has released two complete albums and one EP under this label. Listen to: “Street Joy”
WORDS: Perry Fish
VENUE HIGHLIGHT STUBB’S - AUSTIN, TEXAS
WHY PLAY HERE?
What once began as a simple restaurant has now blossomed into a multi-purpose establishment. It has been said that Texas native, Christopher B. Stubblefield (aka Stubb), descended from a family of amazing cooks. He used his God given talent to cook for soldiers during his service in the Korean War. Stubb achieved his dream of opening his very own restaurant when he returned, which eventually blew up into a mecca for up and coming acts at the time such as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Now, years later in the live music capital of the world, Stubb’s still remains one of the most sought after venues for local and popular musical acts across the country. The venue is also one of hundreds that cater live acts during the annual South By South West music festival, complete with an indoor as well as outdoor stage behind the building. It may be a dive, but it certainly acquires a lot of charm and plenty of character.
Stubb’s is located right in the heart of Austin, Texas, just off the legendary 6th street, which is well known for it’s night life embracing all walks of life. The younger crowd flocks to the street at night to enjoy everything Austin has to offer, including the bars and venues that line the streets, which Stubb’s just so happens to be apart of. The laid back vibe that this intimate venue offers is quite unique. The fact that it lacks a barricade allows fans get up close and personal with the talented performing artists scheduled each night. Whether you happen to be in the restaurant enjoying some good ole Texas barbeque, or you are catching a show seen from the pit area or the balcony, Stubb’s has something to offer for everyone. It is not only an inviting venue for the music junkies, but it is family friendly as well. They are famous for their “live music, cold beer, and great food.” What more could anyone want from a music venue?
TWITTER: @StubbsAustin FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/StubbsAustin WEBSITE: www.stubbsaustin.com AUGUST 11TH
Cold War Kids
The Oh Hellos
REVIEW: Haley Black PHOTO: Venue’s Facebook
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YOU’LL BE AMAZED BY
JOB: Round Hill Music CEO LOCATION: New York, NY
YOU STARTED OFF WORKING IN MUSIC BEFORE BEGINNING A CAREER IN FINANCE AND NOW YOU’RE BACK TO MUSIC WITH ROUND HILL. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO PURSUE BOTH? WHAT MADE YOU GO BACK TO MUSIC? My goal from a young age was to work in the music business. While in high school I interned at recording studios in New York City. I did an internship at Sony Music one summer and other internships around Hartford, where I was in college. One was at the amphitheater where all the major summer tours come through and another was a club called the Webster Theatre. Great venues by the way. I also went to Berklee College of Music for three semesters to study music business right after undergrad. My first job was at Atlantic records working in international product development. Atlantic was really fun and great place to work but I wasn’t making a lot of money and I felt the pressure to not only make a better living, but also to empower myself with the knowledge of finance, an important skill to have in any kind of business. So I did a total 180 degree turn from music and dove into finance head first working at Bear Stearns as an analyst in their investment banking group, where it was typical to work 100 hour weeks and sleep under your desk for a couple of hours each night. It was brutal. More or less a boot camp for investment banking- learning modeling, spreadsheets, valuation, company analysis, accounting, and powerpoint presentations. All great things to learn. The knowledge I gained there made me much more adept at finance, which proved to be integral to everything I did after. After thirteen years in finance including earning an MBA at Columbia Business School and an MBA from the London Business School, as well as serving 6 years in the United Coast Guard Reserve (something I started just after 9/11) I needed a change. I also missed music a lot. Especially playing music. I started playing guitar again and joined a metal band called Rubikon, and realized when it came to anything related to the band, my motivation was 10 times what it was in my finance job. I wanted that same motivation and passion to exist in my day to day work. I figured that if I could find an outlet that could blend finance and music, I’d be in a perfect space. That’s when I discovered music publishing. ROUND HILL MUSIC OWNS SIX BEATLES SONGS (SOME OF THE BEST ONES I MIGHT ADD). WAS OWNING SONGS BY THE BEATLES A SPECIFIC GOAL? OR JUST AN OPPORTUNITY YOU CAME ACROSS? Never in a million years would I think that within a year of starting Round Hill we would own Beatles songs. The sale of the catalog was a unique opportunity that Richard Rowe our Vice Chairman came across and because of our connectivity to the sellers, good timing, and a bit of patience, we got the deal done. WHEN YOU SIT DOWN AND REALLY THINK ABOUT IT, WHAT’S IT LIKE KNOWING THAT YOU OWN SOME OF THEIR MATERIAL? It’s incredible! When I see Round Hill Music at the top of the royalty statements for these songs, I still pinch myself. I’m looking forward to seeing the new show Let It Be on Broadway as it has several of our Beatles songs in it.
INTERVIEW: Jennifer Boylen and Steven Paul PHOTO: Courtesy of Round Hill Music
WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL GOAL OR IDEA WHEN STARTING ROUND HILL MUSIC? HAS THE COMPANY MET OR CHANGED THAT GOAL AT ALL? The original goal was to create a business that did 2 things. One, have a premier music publishing company that could honestly say it paid close attention to all its songs and songwriters. The second was to build a music publishing catalog of the highest quality. I think we’ve met that goal. Ask one of our writers about the service of Round Hill and check out our catalog. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE A BAND OR ARTIST TO REPRESENT? DO YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC PROCESS AS A COMPANY? We deal with songwriters. Songwriters might also be in a band or a solo artist, but I need to clarify that in publishing we choose songwriters, not necessarily bands or artists. In terms of the songwriters we represent, it’s all about the strength of the songs they write, and do we feel we can find a place for them in the worlds that create royalties for songwriters. We have a process that involves having listening meetings with the entire team and getting a consensus from everyone, including interns, whether there is business merit in the songs we listen to. BESIDES BEING CEO OF RHM, YOU’RE ALSO A PARTNER AT GRUSS & CO. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO JUGGLE BOTH OF THOSE, A MARRIAGE, AND A DAUGHTER? 100% of my professional time is devoted to RHM. As of recently I am no longer an active partner at Gruss and Co, but I’m still close with everyone there and I am an investor. In terms of work and family, I have an 8 year old daughter, Sienna, and twins who are now 7 months old, so it’s busy on the home front for sure but thanks to the support of my wife, who is easily the most organized person I’ve ever encountered, all the balls we juggle don’t get dropped. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR CAREER? Getting Round Hill off the ground. Starting a new business is really tough, but also really rewarding. HOW DID YOU, OR DO YOU CONTINUE TO, OVERCOME THESE STRUGGLES? Determination. Once you decide to start a new business you can’t quit, you need to just keep pushing and seeing it through. Because I love what I do, I’m extremely motivated to see Round Hill succeed. WHAT IS THE ‘HIGHLIGHT’ OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR? There are many recent highlights. Signing the publishing for many of the songwriters and artists that I grew up admiring. Tesla, Umphrey’s Mcghee, Charlie Hunter, and Marti Frederiksen are just a few that come to mind. WHAT IS THE ONE DREAM THE MOMENT AT WHICH POINT EITHER PERSONALLY OR COLLECTIVELY YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO SAY YES I’VE ACHIEVED THIS, I’M LIVING MY DREAMS? Every morning when I walk into the office.
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REPORT CARD FESTIVAL: Lollapalooza LOCATION: Chicago, IL WHEN: August 3-5, 2013 PHOTOS: Courtesy of Lollapalooza REVIEW: Ashley Osborn
If you were hungry at all over the weekend Lollapalooza had it covered. They had chow town North and South, which included several different (most of them were completely local) restaurants’ biggest dishes. Not to mention sponsors Red Bull and Bud Light everywhere! Along with the incredible Farmer’s Market and Chef Graham Elliot’s lobster corndogs. Grade:
This year’s headliners included The Cure, The Postal Service, Vampire Weekend, Nine Inch Nails, Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, Steve Aoki and The Killers (to name a few.) In my opinion, this line-up was the best and most diverse of any festival so far this entire year. Grade:
Every single day the weather was partly cloudy and practically perfect. Since Grant Park is just feet away from Chicago’s lakeshore, there was a consistent cooling breeze and swept through the hills and down the streets. Grade:
All I have to say is Green. Street. Not to mention Lollapalooza only serves boxed water and they have a refilling station for water bottles. The festival is overly dedicated to providing green options and helping the environment. They also encourage green transportation because of it’s prime downtown Chicago location. Grade:
Like almost every festival, it’s packed with kids on drugs and too many drunk people. However, I really appreciate how Lollapalooza has a stage dedicated to electronic music and DJ’s as well as an entire area dedicated strictly to kids and families! It keeps everyone separated. Although trying to walk past the electronic stage was near hell. I was also pretty disappointed with the lack of people I saw singing along to tunes. Grade:
Nestled in the heart of Chicago, Lollapalooza is the one festival that honestly never disappoints. After covering the festival last year, even through “Loll-Apcalalypse,” we were more than anxious and honored (to say the least) to return for a second year! I mean let’s be honest... it’s the most eco-friendly and impressive festival in the entire world. Here are our favorite moments and bands of the entire weekends. I can’t imagine a festival better than this. Grade:
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TWENTY | ONE | PILOTS
As the rain trickled down before twenty | one | pilots took the stage, their dedicated fans scattered in by the thousands to watch. Playing a remarkable (as always) set, the dynamic duo was truly one of my favorite performances by the weekend. We can’t wait to see the future of this band— especially since every time one of us happens to catch them live, their crowd grows exponentially.
LANA DEL REY
The Neighbourhood welcomed thousands of fans into their world of black and white with open arms on Friday afternoon. What a great way to kick off an amazing weekend!
A near immortal Lana Del Rey greeted fans on a very chilly Friday night at Lollapalooza. “I need a cigarette,” she mumbled as she floated across the stage to begin her first song, “Cola.” Her cult following glowed in awe as they watched her play a flawless hour and fifteen minute set. The second she was done, she greeted them face to face by hoping into the photo pit for over ten minutes, signing autographs and taking pictures with everyone along the barricade. It was truly a celebration to welcome Lana back onto an American stage and a night I will never forget.
CHANCE THE RAPPER
There was no room to move anywhere within a 1,000 foot radius of the BMI Stage 20 minutes before he took the stage. As you can imagine, the Chicago native’s set was absolutely mad in only the greatest of ways.
Regardless of the power outage that interrupted their set only a mere song in, Imagine Dragons was one of my personal weekend HIGHLIGHTs. Vocalist Dan Reynolds’ passion captures your attention within seconds. It’s always simply a pleasure seeing Imagine Dragons.
Y A D R U T SA
THE POSTAL SERVICE
The first and last time I ever saw The Postal Service was on Saturday night. As the lights went dim, the three piece (plus Laura Burhenn of the Mynabirds) began playing “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight,” causing the crowd to obtain chills. The most bittersweet hour and a half of my life was filled with songs from the band’s only album, Give Up. It was truly an honor to have seen the Postal Service and I’m looking forward to seeing what each of them does next. I mean let’s be honest… it’s going to be incredible nonetheless.
LITTLE GREEN CARS
As I heard catchy indie rock tunes from a distance while catching a breather in the grass, I immediately had to pull my phone out to see who it was. To no surprise I discovered it was Little Green Cars. If they can catch my attention from across a field, I have no doubt in my mind that they will do wonders for your musical palate if you catch them in a venue setting!
MATT & KIM
To absolutely no surprise, Matt & Kim had the most upbeat and colorful set of the entire weekend, hands down! Look at these balloons... come on you two... you’re making everybody else look bland. We love this duo!
We’ve always been huge Ellie Goulding fans so we had to catch her set on Saturday evening. It’s incredible that her crowds seem to grow by the thousands each time we see her. It was certainly a HIGHLIGHT of the weekend for us! She played a more gripping set than ever before.
What more do we have to say? HAIM is and was just incredible.
This band has been taking over. To no surprise, they easily win the most tweeted about act of the weekend. Tens of thousands of fans packed the stage and erupted for each and every flawless tune.
Hailing from Chile, we were so excited to see this amazing four piece live! They rocked the Red Bull stage early in the day and got us off on the right foot! You need to hear this band.
Butts were certainly shaking as Major Lazer absolutely blew my mind. I had no words when I passed their set while walking near Perry’s Stage on Sunday.
Full of smiles and backed with the most beautiful and vibrant set of the weekend, Vampire Weekend (no pun intended), certainly captured the hearts of their diehard fans and strangers alike as they played one of the last sets of the festival on Sunday evening.
TEGAN AND SARA
After a rough performance years back during a near 100-degree day, Tegan and Sara’s jaw dropping performance was redemption to say the least! I especially loved when they played “Back In Your Head” and the entire crowd bobbed their heads left to right.
Check their Facebook: “four Parisian boys with brotherly love.” It’s about as simple as that. Phoenix are the gods of indie rock and they have bond unlike any other. Their performance was the absolute best of Sunday. What a way to close the festival!
If we didn’t write something about the fact that we actually saw The Cure this weekend then you could probably discredit us as a music magazine. IT HAPPENED and it was so f**king rock and roll! Thank you, Lollapalooza.
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IT WOULDNâ€™T BE SUMMER
without attending Warped Tour and this summer, Highlight was lucky enough to attend two dates (Chicago, IL and Columbia, MD! Even though it was dreadingly hot, we tried to catch as many acts as we could! Our favorites from the day include Bring Me The Horizon, blessthefall., Crown The Empire, The Wonder Years, I See Stars, Tonight Alive and Hands Like Houses, among many others! One of my favorite moments was during Bring Me The Horizonâ€™s set. Closing the day, the ampitheatre was PACKED beyond belief overflowing into the lawn and every single fan was singing along to old and new songs. Oli Sykes looked the happiest I have ever seen him. Make sure you keep an eye out on our website for more photos from our Warped days!
HOME: Austin, TX NOW JAMMING: Preachers - Full-Length (The End) CURRENTLY: Preparing for a U.S. tour with Electric Six in September
MUSIC IS OFTEN A SPIRITUAL experience,
and My Jerusalem founder and frontman Jeff Klein is hoping to provide that experience to his listeners. My Jerusalem began when Klein decided that after doing several solo albums and tours and helping others with their albums and tours, forming his own band was what he needed to do next. “I was, creatively, at a point where I was looking for something to inspire me,” said Klein. “I knew having a band of my own was what could fulfill that desire.” Klein came up with the name for the band while on tour in Israel in his previous band Gutter Twins. “I had such an amazing time while I was there, especially roaming around Jerusalem. It was a spiritual experience. I’m not talking about religion; I’m talking about spirituality. I wanted this new band to give me and everyone else the same feeling. I wanted it to be my Jerusalem,” said Klein. Klein explained that since the band have only done two records so far, there is not a definitive songwriting process but usually he comes up with the basic body of an idea melodically and lyrically and then brings it to the band to “help dress it up or tear it down.” He continued by saying that bands are like relationships and songwriting is like sex. “We both have to be in the right mood, and when it connects its mind blowing.” Klein is influenced by everything around him. “I’m like a sponge,” he said. “Everything affects me for better or worse. My art is influenced by everything from a sign a homeless man is holding begging for change to the recorded works of Scott Walker.” My Jerusalem have recently come back from doing many dates oversees which Klein said was fantastic. “We opened for Sting last night, along with the Kaiser Chiefs. How weird is that? We
have been lucky enough to play to some incredible crowds and everyone we met has been amazing. It was our first show in Czech Republic past week and we had a tent full of a few thousand people cheering on. We even got an encore at a festival. In the 4pm slot.” As far as where his favorite place to perform is Klein explained that, “every country has its own nuances and all of them are equally great.” Klein said the highlight of his career has been waking up every day and getting to call his music is career as well as being lucky enough to call some of his childhood heroes close friends and peers. While his career makes him feel lucky he also said it can be a struggle especially at a small level. “It’s a 24 hour job doing this. It can be all-consuming at times and you have to find your footing within that. The days are long and the travel can be exhausting. And the financial gain at first isn’t always on par with the blood, sweat, and tears put in,” he said. “But you gotta be into it for bigger reasons.” Though it can be a hard life, Klein said you just have to push past the hard times and remember the grand picture. “Everyone has shitty days. And almost always, they are followed by amazing days that remind you why you do what you do. I know a lot of people whose dreams have turned into regrets. I refuse to live that way.” My Jerusalem will be playing dates on the East and West coast this fall and plan on beginning work on a new album soon. PHOTO: Chad Kamenshine for The Artistree INTERVIEW AND STORY: Morgan Waldorf
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HOME: Chattanooga, TN NOW JAMMING: Nickels & Dimes - EP CURRENTLY: Planning for the future
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NASHVILLE BASED INDIE ROCKERS,
Machines Are People Too, caught our attention with the release of their new EP, Nickles & Dimes. We saw them on the Lollapalooza line-up and knew that we had to set up an interview to introduce them to you! Trust us – these guys are the next big thing to come not only out of Chattanooga, but out of this year’s Lollapalooza line-up (which if you didn’t see the line-up, that’s saying a lot)! We caught up with the entire band, JJ Clark (Bass) and Brian Sylvester (Vocals), Cain Lassiter (Keys) Ivan Garcia (Drums) and recently added guitar player, Daniel! HIGHLIGHT: Can you tell us a bit about how all of you guys came together? JJ: Brian and I went to college together in Chattanooga. We both grew up in Franklin, TN (south of Nashville) but never met each other until college. We went to a bunch of the same parties and I would always play some of my songs on an ipod because they tended to be “party” songs. He really liked what I was doing and that ended up with us writing together. We wrote a few songs and he ended up sharing it with a lot of his friends. He knew a lot more people in the scene than I did so after a few weeks we were asked to play our first show without a name or a live band. This was indeed nerve racking but we wanted to share our music with people. That show led to more shows in Chattanooga and Atlanta. We ended up adding Cain and Ivan because we wanted a fuller live sound. Before adding Cain and Ivan, Brian and I were using an iPod and a couple of cheap keyboards to play out. So adding those two guys really made our sound a lot bigger and fuller which is something we always wanted. We played with that lineup for a while and then just a few months ago we added our friend/guitarist Daniel. HIGHLIGHT: How would you explain your sound for people who haven’t yet discovered it? JJ: I guess genre wise you could call us ‘electronic pop rock’? But what we’re really trying to do is write fun pop songs. I’ve always loved everything from the Beatle’s to The Killers and always wanted to play in a band who had the whole crowd singing a long. Just recently a lady came up to us after she saw us and told us that our music took her to her happy place and that clicked with us. All the reviews we’ve been getting lately seem to be saying the same thing so we’re all pretty excited that we are able to convey that message. HIGHLIGHT: When/how did each of you discovering your love for music? Had any of you played in previous bands before? JJ: I played in bands in high school. I grew up in Franklin and that’s what all my friends did. There was literally nothing to do except sports and music and most of my friends played music. BRIAN: I grew up always loving to sing. My parents supported that and at a very young age helped me find ways to explore what my voice could do. I began soon musical theatre at age 8 and continued it through my high school years. I played in only two bands in my life, my band in high school and Machines Are People Too. I think I’ve always put so mich heart and dedication into music that I refuse to give up. I’ve always loved music, but 24 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
more now than ever. DAN: I was a toddler when I first heard “Whole Lotta Love”, Led Zeppelin, in my room on a small radio. I was frightened by the chaotic Nature of the song at first, but so intrigued that I’ve never stopped chasing that magic ever since. CAIN: I guess it would be when I was 5 years old and my brothers would practice at the house, by 6 my parents bought me a drum set and I started taking lessons . From there I started to want to find the notes rather than the Rythm . You could say it was my older brother who got me into different types of music at a very young age . And I’m blessed for that. IVAN: Well %90 of my family is involved with music, so I pretty much was born in a family of musicians. I’ve always been obsessed with music/drums since I can remember. But I do remember seating next to the drummer at church through out the whole service since I was a baby, wouldn’t take my eyes off of the drums. I’m sure that had a lot to do whit why I am now a drummer. I played in church my whole childhood. Music has always been the love of my life. HIGHLIGHT: What has been the most difficult part of your time together as a band, both individually and collectively? How have you overcome these struggles? It’s very important for us as a publication that’s focused on positivity to talk about these things. JJ: I think the hardest thing for the band has been the transition from Chattanooga to Nashville. I guess collectively that kind of signified us leaving behind a lot of memories and good times to pursue something more than what he had. I remember thinking “I’m 26 and I have no money, I’m moving back in with my parents after 8 years of living on my own.” It was tough but it really made me realize that I wanted to do music. I love making music and always have and I wasn’t going to let my pride get in the way of that. HIGHLIGHT: What has been the biggest industry lesson that you have learned thus far as your time together as a band? JJ: Work with people who you love and love you. Show up on time. Be nice and smile. Set high expectations for yourself. Never quit. Enjoy the process.... I think I have seen these on bumper stickers somewhere. HIGHLIGHT: What has been the HIGHLIGHT of your career? JJ: Not one thing stands out but I remember going to L.A. to record our first EP. It was my first time on the west coast and we got to wake up and make music every day. It was so surreal. It was the first time where I realized that I could maybe make this my career and that it was as fulfilling as I thought it could be. HIGHLIGHT: What can fans expect from you over the next few months? JJ: We’re playing a bunch of shows. We’ll be making videos. Hopefully we’ll hire someone to fix our website. Our goal is to tour as much as possible so we’re all just trying to get that sorted out now. PHOTO, INTERVIEW AND STORY : Ashley Osborn
FIVE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT NICKLES & DIMES!
We recorded the EP at the Stu which is in Franklin, TN where we grew up. The craziest thing about that is that our keyboard player Cain grew up in the same house. The guy who bought the house from Cain’s parents was a mastering engineer and converted it into his studio. He ended up selling it to the guys we recorded with. The control room was Cain’s bedroom. It was a pretty crazy experience for Cain because he had a lot of firsts in that house.... We recorded an elementary choir (Hunter’s Bend Elementary Franklin, TN). Brian actually went to the same elementary school and his old choir teacher was still there. Further, he has a 9 year old sister who actually was in the choir and she sang on the record. Pretty insane. It was cool though because his teacher was stoked that one of her students had gone on to pursue a singing career. I’m sure not many singers go back to their elementary school to tell their choir teacher “thank you” so it was a pretty neat thing for both Brian and her.
I think 50+ different voices on the ep. The kid’s choir was 30 something people but we had a few gang vocal parties where 12 to 13 people would come out and party and sing. We supplied free beer and they supplied their vocal chords. We think it was a fair trade.
Everyone in the band was working full time during the recording process of this ep. We would go 4 days/nights in the studio then would go work a bunch of doubles at our server jobs. It was a really intense process that lasted a month. It was tough on all of us but I think it was toughest on Brian because we had just recently moved to Franklin from Chattanooga so that we could be closer to Nashville. He had to be long distance with his girlfriend for the first time so it was tough. A lot of the lyrics actually came from what he was going through at that point.
Brian and I were living with our parents during the recording process. We both hadn’t lived with them in years but we needed a few months of free rent to find places in Nashville. It was hilarious to come home from a crazy day night at the studio and have my mom ask ‘mom’ questions. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ll always remember that.
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HOME: Atlanta, GA NOW JAMMING: Disillusion - Full-Length (Triple Crown Records) CURRENTLY: On tour with Daylight and Native
AMBIENT ROCKERS FROM ATLANTA,
Georgia, O’Brother, have concocted quite the intriguing formula; which sets the dynamic of their band apart from many of today’s cookie cutter rock artists. Their melodic sounds can be grungy at times and subdued during others, adding variety and surprises in every track. The band has been preparing the release of their next full length since early this year and we spoke to Michael Martens about the details of the upcoming record, the band’s experience at Lollapalooza, and the excitement that the band shares as they are about to embark on their first headlining tour. Following the release of their album, Garden Window, O’Brother made the executive decision to engage in an intense recording process when they made the trek from the south all the way to Long Island, renting a house near a producer to begin recording their new project. After lengthy hours in the studio being fully immersed in their music, Disillusion was born. This process differed from those in the past, thus creating a unique new collection of songs. “In a sense, it helped us focus on what we were doing, tenfold. We were able to eat, sleep and breathe this record. We would spend 10-12 hours with Sapone, locked away in his house, and then come back to our rental and, because we didn’t have our normal environment and friends to go back to, still be held aware of where we were and why we were there,” Martens explained. Although the band is used to being away from loved ones, putting thousands of miles on a van and waking up in a new city every day, the recording process in a new temporary home away from home provided them each with a new perspective and a spark of inspiration to match. “It was different than being away from home on tour because we were able to find some familiarity in coming home to the same bed each night, but living for a month outside of the normal comfort zones for a touring band [home and the road,] brings a different type of awareness to what you are doing.” O’Brother’s latest creation features many underlying themes that fans will soon be able to decipher once the record is released later this month. Each song will force the audience to pick at their own brains to understand the depth of the discreet messages that are intertwined within each individual track. “I think it’s a healthy questioning of life, death and the relationships with the people that surround you. Disillusion isn’t about not having any idea how the world around you is working, but rather an understanding that you have to dig deeper than can be comfortable at times in order to find truth,” said Martens. Finding the perfect album artwork to accurately display the story that an album tells can be a tricky, tedious project, but O’Brother hit the nail right on the head this time around. The band worked side by side with friends and artists, Ian Rowan and Yaroslav Gerzhedovich, to conceive the perfect artwork to coincide with Disillusion. 28 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
“The art for Disillusion definitely held some strange divine providence over the other aspects of this record,” said Martens. “The cover piece is called ‘Questions and Answers’ and without knowing it, we fell in love with a font that had the same name as one of our favorite tracks on the record, ‘Oblivion.’ We couldn’t be happier with the way the artwork represents what we were trying to say.” Playing a big outdoor festival was not exactly in the band’s comfort zone considering they are used to performing in more intimate venues where their sound can completely circulate throughout the room. Without walls to keep the amplified music contained, the sound is free to roam wherever it wants and many bands can be heard playing at one time. O’Brother had the opportunity to play at this year’s Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, and they happened to adapt to the change just fine. “I think you have to step up your game and get people to focus on you a lot harder than if they had walls surrounding them and sound only coming from in front of them. Everyone can see everything, and there are a variety of factors that change the way you hear a band outside.” Now that their weekend stay in Chicago has come to an end, the band will be immediately heading out on their first headlining tour with their friends in Daylight and Native, and they couldn’t be more thrilled about the months ahead supporting the record and getting back out on the road. “We’ve done co-headlining stuff in the past, and of course we’ve played plenty of headlining one-offs and spot dates, but we’ve never done a proper tour like this. We’ve known Native for a good while, and we’ve shared common friends with both bands for just as long. We’ve been taking our time putting together a lot of special aspects for this tour and so far everything has been smooth. There’s something for everyone that comes to one of these shows.” The band won’t be experiencing any more cabin fever for remainder of 2013 since their current agenda includes touring a lot to support the new record. It has been one hell of a year for the guys and they have been packing every experience of being musicians from recording and releasing a new record to playing a major festival, now to partaking in their first headlining tour. Be sure to catch them if they come to a city near you, because it sounds like they have a lot of live surprises hidden up their sleeves. PHOTOS: Ashley Osborn INTERVIEW & STORY: Haley Black
HOME: Iowa City, IA NOW JAMMING: Storyline - EP CURRENTLY: On tour with Hello Highway!
IF THERE’S A BAND THAT KNOWS
about the pains of touring without actually being on a tour, it’s Jocelyn. The pop rockers from Iowa City, Iowa, have been following tours promoting their band for over a year now. If you’ve seen The Cab, The Maine or Mayday Parade in the past year, it’s probable that you’ve ran into at least one, if not all, of the Jocelyn guys. They possess the hard work and determination that many bands lack and it makes you wonder if these guys will ever catch a break. We have the answer to this question and more in this interview with the band’s bassist, Alex Wiese. Highlight: You guys have been promoting your band by following various tours for the past year. A lot of bands will promote at other shows, but you guys have taken this method to the next level. Have you seen your determination and hard work pay off? Alex Wiese: You’re absolutely right! A lot of bands promote and they especially know the importance of hitting up shows at the local venues. So, we run into a lot of bands in their hometowns and it’s great, there’s no reason to not be doing that. But we have taken it to the highest extreme by promoting at so many shows. Last I checked, we had personally promoted at over 200 shows, and there are always two members at each show we promote at, and we’re there at least 2 hours before the doors open and we’re there until at least an hour after the show finishes. The Kickstarter campaign that we recently finished is a testament to our promotion and we feel extremely vindicated. After 13 months of being on the road and working as hard as absolutely possible, people have rewarded us with an unbelievable amount of financial backing to help us get to the next level. The Timeless Tour in August will hopefully further validate our determination by having plenty of individuals show up at the shows. Highlight: What is the hardest part about following tours to promote your band? Have you become friends with any of the bands whose tours you’ve followed? The hardest part is easily the length of time we spend at shows. We really pride ourselves on taking time to have actual conversations with people, and not simply show up when the concert ends and hand them a flyer and tell them to check us out. By showing up around 2pm every day and typically not leaving until midnight, it’s a long work day that means hundreds of separate conversations, and no matter how rested you are, you’ll always be exhausted after a day like that. We have been fortunate to be extremely welcomed by the vast majority of bands and band members we have enounced. They overwhelmingly appreciate and understand the daily grind that goes into establishing yourself, and as long as you’re considerate of their needs and wants as a band playing that evening, they respect your desire to promote yourself as well. I don’t mean to leave anyone out, but The Cab, The Maine, Justin from Brighten, This Century, Mayday Parade, and many more. Highlight: On another note, what is the coolest experience you’ve had while out promoting? Surprisingly, it’s nothing particularly monumental or crazy. It’s the little moments when you’ve had particularly touching moments with fans or people who you’ve met in your travels and they tell you how much you mean to them. When you can see the twinkle
in their eye and the smile on their face and you just know that you truly mean something to them, and have hopefully made their daily life better. That’s the coolest thing that’s happened while promoting. Highlight: On your Facebook page, there is a phone number where fans can text you and you’re also very connected to fans through social media. How important is it for you to connect with your fans on a personal level? It’s the bedrock upon which Jocelyn rests. We believe that everybody has a story and it’s important that somebody is always listening, so we answer every single text and voicemail we get. Being in a band is “about the music” as every musician says, to an extent. But, without the people you can’t afford to make the music. I think I speak for the band when I say that the joy in making music is because of the way it helps connect people, and without that connection it’d be a whole lot less important to us. Highlight: You released your EP, Storyline, earlier this year. How has the response been so far? Storyline has been very well received from our fans, by the sound of it. Between Storyline and our freshman EP, To You & Yours, we’ve sold over 10,000 albums, a number that seems pretty phenomenal if you ask me. So, we’re excited about that. Highlight: What does this EP mean to you as a band? If I had to put it into one word I’d say “growth.” A band’s first EP is always a little bit of an experiment, and after spending more time together, I think the second EP was still an experiment, but more of a cohesive effort. Highlight: You guys started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to tour in August and exceeded your goal in 10 minutes. How does seeing such an immediate response make you feel? We exceeded our goal of $5,000 within 10 minutes, we doubled the goal within 24 hours, and we ultimately quadrupled the goal within 24 days, finishing with $20,500+ from 605 separate backers. We couldn’t be more thrilled with this result. This Kickstarter really made a statement that a band that tries to be good people, who does right by those around them and works hard, can ultimately get ahead in this industry. We feel like our backers made a statement that they believe in us, that they want to see us on tours, and that hopefully the promotional days are slowly fading into the background, which I couldn’t be more excited about. Highlight: We expect to hear a lot from you guys in the next year or so. What are your plans for the rest of 2013? In August, we will be on the Timeless Tour with Hello Highway and Once Upon A Time, as well as select shows off the tour. After the Timeless Tour, we will be home for several weeks recording and promoting a series of ten cover songs that we will release on YouTube. We promised this to our Kickstarter backers for helping us reach $15,000. After that, we hope to be back on tour hitting more of the country and continuing this steady upward climb that we’re currently riding. PHOTO: Matt Vogel INTERVIEW & STORY: Jessica Klinner
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HOME: Brooklyn, NY NOW JAMMING: You’re Always On My Mind - Full-Length (Topshelf Records) CURRENTLY: Touring the US with various acts (mewithoutYou, Sugar Glyder and more)
PEOPLE WILL BE FILLED WITH good vibes in every measure with the combination of Matthew Fazzi’s moody, baritone vocals, Pete Weiland‘s jazz influenced guitar riffs, the funky bass produced by Tucker Yaro, and Tyler Soucy’s compelling work on the drums. These four excellent musicians are each the vital pieces that make up the Brooklyn, NY, indie/rock quartet A Great Big Pile Of Leaves. They spoke to us a little about how the production of their most recent album, their plans for the future and well as how being in a band has fulfilled their wildest dreams.
“I think being a full time band is a goal we’ve all had in mind, and getting there has just been a natural progression over the years. Even the way the band has formed and changed has been that same process. It started out with just Pete and I after a band we used to be in slowed down, and then Tucker and Matt joined over the next few years,” Tyler Soucy explained.
hope that listeners don’t either. Just like any other band, they want fans to appreciate their music and be proud of it just as much as they are. “We don’t take ourselves very seriously as people, but we take our music seriously, and it’s great to see people pulling these same emotions from the music that we put into it.” When putting out new music, there is always fear in the back of an artist’s mind that it may not be as successful as they hope. When A Great Big Pile Of Leaves began playing songs off the new record, their doubts were soon put to rest and the crowd reaction always gave them the positive reassurance that they needed. “It’s always a little intimidating to play new songs, either because you worry about crowd reaction, or you’re just not as comfortable playing them compared to the other songs you’ve been playing for years. No matter what, it’s always exciting.”
As of late, there has been a trend in the music industry of artists pre releasing their albums for the public to hear before the actual release date. Whether accidental or on purpose, there are many pros and cons to participating in such an act and Soucy gave us his thoughts on the phenomenon.
The recording process was just as satisfying for the guys as playing their new music live. Many bands feel held back when working with producers, but in this case the foursome appreciated the input from an outside source. They were still were able to execute their full creative control while working with producer, Ed Ackerson.
“It gives people a chance to check out the record before they spend their money on it, and it also gives them a chance to tell their friends about it, and spread the music around more easily. The ‘downside’ is that the album leaks onto torrent sites early,” Soucy explained. “The more we can spread the music around, the better.”
“He didn’t want to change the core of the band at all or anything about the songs we had written, but he definitely added a lot of new textures and layers to the record, which I think helped a ton,” Soucy stated. “We’re extremely happy with the way everything turned out, and we were heavily involved through the entire process. We’ve already started to talk about the next record and we’ll definitely be doing it at a studio with a producer, it was such a positive experience for us.”
This year has been an exceptional year for new releases, and if you haven’t checked out A Great Big Pile Of Leaves’ newest addition, You’re Always On My Mind, yet you better do yourselves a favor and give it a listen. The record accurately reflects the band’s personality in every aspect, including the simple yet clever artwork. By looking at the album cover illustrated with a cartoon pizza, glass of beer, skateboard and hamburger before pressing play, you may start thinking, “Man, I like these guys already.” Who needs relationships when you have beer and food always on your mind? We may never know the true themes of the record, but they are open for interpretation. “We felt that the artwork and album title worked perfectly together, and it’s a pretty great representation of the content of our band. You never know if Pete is singing about a relationship with another person, or a relationship he has with food or skateboarding, and I think he likes to keep it that way. You can kind of take the lyrics for what they are at the surface, you can read into them a little bit and pick up on the metaphors, or you can totally create your own meanings for the songs.” Obviously these four indie rockers enjoy displaying their witty senses of humor, but they do not take their hard work lightly, and
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Soucy shared some advice he received and wanted to pass it along to any fellow or aspiring musicians, which was to “Do as much on your own as you can. There is so much involved with being in a band, and it’s great to learn how all of those little parts work before you share those responsibilities with other people.” Even though he admitted that everything in the band’s career thus far has been a highlight, he mentioned that making it onto the Billboard charts was an exciting moment. “We’re also touring with one of my favorite bands in the fall. I’d like to think that if this ended today we’d all be proud and grateful for what has been achieved, but I also hope there is a lot more room to grow!” At the rate they are coasting at, progression is definitely in the cards for the boys in A Great Big Pile Of Leaves as they are already living up to their great potential. Only time will tell exactly what the future holds. PHOTO: Anjel Lopez INTERVIEW: Jenn Stookey STORY: Haley Black
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HELLO HIGHWAY 28 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
HOME: Colorado Springs, CO NOW JAMMING: Is That Tattooed - Single CURRENTLY: Preparing to release his new EP, Famour From my Bedroom, on July 30th
MANY ARTISTS WORK THEMSELVES
to death, spend every penny to their name and spend countless days away from family and friends to try and make it in music, only to hope that all their sacrifices come full circle. Hello Highway has done just that. Daniel Sumstine began his solo project following tours and playing living room shows. Now, on the cusp of his very first headlining tour it is all beginning to pay off. Hello Highway began as a way to escape from the struggles of his daily life, but song writing quickly turned into much more than just a hobby. Daniel packed up his car, a few songs and his life at home to travel to California and record his first EP. From there Hello Highway took to the road; Sumstine followed tours to promote, slept in his car and played living room shows to support himself. All with the goal of kick starting his journey as Hello Highway. “I’d say the best part was just getting to see all these new places and meet new people outside of the shows. I would run into people I had talked to strictly online and it was nice to kind of show my music to them in a more personable way. You need that type of personal interaction now a days,” he said. Granted, traveling around like that day in and day out can get really difficult, but he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
On top of that, Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount produced Timeless, which is something that a lot of musicians don’t get to experience. “Those guys are so good at what they do and they make you feel comfortable which is a huge thing for me. They keep in touch and support their artists after the recording process as well, which is rare,” he commented. With two EP’s under his belt, Sumstine isn’t near finished. He is going to be recoding a full length later this year and Hello Highway is about to embark on it’s very first headlining tour, which just happens to be one of the highlights of Sumstine’s career so far. “It feels great, but there is also a lot of pressure that comes with a headlining tour. For me, this is a huge step in my career because I want to prove to people what this fan base is about. I’ve never been this excited about a tour, and I just really hope it’s a rewarding experience for everyone who has helped me get to this point.” He said. But he’s not going to stop there! “I think that’s one of the biggest struggles of being an artist. You’re always going to want more,” he admitted.
“The worst part was definitely promoting on my own and following these tours by myself. It’s a hard feeling to swallow being in a city where you literally know no one, but you have something that you believe in so that keeps you going,” he continued, “I look back on those couple months and realize that it’s all still worth fighting for.”
The more the merrier; I don’t think anyone is complaining about Hello Highway sticking around. Be sure to catch him on his headlining tour, which kicks off in New Jersey on August 8th! Then stay tuned for more touring, a full-length album and Sumstine adds to look forward to lot’s of pictures of his cat of course. http://www.facebook.com/HelloHighway
Sumstine was motivated to keep going regardless of the hardships; the cause of his struggles was what also helped him cope.
PHOTO: Christine Bartolucci INTERVIEW & STORY: Ashley Osborn
It sounds cliché, but I turned to music. Writing songs was my of putting my struggles on paper and turning them into something positive, he said. Finally, all his hard work has definitely come full circle. He is living out his dreams every single day. “There was a moment on stage at the Gramercy Theatre in NYC earlier this year where I kind of felt that way. It was one of the first venues I ever promoted outside of and to be playing in front of a sold out crowd a year later meant a lot.” After his self-titled EP, his second release the Timeless EP dropped last summer. Although a lot of the same subjects were covered on both EP’s, like struggles in life and of course, girls, this sophomore release seems to have a lot more weight in Hello Highway’s career than his debut. “It’s weird because when I recorded my first EP literally the only people who cared were my friends and family. This time around I felt like what I was writing could actually help someone or mean something, and I did my best to do so with Timeless.”
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HOME: Phoenix, AZ
NOW JAMMING: Biography of Heartbreak - Full-Length CURRENTLY: Making touring plans for fall/winter
THIS CENTURY MAY NOT BE ONE
of the most well known bands out there, but they are well on their way to becoming one. Their high-energy shows and bright personalities are enough to make anyone want to know these guys a little better. The release of 2011’s Sound of Fire left fans wanting more; the album walked the line between being a long EP and a short full length with only eight tracks. After struggling with record labels, the band finally gave the fans what they’ve been waiting for: a proper full-length album. On May 14th of this year, This Century brought their second fulllength album, Biography of Heartbreak, into the world. Fans were chomping at the bit to hear what the band had spent quite a while mixing up and were not disappointed when they heard the album for the first time. Once again, This Century had conjured up a record filled with great sing-a-longs and honest lyrics. Biography of Heartbreak explores the pop side of the band that was hidden underneath rocking guitar parts on Sound of Fire. No worries, though, This Century did not stray too far away from their roots with the new release. Let’s just say you’ll be doing a lot more dancing in your room to this album. We caught up with guitarist Sean Silverman to talk all about their time on the 8123 tour, the new album, and future plans. Highlight: You guys are wrapping up the 8123 tour, how has the tour been compared to others you’ve been apart of? Were you more comfortable on this tour since it was with bands you’ve known for a while? Sean: It’s been the most easygoing, stress-free experience that we’ve ever had on tour. There’s usually this phase that occurs whenever you head out on the road where you have to make friends and figure out where you fit in, but with this group it’s just a bunch of great dudes from back home that we get to share the open road with. It’s been 2 years since you’ve released new music. Was there a reason it took a while to write Biography of Heartbreak? Did you just want to take your time or were there other restraints? We were definitely restrained by some details in our record deal at the time. It kind of became this dark cloud over the whole process of putting out new music. Every time we felt like we were ready to put out new material, a new roadblock would appear and slow down the whole process. Making this record was a bit of a battle at times, but all the more worth it. Biography of Heartbreak is a lot longer than Sound of Fire. Did you guys go into the studio wanting to put a lot of songs on the album or is it something that just happened once recording began? We definitely went in with the intent of putting out a longer full length because we genuinely felt that we had a lot more strong material than we did the previous time. With Sound of Fire, so much of the process was about getting our bearings and learning how to complete a record. With Biography Of Heartbreak, we really had a strong sense of concept and knew that we had much more to say. How was writing Biography of Heartbreak different than Sound of Fire? With this record, we didn’t have anyone looking over our shoulder or creating a deadline. We were the deadline. Sometimes that can be a dangerous situation for a band because you don’t have any limitations, but this time around we really welcomed that idea. It pushed us to think way outside of our normal comfort zones. 42 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
Was there any pre production for this album? Lots and lots of pre-production. In fact, we’ll probably put up some of the more interesting demos that were floating around just for fun. We definitely spent a ton of time figuring out the overall sound/ vibe for this record. We’d sit in our little make shift studio and loop a beat a hundred times until something clicked or someone went insane. Was the album written to cohesively tell a story or is each song a story in itself? The overall broad sweeping concept was the idea that heartbreak is not just about a singular emotion or construct. It’s this period of change, reflection, sadness [and] hopefulness that you go through and we hoped to convey those messages through the songs on this record. What does Biography of Heartbreak mean to you and what do you hope it means to fans? The record holds several meanings for us, but I think that most importantly it’s a symbol of dedication and love for one another during difficult times. This was a record that had many opportunities to fall apart and yet here we are talking about the release of it! We hope that fans hear it and understand the overriding positive messages in these songs, not just the fact that the word “heartbreak” is used in the title! You guys always put on high energy performances. What do you hope fans will take away from your live shows? What is your favorite part about performing? I think that our high energy is an extension of the passion that we have for our music and performing in general. We hope everyone walks away feeling that same intense positive energy that we get from performing every night. You guys always try and come out after shows to meet fans. What do your fans mean to you? What is something you’d like them to know? We are incredibly grateful for the fans that we have. They’ve been beyond loyal to us through some very difficult times and have truly changed our lives forever. We’ll never forget that. What would you say has been the most difficult part of your career for you all personally and collectively? Learning to stay positive and motivated even through the toughest of times and to curb your expectations. How did you, or do you continue to, overcome these struggles? I think that at this point in our careers we’ve been dealt so many crazy hands that we’ve been able to learn from our mistakes, or at least I hope that we have! Every time a situation seems daunting we always just go, “Well, it’s been worse before so we can get past this.” Highlight: What is the ‘highlight’ of your career so far? Being able to travel the world and performing. We started this band dreaming of the day that we could go across the globe doing what we love and that is honestly the ultimate highlight. Highlight: What are your plans for the rest of 2013? We plan to be on the road for most of the rest of the year with some lovely surprises along the way! PHOTOS: Heather Phillips INTERVIEW & STORY: Jessica Klinner
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RELIE ORIGIN: Canton, OH
NOW JAMMING: Collapsible Lung (Mono VS Stereo) CURRENTLY: On tour!
“WE ARE WHO WE ARE” IS THE
attitude that Christian rock band Relient K has about themselves. Their positive outlook in their music is exactly what got me into them back in 2004, after the release of Mmhmm. I was known in my junior high as the girl who would constantly be giving out mix CD’s to people as gifts. And I am pretty sure that every mix CD I created included multiple Relient K songs, such as my favorites, “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been,” “Sadie Hawkins Dance” and “Be My Escape.” There is nothing not to like about any of their releases. When I heard that the band was putting out a new album and had tours planned for 2013, I was stoked for what they had in store. Relient K formed in Ohio in the late 90’s when front man Matt Thiessen and guitarist Matt Hoopes were in high school. They created their name based off of Hoopes’ car at the time, a Plymouth Reliant K automobile. With seven full-length albums, two Christmas albums, one cover album and seven EP’s under their belt, Relient K is not new to the music scene. Some of their many achievements include a Grammy nomination in 2003 for Best Rock Gospel Album and two Dove awards. The band’s quirky lyrics and catchy sound has created quite the buzz and popularity for them during their musical lifetime. Being branded a Christian band that includes their faith in a lot of their songs, they have not let any of the potential negativity affect them. Keeping an optimistic outlook on the music that they are creating is what has helped them throughout their music careers. Being a Christian band has also been of help to the band. “Well, you know, it’s almost unfortunate that it’s made things easier for us,” said Thiessen. “It’s just such a big deal to some people, and not to other people. We came up in a music industry that was geared toward just Christian audiences, and it was all the Christian music industry. Would we have been able to be a band without the help of that? You never know. It’s kind of one of those things where you get pigeon-holed and people say ‘Well they’re a Christian band, they’re not a real band’ and that sort of thing. But that’s just whatever. We are who we are, and we’ve never really cared what anyone thought.” Relient K’s latest release Collapsible Lung will be their first release since their last full length, Forget and Not Slow Down came out in 2009. The album was number one on iTunes and number 16 on the Billboard charts. The band’s decision to take a break between full lengths was intentional and for what they feel helps fans to stay interested and give new creative music. “That was something I think all of us kind of collectively felt like … going back and just doing another one of the same records just felt like, why do it? So we were like, lets do something that keeps us alive and is exciting and makes us want to do it. And maybe we figured some things out on this record, but we had fun doing it and that’s what we’ve always tried to do,” explained Hoopes. “We’ve been taking it a little bit easy for the last few years, and now we’re kind of getting back to it,” added Thiessen. This band has gone through musical transformations throughout the years. Collapsible Lung has a more pop influenced sound than previous album releases, especially their most popular album, Mmhmm. Thiessen states, “We’re just doing what we do and what came out, came out. I think we will continue to cultivate and change it, and hopefully we’ll find a new sound that is us and that we really love, and then we’ll be able to put out a few right in a row. We’re searching, just like everyone else.” 46 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
Collapsible Lung has some co-writes that they included into the record. Thiessen has co-wrote with Owl City and other artists in the past, which helped to create some of the sounds for this new release. The band also worked with Fernando Garibay, who has worked with artists like Lady Gaga, U2 and Brittney Spears. Thiessen decided to have fun with the recording and song writing process. “Lyrically, yeah, there was a little bit less of a connection between us personally. That’s kind of fun about pop music too, because at least we’re open about it, right?” he said. Being a band for several years, Relient K has been given some incredible experiences, like going to Tokyo and seeing all different parts of the world. They also have been able to meet and play with bands that have been an influence to their music career. “We’ve also gotten to open up for a lot of our favorite bands from the get go, even, like one of our first tours was with Five Iron Frenzy,” said Hoopes. “MXPX we’ve toured with, and like bands that if you would have told us in high school, we’d be like ‘Wooooah, no way, never.’ So a lot of those tours have been really cool, just to be able to play with some of the bands we grew up with.” Having such longevity in the music industry has given them insight and lessons. “There are no guarantees…don’t buy into hype ever. Don’t ever believe fake positivity. And that sounds negative, even but like…some things that happen are flukes. It’s like a threefold answer but keep working hard. If you keep working at it, the flukes won’t happen. And don’t listen to the hype while you’re working on it,” explains Thiessen. The band has had their share of difficulties. With lineup changes in the past, Eric Luck leaving the band recently, along with John Warne and Schneck taking a break from touring. They have not let this affect them in a negative way. “It’s kind of crazy,” Hoopes explains. “It’s a really cool thing. We miss those guys [Luck, Warne, Schneck] for sure but it’s been a really positive thing out on the road.” Lineup changes go along with another struggle for members of the band; being able to live a normal life while also having a career in a band. Thiessen and Hoopes both feel that it is important to find that balance between family and having a unique career of playing in a popular touring band. “It kind of makes you step back a little bit and try to have that balance of being a normal person, having a normal life and normal relationships. You know, not normal, but like healthy also,” Hoopes included. I had the opportunity to see Relient K play on their recent tour with The Almost and The Rocketboys, and was excited to see how they would compare to a previous time years ago when I had seen them play. Let me tell you, if these guys roll through your neck of the woods, I highly recommend you go see them play. They are definitely still rocking their energetic performances like they were back in the early 2000’s with no disappointments. For the future of Relient K, they plan on spreading the word out about their latest release and continue to play shows all around the world for their dedicated fans. They have no plans of stopping soon and we at Highlight are excited to see what new and creative ideas they will share with us next. PHOTOS: Jered Scott INTERVIEW: Anjel Lopez STORY: Colleen Casey
HOME: Barbados NOW JAMMING: Bajan Style - Full-Length (Polydor Records) CURRENTLY: Preparing to head overseas to support Kelly Clarkson
BARBADOS IS AN ISLAND NATION
surrounded by the Caribbean Sea filled with friendly people, incredible scenery, savory food and most importantly, soulful music. With the genres of folk and dance being the primary sounds coming out of the island of Barbados, it’s no wonder the self-proclaimed “Caribpop” four-piece Cover Drive have begun to make it big. The group has found the most success in their native country of Barbados as well as in the UK. Their debut album Bajan Style hit number fourteen on the UK album charts, and they were even asked to open for Rihanna on her Loud tour in Barbados. While Cover Drive have already accomplished incredible things overseas, we think it’s only a matter of time before they blow up in the United States, which seems to be their main focus these days. Cover Drive formed out of the pursuit and passion of music. Amanda Reifer, Barry Hill, Jamar Harding and T-Ray Armstrong were all working on their own projects when Armstrong’s mother, Kerrie Thomas-Armstrong, saw a bigger picture for the friends. With her own background in the music industry, Thomas-Armstrong used her knowledge and resources in the industry to form Cover Drive and become the visionary behind the successful four-piece. “T-Ray’s mum, our manager, put us together as a band three years ago. We all loved music individually and had been pursuing music individually. Barry was into punk rock, T-Ray, metal, Jamar indie and reggae music and I was into pop. Somehow when we all came together, it just worked. As a band, we became a really strong force,” vocalist Reifer tells us. The band pulled all of their musical influences together, and decided on a band and a sound. Their flavorful culture played well into their music, and gave them an edge that is different from today’s typical Top 40 sound. “We listen to all types of music in Barbados but we love Soca (Calypso) and Reggae— in all of its forms. So even if you love pop music, you automatically have both Soca and Reggae in your system from birth. Caribbean music is really feel good and makes you want to move your hips when you hear it,” Reifer says. With social media playing such a big role into today’s industry, Cover Drive found YouTube to be a great platform for the band to garner fans and spread their music. Today, they have over 24,000 subscribers, videos with over 400,000 views, and a variety of content including tour diaries, web series, and most importantly, covers. Their covers have gained the most views on their channel, and the band has covered everyone from Train to Adele. “We love doing covers. We love to ‘CoverDriveatize’ them. That just means we put our own spin on them. I think we all have different favorite ones, but I think we can all agree that our Macklemore and Bruno Mars/Police covers are our favorites at the moment,” Armstrong explains.
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The band’s web series titled Weekend Lime is the runner up in popularity to their covers on their YouTube channel, and the band has used it as a tool to keep their fans involved in their daily lives, as well as keep the fans’ voices heard. “Our fans go mad for it [Weekend Lime.] We have been doing the show for two years now, and our fans love it and literally watch it like they do a program on TV. It is pretty awesome. Social media makes it so much easier to keep in touch with your fans and to communicate with them directly. We get to hear exactly what they like and dislike,” Harding says. Aside from YouTube, the band says they’re ready to take over the US. With there being so much musical competition here, though, they realize that in order to be successful they need to find a balance between their Barbadian sound and what is popular in the states. “Our sound is evolving especially now that we are focused on a new market…the US. Our music will still be feel-good but it definitely is edgier than before, lyrically speaking and musically speaking. We always say that Cover Drive is the lovechild of the Black Eyed Peas and No Doubt. Our new stuff sounds a lot like the Black Eyed Peas meets the Fugees meets No Doubt,” Reifer tells us. Female fronted bands are always a topic of interest in the music industry, and as a girl in a male-dominated industry, things can be tough if you don’t know how to stand your ground and be a professional. The band’s vocalist tells us that she knows how to take care of herself, and doesn’t plan on letting anyone walk all over her in this industry. “My Bajan roots make it hard for me to be a pushover. I am really one of the boys. I hold my own even though my tears, which I always tell people are not a sign a weakness but a sign of my passion! But it can be challenging for sure. I find you have to teach people how to treat you. I am always happy to help people understand how I like to be treated, Reifer confidently tells us. Cover Drive has their gears set toward taking over the United States, and we think they have exactly what it takes. A spunky sound mixed with their youthful energy and determination seems to be a great mixture of what is to come from the band. Cover Drive will be releasing a mixtape this month, and will be working on new music with US producers and writers over the rest of the remainder of the year. With that being said, we have no doubt that Cover Drive will be a band you need to know. You totally want to be the person who gets to say you knew them before they blew up, right? PHOTO: Tarina Doolittle INTERVIEW & STORY: Anjel Lopez
HOME: Southern California NOW JAMMING: The Pop Underground - EP (Left Here Music) CURRENTLY: Just finished a tour with O.A.R
BREAK UPS ARE HARD.
Break ups are even harder when it involves your favorite band. If anyone knows about band break ups, it’s Andrew McMahon. He has been apart of the rise and fall of two very successful bands— Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin. Even though McMahon has viewed the break ups from the band member perspective, it’s just as hard to get through them as it is from the fan perspective. No band wants to end a career. It’s just something that happens gradually over time and is, in most cases, the best decision for the band. McMahon never let the end of a band stop him from making music, though. The former front man of Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin has been blessing the world with his musical talents for many years. When Jack’s Mannequin decided to call it quits, fans were devastated to see another McMahon project end. For McMahon, the decision to step out into the world as a solo artist came as a no-brainer. “When it came to the moment where we realized that Jack’s had sort of recorded it’s last record and it made most sense to move on, I think I felt like it was a moment where all of a sudden the best thing that I could do would be to claim my own name and be able to say not only am I making new music, but I also was a member of these two bands. It gave me a chance to get out and perform songs from Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin at the same time and mix it in with new music.” A new beginning can be uncertain and scary for an artist, but McMahon is no stranger to starting over. Both Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin had a lot of success during their time. The pressure for McMahon to deliver a solid solo record was high. He wanted to hold on to those fans that had been loyal to him during his past projects while still venturing into a new musical territory. “Truthfully, I think that really what has marked this chapter of my career has been this idea of getting into rooms with new people and exploring my creativity in different ways.” It seems that there shouldn’t have been any worry as to whether or not fans would support McMahon as a solo artist. Even though Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin were full bands, the common thread between them was McMahon. The music behind him has changed over the years, but the voice and heartfelt lyrics have remained the same. From the fans that have been there since the beginning to the ones who have just discovered his talent, the support for McMahon continues to motivate and inspire him. “I truthfully make music first because I love it and because it is something that is the only way to deal with whatever the day brings you…Just the fact that there are songs in my catalogue that really were built to get me through the day, to find out that those songs kind of get people through their days as well, I think, if nothing else, is a really powerful reminder of why I do this.”
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McMahon entered the studio to begin work on his solo EP with almost no pressure. He was able to be honest and try new things without worrying about fitting the mold of previous releases. Becoming a solo artist gave McMahon a clean slate to re-establish himself in music. On April 30th of this year, McMahon released his first solo EP entitled The Pop Underground. The EP perfectly captures McMahon as a solo artist and explores a more electronic sound rather than the rock sound he is known for producing. “There is more of an electronic component to a lot of these songs… I think in that sense for me it became a little more exciting to take on a lot of this music because it was a challenge. To be this far down the line, working and releasing records and actually have sort of a really new component that forces me to learn something new and then approach something differently was probably what made it so fun.” McMahon has not traveled an easy road to get where he is today. Right after Jack’s Mannequin embarked on their first U.S. headlining tour in 2005, McMahon was diagnosed with leukemia. While many would give up on their dreams after such a fatal diagnosis, McMahon used his painful experience to create something positive. He saw an overwhelming response of compassion and support from fans during his battle with leukemia; he was so inspired by his fans that in 2006, McMahon started the Dear Jack Foundation to help other young adults battling cancer. “I think truthfully it was the fans that inspired me to do it… these kids were running around raising money for leukemia and cancer research and awareness. I think in a lot of sense it felt to me like, ‘Oh gosh! If this story is motivating people so much to go out and actually raise money and make a difference on their own, if we could at least help guide those funds into the right hands and give them a place to donate to then we could make a little more of a powerful statement. It is a big responsibility and I’ve got a lot of great people who I work with who help make the foundation run everyday and do what it does, but it was definitely the fans out there who moved me to create the organization.” After beating cancer, McMahon continued writing and recording with Jack’s Mannequin. McMahon recalls this part of his life as the most difficult. Everything In Transit was such a strong first record, and McMahon felt pressure to create an even better follow up album. “The most difficult moment for me was getting back [to] making a follow up record after Everything In Transit and after being sick. There were a couple of moments along the way that have been pretty intense, but I think that moment in particular and the making of [The Glass Passenger] from both personal and professional standpoint was pretty tricky. Truthfully, I think the way I got through [it] was I just put my head down and did it. There were a lot of things that made it difficult and a lot of moments where I didn’t think I would finish that album and I think a lot of people around me didn’t think I would either…I think the best thing I could have done was just to put my head down and get through it.”
McMahon used his music to heal himself. The Glass Passenger shows the struggle of a person coming out of a hard time, something McMahon knew well. By pushing through the tough times, McMahon created an album that allowed fans to go on a journey with him. “I think that in having to make the record itself forced me to find some truth and peace of mind or at least to discuss the journey of what it was. I think it did lead to some really great music.” Along with writing smash hits for his own musical projects, McMahon was approached to write a few songs for a TV show known as Smash. He took on the task of writing for the hit show after being approached by the show’s writer. “The guy who wrote the show and reached out to me was a fan and wanted to sort of take the show and introduce different artists and different musicians throughout each episode and he asked if I wanted to contribute… there were three tunes that they used throughout the season that appeared this year.” One of those three tunes McMahon wrote for the show called “I Heard Your Voice In A Dream,” landed him an Emmy nomination for Best Original Song. (Is there anything this guy can’t do?) “[After] trying to refresh myself this past year or so and trying to find a new way to approach music and new ways to sort of experiment with it, this was certainly a big moment for me.” If you were to look up the phrase, “Carpe Diem,” in the dictionary, you would find a picture of Andrew McMahon. The man has beaten cancer, recorded countless albums, toured the world and will (hopefully) win an Emmy. He is truly an inspiration to our generation of music. “I kind of wake up and pinch myself on a pretty daily basis that music is my life and that I’ve been able to make a living at it and support myself since I was 18 years old.” McMahon is currently touring the country supporting his new EP. As far as the rest of this year goes, McMahon says, “I’ll probably take most of the end of the summer and the fall off and put myself in the studio and work on new music.” PHOTOS: Ariel Kassulke INTERVIEW: Jenn Stookey STORY: Jessica Klinner
HOME: Copenhagen, Denmark --> Brooklyn, NY NOW JAMMING: A Bad Girl In Harlem - Full-Length (RCA Records) CURRENTLY: On the Rockstar UPROAR Festival and then heading around the world for tours with 30 Seconds To Mars
WITH NOT EVEN BEING A BAND
for a full five years yet, the guys in New Politics have accomplished things in their career that most bands today only dream of. They were signed to a major label before they had even released their debut album, have toured with bands like Neon Trees and Fall Out Boy, and have sat at the top of the radio charts with their current infectious single, “Harlem.” Only two albums deep into their career, New Politics have undoubtedly sparked a buzz in the music industry, but they know that this is just the beginning. While the trio has shown that they have what it takes to make it in what some would call the “big leagues,” the guys in New Politics haven’t gotten to this point without a fight. From leaving their homes in Copenhagen, Denmark, to living off of Ramen Noodles in an entirely foreign country, the band have seen their fair share of trial and tribulation during the span of their fairly new career. However, their passion and excitement for what they have developed in New Politics is so strong, they know that things will only start to look up from here. The trio that creates New Politics began their musical aspirations in Copenhagen, where vocalist David Boyd and guitarist Søren Hansen began writing songs together. Their songwriting all began as a fun project, but eventually it came to the point where Boyd knew there was something different about the songs the duo had written. He knew that the songs they were writing deserved more attention than they were getting, and wanted to make something of it.
“I met him [Hansen] about six and a half years ago and we started writing songs, and then about four years ago we had all these songs laying around and I personally really believed in them. We were having so much fun and it was like a different thing with this, y’know? We didn’t have to put much attention toward what we wanted to do; it was like we have these songs that we let build and grow and we wanted to put it out and start somewhere. So we did that. And now for the past four years we’ve been doing what has now become New Politics, and it’s starting to make more and more sense and is forming into a bigger picture,” Boyd explains. However, before New Politics, the three who make up the band were just normal guys with massive dreams. Boyd, in particular, projected his artistry in another form: through dance.
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“The way I made my money growing up was by doing street shows in Denmark. There was a drummer, a bass player and then we had seven dancers and an entire show. We would just do street shows, and I made enough money to save for the winter because we did like six shows a day. We didn’t even have a place to sleep, and we would sleep at a friend’s place, and then meet girls, and then stay at that place as long as we could. We also made money [by] traveling Europe doing the same thing and we would all get in a car and go. Eventually I got into the theatre world…I got hired by a theatre director who saw me on the streets and I really had a talent for it and letting go on stage. I remember when I was doing theatre, one of the things that got rid of all my fear of being in front of a crowd was to just not think. There is a difference between fear and being nervous, and what calmed my fear was just not thinking. You can’t go into what should’ve, would’ve, could’ve, and you just have to take what comes and do it like you’re out on the street. You have to imperfectly be in the moment. Once I kind of figured that out and understood it, I started acting. You weren’t trying to figure out how to act, you were actually being your character,” Boyd tells us. As for guitarist Søren Hansen and drummer Louis Vecchio, Boyd tells us that Hansen has been practically a musical genius his entire life, and Vecchio was born a drummer. “Søren has been doing music most of his life, and I think he really has taken it seriously for about twelve years now. He’s really been grinding and learning instruments, he knows how to work the computer
[for our music] and he’s been doing it for years at that level. He’s just incredible and has so much experience. We have such a great chemistry with the music, and we really work well off each other. Louis has been playing drums all his life and his dad plays drums, his grandfather plays drums and he just comes from a real drumming family. He’s been hustling with music and bands since he was like sixteen or something like that. He never really found a band that he could sync with; it was always a for hire basis or studio work,” Boyd tells us of his band mates. New Politics originally began with Boyd, Hansen and original drummer Poul Amaliel. While Boyd and Hansen were fully dedicated to what was soon to be New Politics, Amaliel seemed to not be as sure of the project. Boyd explained that everything happened for the band so quickly that the drummer didn’t have any time to think about what he wanted, so it was for the best that
Amaliel leave the band. Once the band was short a drummer, a situation of fate and chemistry went into play, and that’s when Vecchio became an official member of New Politics. “We met him [Louis] about two and a half years ago through a mutual friend who we met in New York who was working with us, actually, and had worked with him [Louis] and been on tour with him in the past. He [the mutual friend] told Louis that we were looking for a drummer because our old drummer never really figured out if he wanted to be in the band or not. It wasn’t on a personal level, but he [Amaliel] had his own band and his own stuff, and for us it happened so [quickly] that he tagged along and next thing we knew we were in America. He didn’t even know if he wanted to be in the long haul for this because he never really had a chance to decide, so he eventually went back to Denmark. We were looking for a drummer, and we met Louis. We had an audition and stuff and the chemistry worked perfectly and musically. And then we did our first tour with him, and the chemistry was great also on a personal level, and we’ve become close friends. That worked really well for us,” Boyd tells us. When it comes to their sound, the guys in New Politics all grew up with varying musical influences. Boyd tells us that being half Scandinavian from his mother’s side and half American from his father’s side really played a big role in what he grew up listening to, along with his extensive dance background. “Growing up, my mom is Scandinavian, so it’s way more poporiented there. She comes from a big pop background with all the basics, you know, like Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Genesis, of course Madonna, ABBA and that whole scene. Any pop song was something she listened to, and I always heard that. And then my
dad is American. I never lived here or anything, and I moved here three years ago when things started happening with the band, but I’m somewhat American because my father is. [Laughs] But my dad would listen to things like Led Zepplin, The Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, y’know all of the edgier sounds. And then of course as I was growing up, I was very inspired by the 2000’s, sort of the aftermath of grunge and even a lot of grunge as well. I was street dancing a lot and that was my thing. I was never a fan of bands and it was more like I would get mix tapes that were a big mix of everything that DJs would mash-up. It would be like an a cappella of Led Zepplin with a break beat under it or something. So I had a lot of that kind of stuff as influence and part of the whole electronic scene that was becoming very popular because I was dancing,” Boyd says. Now that Boyd has given up his dance aspirations for a fulltime music career, he feels as though he has become much more educated on the topic of music and now at least recognizes the artists he’s been listening to for years. “In more recent years, where I’ve taken music really serious, I’ve had incidents where I’m like ‘oh my god, that’s Rage Against The Machine?’ and I realized I always loved that song but never knew it was Rage Against The Machine. Or Beastie Boys, or Led Zepplin, or Iron Maiden or whatever it is. It’s funny how it all pulls together, and it also made me realize how much music I have in the back of my head, subconsciously without knowing. It’s where my thoughts and ideas come from; it’s where that whole universe of having this music in the back of your mind and taking inspiration from is, and you know it inside out with all the details,” Boyd explains. His band mates Hansen and Vecchio have helped Boyd out in learning the ropes of the music industry, and it seems as though
Boyd’s musical catalog has broadened since knowing his band mates. Hansen pulls his inspiration from edgier artists like Pantera, Black Sabbath and Nirvana, while still having a good ear for artists who produce catchy melodies like Ace of Base. As for Vecchio, Boyd says that as a drummer, he is the master of all musical genres. “Louis is probably the one that is a rock kid, but he’s the one who if we’re in a car, he probably knows every song that’s on the radio. It doesn’t matter what song it is because he’s a drummer. I’ve realized that with all drummers! [Laughs] I don’t know what it is, but they just know all music. Radio people, and drummers know everything about music. Anytime our radio promoter comes out on the road with us, him and Louis are singing the words to every single song. Doesn’t matter what genre it is,” Boyd tells us of Vecchio’s musical IQ. As for moving to the states, Boyd tells us that he and Hansen felt a mix of emotions about leaving their childhood homes in Denmark to come to America. They had this once in a lifetime opportunity thrown in their laps, and knew they couldn’t pass it up. “It was a very mixed, emotional thing for us. On one side you have this opportunity; you’re signed to a major label in America.
American music and culture has inspired Søren and I so much in our youth, and this opportunity is just beyond heard of; it’s a chance in a lifetime. You have this joy and excitement, and this will to just make the best out of it, and then you come over to this country and you start from scratch. You let go of everything you’ve built through your childhood and teenage years back home and you abandon your family and everything. But when you come here it’s an entirely different ballgame because nothing is ever really what it seems. You compare reality with an idea. So we moved over here all excited, and then we signed a contract, but nothing really changes and that’s where the work really starts,” Boyd says. Instead of getting to enjoy the experience of being in a new country, New Politics went straight to work and began touring off of their debut self-titled album for the first year and a half they were in the states. Boyd tells us that the band “never really even got a chance to experience America because all we did was tour around to different cities everyday.” After that long year and a half of being on the road in a completely foreign country, the band realized the lifespan of the first album was over, and it was time to move on to their next project. Boyd tells us in regard to the first album, “Swallowing the hard and sad truth that it’s done is an emotional thing, but you also have to look at it as it’s the end to a new beginning, and you can better and grow from the experience. I mean on the first album, it took like a month or two to accept that that was it. I was so proud of it and grew very attached to it because it’s a reflection of you, so that was a hard thing definitely.” With a solid lineup and idea of where the root of their eclectic sound comes into play, the band knew it was time to start writing a sophomore album. Their most recent release, A Bad Girl In Harlem, was born, but not without struggle. While the album has an upbeat flare to it, Boyd tells us that there is a bit of a dark side to the album based on their lives at the time they were writing and producing the album. The struggle to survive versus the stresses of writing a new album began to take a toll on the band, and that was reflected in parts of their sound this time around. “The last five months before we released A Bad Girl In Harlem we ran completely out of money. We were living off Ramen Noodles and we were just barely getting by. I had to make deals with our landlord to pay the rent, and it was some of the most horrible conditions. And we come from the culture shock in everything from the food, to the social personalities of people in America compared to Denmark. From the smallest things like approaching a woman; it’s all just so different. This is a country of the survival of the fittest. In Denmark if you’re in trouble, you can go to the government and get help. You begin to realize how big the small things mean to you— like being able to go home to your parents, getting a warm dinner, and communicating some attention and love. All those small things play a role, and then if you add onto that not having any money and the pressure of writing an album. When you’re writing an album you shouldn’t have that pressure because it should be a creative period and a time where you don’t have to think; it should just be about that expression that you’re doing at that moment. It was really tough for us, and it really boiled down to show much shit can you take, and how much can you persevere. I think that’s the biggest thing for all bands, and I think the one thing that helps and helped us through the whole process is our love and our willingness to believe in it.
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That made all [of] the struggle less of a distraction, and it kept us creative and not worried all the time about outside forces. Now that we look back at it and the album is out and we’ve had all this success coming in, all [of] that struggle had a meaning and it makes sense now. And hopefully it’s just the beginning of it, you know? It was definitely a big culture shock for us, and with the album we just had to go back to the core of everything, and when that happened everything started to go smoothly. As much as the album is energetic, there’s also a dark side to the album with everything we had going on,” Boyd explains to us. Once the album was out, though, everything started to look up for the trio. Their single “Harlem” hit the radio, and they started to see the dedication they put into their career pay off. Unexpected things came their way, and they couldn’t be happier about the outcome. “We thought the response to our first album was good but this is just beyond anything we ever thought would happen. It’s only the beginning too because it’s our first single, it’s already on the charts and the album is doing well. When we started on this album we had like 3,000 Twitter followers and after being on tour now for five months with Fall Out Boy and doing radio stuff, we’re at like 12,000 now. That just shows the response in comparison to the first album, and it’s just like…wow. We really hit something good with this. It shows that we have developed a lot and we have grown, which is so important for an artist I think,” Boyd says. This period in the band’s career has become the highlight for them, because as Boyd said, it’s only the beginning. They know there is more to anticipate, and the fans are the most important thing that have gotten them to this point. Boyd shares his excitement about it all by telling us, “Knowing that you have a number five [song on the charts] and it’s only the beginning is just like…whoa. We might just be scraping the top of the iceberg. And then seeing the response and our fan base grow, because that’s one of the most important things. We try to interact as much as we can on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and stuff like that, and we always try to come out and see them when we play shows, even if it takes an hour. Seeing that grow and being able to touch so many people is such a highlight in our life and it means everything to us.” New Politics have been through definite ups and downs throughout their career so far, but at this point, it looks like things are going to stay on the up for them. They know that they are just getting started as a band, and at the end of the day, they are just normal people like you and I. Between the exuberant amount of energy they put into their live performances to the passion you can hear in their voices when they spoke to us about their new album, it’s easy to see the genuine excitement New Politics have about their newfound success. While some artists let quick success go to their heads, the guys in New Politics have kept solid heads on their shoulders and plan to keep their goofy, lively personalities intact. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We know at the end of the day we’re no different than you or the person in the crowd. We’re just grateful that we’re able to do what we love and touch people because we know how that feels and we’ve been touched by music and a kind word.” PHOTOS: Ashley Osborn INTERVIEW & STORY: Anjel Lopez
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“IT SHOWS THAT WE HAVE DEVELOPED A LOT AND WE HAVE GROWN, WHICH IS SO IMPORTANT FOR AN ARTIST I THINK.”
WORDS: Perry Fish
TASTE OF CHICAGO THE ANNUAL TASTE OF CHICAGO IS A WEEKEND-LONG FESTIVAL, great for sampling food and drink from all over the city. What could be better? Add great music into the mix! This year the concert portion of the festival was kicked off by the high-energy, indie-pop band Fun.
Wednesday evening opened with California natives, Delta Spirit. Their rock infused sound was the perfect starter to get the crowd warmed up. When Fun. was preparing to make their way to the Petrillo stage, thousands of eager fans who snatched up reserved seating to the sold out show, crowded closer to the front. The setting sun was perched just over the arch of the stage, illuminating the entire scene in a warm, summer glow. Fun. opened the set with “One Foot.” Front man, Nate Ruess, looked right at home, moving about the stage and interacting with the audience. At one point he even took a moment to shout out to the sea of people beyond the reserved seating gate, joking, “Those must be the free seats.” The entertaining commentary continued to the introduction of “Barlights.” Ruess started a contagious laughter after changing the beginning lyrics to “Never in all my life have I seen eyes as empty as the Taste of Chicago.” He laughed, “I have never done that before.” Cannons of white confetti marked the middle of the set. “Carry On” had the crowd singing every lyric and swaying in happiness. “We Are Young” was the perfect ending song. The entire crowd chanted to the chorus, as Ruess encouraged even the people in the back to sing. Oversized beach balls were thrown out into the crowd, bouncing off of outstretched arms. Even the mayor, who attended the concert, took part in the fun. It was like one big party, just for Chicago. An encore was unavoidable and Fun. delivered with another powerful single, “Some Nights.” Due to the strict curfew of the festival, the band exited the stage after finishing and the crowd began to dissipate. Even so, most of the crowd stayed put, chanting for more. To everyone’s surprise Fun. appeared again for a second encore with “All Alright.” As the sun began to set, creating a picture perfect silhouette of the skyline behind the stage, one couldn’t help but relate to those closing lyrics. It was all alright, even if just for that one night of music, food and celebrating a city brought together.
reviews artist: The Dangerous Summer album: Golden Record rating:
Sounds like: Transit Brighten Lydia
Recommended tracks: “Sins: “We Will Wait In The Fog” “Anchor”
Tracks: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Catholic Girls Sins Drowning Knives We Will Wait In The Fog Miles Apart Into The Comfort I’m So Pathetic Anchor
Release date: August 6, 2013
When the opening track, “Catholic Girls,” was released in early June, fans were scrambling to their computers. It was then that I realized how anxious I was for this album to make it’s debut. Well, it’s safe to say The Dangerous Summer has done it again. Two years after their last release, War Paint, the four-piece has given birth to Golden Record. The album is truly a beautiful composition made up of ten hard-hitting and emotional ballads and after one listening left me everything but disappointed. The album’s second track, “Sins,” has to be the highlight of this album. Vocalist AJ Perdomo has always had not only an extraordinary vocal ability but writing ability as well. The band’s lyrics are more pure than most and I have to say that Golden Record takes this to an entirely new level. As he screams, “I’m living away from our love, I’m living away from our love,” you can feel the pain and struggle in his voice. Through all the flawlessness, there is one thing that bothered me about this album. I feel as if it doesn’t flow; it’s like a wave, up and down, back and fourth. I feel that after “Sins” the album slows down, blends together and I start to lose interest until “Miles Apart.” At last, we finally reach “Anchor.” This track and “Sins” have to be my two favorite songs lyrically on the entire album. Usually, bands end records with a mellow tune or a heavy hitter but to me, “Anchor,” says just enough in a subtle way. Golden Record is an easy listen for a long drive or a mellow night at home. It’s compassionate and it leaves you wanting more. But it’s The Dangerous Summer, what do you really expect? Which only leaves me questioning one thing, “Why is this band not bigger than they are?” Only time will tell.
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REVIEW: Ashley Osborn
Artist: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros Album: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros is a simple band with a complex name. Their free world style and carefree music is the reflection of a band that simply wants to create music that makes people so happy, they dance around barefoot! With the release of their second self-titled album, it’s obvious there is more to this group than just a name. This twelve-track album is introduced by the wonderfully instrumental single “Better Days.” Mostly composed of echoed wails and trumpet solos, it’s the perfect way to slip back into the soulful comfort of their music. Like putting on your winter boots after the first snowfall of the season, it just feels right. The combination of the lead vocals of Alex and Jade are exceptionally haunting with the psychedelic guitar riffs in “Please!” Unmistakably a plea to the current generations, this song focuses on peace, war, and nature. Envious of your parents “sticking it to the man” with radical movements in the ‘70’s? Just listening to this song will make you feel like you are a part of a significant cause! If you don’t listen carefully to the intricate message encoded in each song, it can be easy to dismiss Edward Sharp and The Magnetic Zeros as a band whose songs all sound the same. Acknowledging this possibility, I would say, much like a dear friend, they are there for comfort, the background music to a lazy Sunday at home.
recommended tracks: “Life is Hard” & “In The Summer” review: Perry Fish
Artist: Nick Santino & The Northern Wind Album: Coming Home EP The alternative rock community suffered a fatality with the break up of A Rocket To The Moon this summer, but the country-rock community was introduced to the birth of a new solo artist to soften the blow. Ex frontman, Nick Santino had no hesitations when rapidly transitioning from his band of almost seven years to create his current project, Nick Santino & The Northern Wind, to release a four track EP titled Coming Home. “Sold My Soul” tells the struggle a musician feels when experiencing homesickness and missing out on things at home while on the road. There is so much emotion in Santino’s voice that can be heard in every tremor and phrase of his voice. Twangy guitars, banjos and quivering vocals are all the emblems for country music, and Santino taps right into his inner backwoods country influence. Living in Tennessee has without a doubt carved a new style for him as an artist from his days of the pop love ballads of his former years. Coming Home is four songs of foot tapping, tranquil, emotional narratives of personal experience that reflect the dawn of a new day for Santino on his new musical journey.
recommended tracks: “Miss Virginia” & “Sold My Soul” review: Haley Black
Artist: Yellowcard Album: Ocean Avenue Acoustic It’s been 10 years since Yellowcard put out their infamous album Ocean Avenue, so it seemed fitting when the band announced they would be releasing an acoustic version for the anniversary. Yellowcard could not have produced a better sounding acoustic album. It sounds identical to the original minus the electric instruments. The acoustic versions give Sean Mackin’s violin playing skills a stand out role and diversify the acoustic sound. Listening to the songs will feel nostalgic, like seeing an old friend you’ve lost touch with and remembering all the good times you shared together. The fact that the band decided to revisit this album just shows their love for it, as it is the album that launched their career. If you’re a fan of the original album, Ocean Avenue Acoustic will not disappoint.
recommended tracks: “Only One,” “Way Away” and “Ocean Avenue” review: Jessica Klinner
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Published on Aug 11, 2013
Published on Aug 11, 2013
Featuring: New Politics, Relient K, Andrew McMahon, Cover Drive, This Century, Jocelyn, Hello Highway, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, O' Broth...