THE 1975 – BAD SUNS – CASSIO MONROE – THE DODOS – CAGE THE ELEPHANT & MORE
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editor-in-chief jenn stookey
co-founder â€“ art director cara bahniuk co-founder â€“ photographer ashley osborn copy editor courtney dondelinger co-founder mckenzie hughes contributing photographers
cara bahniuk, matt burke, dan deslover, brendon donahue, courtney dondelinger, tarina doolittle, jordan fischels, brad heaton, megan leetz, anjel lopez, nicole mago, charlie martel, david mullis, laura murray, ally newbold, ashley osborn, heather phillips, petey place, danny raybon, sam roenfeldt, sam san roman, daniel shippey and amy willard
contributing writers (online & publication)
christina belles, haley black, jennifer boylen, colleen casey, madison convey, rebecca del castillo, trevor figge, tamara fuentes, jessica klinner, catt kruger, daisy marietta, zoe marquedant, theresa pham, ryan bahniuk, annette schaefer, alyssa schmidt, elizabeth tolbert, abby welsh and nick yacovazzi
digital marketing team
olivia adams, kelly basdavanos, geoff burns, rachel carter, megan shea and catie suliga
caroline hall, brad laplante, jordyn lockwood, megan shea and sydney wirkus
_________________________ www.highlightmagazine.net facebook facebook.com/highlightmagazine twitter @highlightzine instagram @highlightzine _________________________ thank you
birdy, ilana gold, atlantic records, behind the curtains media, big picture media, boyd creative group, canvas media, fearless records, fred croshal, new community management, press here publicity, the catalyst publicity group, vagrant records, and all of our wonderful readers!
_________________________ 06 birdy jordan fischels
07 bad suns jordan fischels
chiodos ashley osborn
cage the elephant provided
cassio monroe jordan fischels
the 1975 maysa askar
the dodos charlie martel
emarosa ashley osborn HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 3
05 this or that 08 clothing highlight 10 label highlight 11 venue highlight 12 highlighted artists 13 film highlight 15 industry highlight 16 bad suns 20 cassio monroe 22 the dodos 26 cage the elephant 28 birdy 36 tour round up chiodos emarosa the 1975 foster the people 44 reviews
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BIRDY - 28
CHIODOS - 36
CASSIO MONROE - 20
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THE DODOS - 22
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26 - CAGE THE ELEPHANT
40 - THE 1975
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CATCH ONTO THESE TRENDS
COMPANY: Drop The Anchor Clothing LOCATION: Melbourne, Australia STAFF: Branden Eddy - Owner, designer and supply chain manager
Crystal Lee - Owner, financial director and customer service manager WEBSITE: dtaclothing.bigcartel.com
HOW DID DROP THE ANCHOR START?
Eddy and I had just finished a year at RMIT University together studying primary teaching, when we realized we had no idea what we were doing! We were looking for a way out, and so told our parents we were going to start a business, little did we know this business was soon going to become a full time job! We started with absolutely no knowledge of running a business, but we have learned a lot along the way and we like to think we know what we’re doing now (but I’m not so sure we do!).
Social media has been a huge help in getting our products out there, as we now have over 43,000 followers on Instagram, and over 20,000 on Facebook.
THREE PERSONAL FAVORITE DESIGNS?
1) Classic tall tees (circle logo front and back), our best selling product! 2) Our skateboard decks, made from 7-ply Canadian Maplewood, the quality is amazing, they’re the only decks I skate! 3) Our tie-dye tall tees, they can be spotted from a mile away!
I still remember our very first order for 100 shirts, where we both spent our life savings (about $800), in hopes the shirts would sell. Within the first five minutes of the website going online, we sold a shirt to our first customer in Sydney, and we couldn’t believe it!
WHY PEOPLE SHOULD CHECK OUT YOUR BRAND?
Fast-forward two years, to now and we have 1500 shirts arriving per order, with our stock now taking over our entire lounge room and hallway!
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We offer unique street wear with top quality, at an affordable price! We understand that paying $60 for a shirt is ludicrous, so our tees are priced between $25-$35.
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YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO...
Artists past and present on the Los Angeles record label founded in 1996 have been nothing but impressive. The manager of Face To Face, Rich Egan, had a specific vision when creating the label, which is currently headed by President Jon Cohen. Previous artists such as Dashboard Confessional, The Get Up Kids, Saves The Day, and Alkaline Trio are just a few of the big-name artists who are Vagrant Records alumni. Even The Replacements front man, Paul Westerberg, went on to release solo material through the illustrious record label. Nowadays, Vagrant primarily takes on endowed indie artists who embody a unique idiosyncrasy. The 1975, Bad Suns, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Placebo, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are just a few of the many lavish artists who are signed by the label.
BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB - Straight out of North London,
Bombay Bicycle Club (named after a restaurant chain) began their journey as young teens that later entered and won a battle of the bands type competition. This victory was the launchpad for numerous label offers, leading into the creation of two EPs and four full-length albums, yet the group was still able to complete their educations. The quartet’s style is an array of genres blended into one, with a majority of upbeat tracks that have been heavily influenced from touring around the world and soaking in cultural traditions. Exotic instruments such as the marimba are used frequently to add another dimension of character. Their hit single, “Shuffle” even features a ragtime piano intro that gives the song, like many of their others, an identity of its own. Fans of Two Door Cinema Club, Vampire Weekend, and Arctic Monkeys will be shocked if they have not heard of the indie rock band before.
Listen to: “Shuffle”
CALIFORNIA WIVES - The power and influence of music has
always been considered strong, but it was powerful enough for lead vocalist/ keyboardist, Jayson Kramer, to abandon his education in pre-med to pursue his true dream of creating music. This life changing decision was what created the Chicago-based indie rock group. At first listen, California Wives sounds like the type of band one would hear in an Urban Outfitter’s dressing room. Keep listening, and this stereotype will soon be washed away. Like many bands today, there seems to be a trend with the mixture of alternative rock and electronic music, which has created a melting pot of genres. California Wives have molded their style by playing traditional instruments while adding a modern twist with the use of synthesizers. With only their debut album, Art History, under their belt, it will be interesting to see how future releases will add to the band’s style and if it will change or remain solidified.
Listen To: “Purple”
JAMES VINCENT MCMORROW -
This indie solo artist would file under the category of indie folk with striking similarities to artists such as Bon Iver and Iron and Wine. McMorrow’s silvery voice commonly carries over a subtle piano ditty and steady backbeat in each of his individual tracks. There is a certain whimsy with the use of various instrumentations including: horns, harps, cymbals, and synthesizers coupled with his falsetto and intertwining harmonies. His discography is compiled of three major releases: Early In The Morning, the We Don’t Eat EP, featuring a phenomenal cover of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love,” and his 2014 sophomore album, Post Tropical. With a new album, television performances, and a spot on the Coachella lineup, 2014 has been and will continue to be McMorrow’s year. The eccentric artist stands out among others in his genre and has the talent to hang up with some of the biggest names in indie music.
Listen to: “Cavalier” 10 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
WORDS: Haley Black
VENUE HIGHLIGHT EXIT/IN - NASHVILLE, TN
Exit/In was one of the first rock venues in Nashville. It gets its name from its famous entrance at the back of the venue. Since opening in 1971, Exit/In has had its fair share of ups and downs, as well as a variety of owners and expansions, but the venue continues its legacy by providing memorable live shows with a notable history to back it up.
WHY PLAY HERE?
Exit/In is a local legend. The venue has hosted a variety of artists from Johnny Cash to the Ramones to Jimmy Buffet to Etta James, as well as popular comedians such as Steve Martin. Itâ€™s perfectly located in a trendy neighborhood just west of downtown Nashville near Vanderbilt campus. Its capacity of 500 and black-box theater style make this venue the perfect place for intimate and intense shows.
TWITTER: @exit_in FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/ExitIn WEBSITE: exitin.com JUNE 26TH
The Black Lips
REVIEW: Elizabeth Tolbert
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ARTISTS ANSON LI Location: Los Angeles, CA/New York, NY Current Single: “Hope”
Anson Li is a solo alternative rock artist who is trying to shine through everyone else by just being himself. Switching back and forth between Los Angeles and New York City, Li is finding his way in the songwriting world and turning his musical endeavors that were once a hobby into a profession.
COSMONAUT Location: New York, NY Current Single: “Radio Silence” Members: Jack Manley – Vocals/Guitar, Daniel Quinn – Guitar, Brendan Picone – Bass, Tom McIntyre – Drums Northeastern four piece, Cosmonaut, have no problem concocting home-made melodies. Based out of New York City, the band takes pop-rock songwriting styles mixed with Shoegaze influenced guitar textures to create a bona fide indie-pop experience.
THE LOVEBIRDS Location: San Diego, CA Current Single: “Boat Train” Members: Lindsay White – Vocals/Guitar/Ukulele/Drums, Veronica May – Vocals/Guitar/Ukulele/Drums Folk/Pop duo, The Lovebirds, create a whirlwind of excitement both on the stage and off. Hailing from San Diego, CA, these girls draw from influences such as The Indigo Girls and Tegan and Sara. The duo’s range of musical talent and their eccentric personalities create a flair that can’t be matched. After all, not many bands can pull off bow ties and glockenspiels.
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WORDS: Nick Yacovazzi
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS
The National are a band of brothers. There’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner plus Bryan and Scott Devendorf. The fifth member, lead singer, Matt Berninger is the only one without a family member in the band. Enter his metal head younger brother, Tom. An amateur filmmaker, the younger Berninger took his brother on as a subject of his latest film Mistaken For Strangers. The documentary, which came out earlier this year, charts a long leg of The National’s European tour, their largest to date. At his brother’s invitation, Tom Berninger tagged along, in true younger sibling fashion, as a filmie turned roadie. He never however sets down the camera. Constantly shooting, Tom accumulates hours of footage. There are shots of the band performing, shots of the different cities and the occasional mirror-selfie of Tom. He collects moments on tour rarely seen by the concertgoer including a band member in the shower and his sister-in-law waiting backstage. During this entire filming Tom shirks his roadie duties. In the movie, Tom is shown eagerly filming whilst other members of the crew fidget with soundboards and prep for the shows. He hurries, camera still in hand, to perform his share of the tasks, but not without stepping on a few toes as he goes. The reactions of his subjects range from comical to annoyed. The viewer benefits from this his almost intrusive style of filming. We are given the perspectives and opinions of a wide cast, building an increasingly complete picture of band, band members and brother. In a later scene, Tom unrelentingly grills his own mother on her opinion of Matt’s success verses his own. Throughout Mistaken For Strangers Tom gets in the literal faces of everyone asking questions ranging from personal drug use to thoughts on the band. He picks up on moods and moments less observant filmmaker would have missed. Perhaps it is Tom’s personal connection to his subject matter that gives him such a uniquely perceptive view. He investigates the band from every angle and yet somehow increasingly less about the band. Strangely enough the most present character during all this is the filmmaker himself. Through mirror shots, voice-overs and something that amounts to a presence, Tom appears in the film more so than the band. The subject seems to shift organically from the elder brother to the younger as the band plays city after city. Tom’s story about the band becomes more a story of himself. With a humor and style reminiscent of mockumentries like Spinal Tap, Tom carries the viewer through his unraveling career as a roadie, documenting his mistakes along side his brother’s successes. His narrative develops the introspective precision of a personal essay as we see the filmmaker trying to find his niche in the indie rock world. At first standing in the shadow of his brother and the band, Tom seems to dwarf. Standing beside his brother Tom is the less svelte of the two, but as the film reveals still an endearingly personable creator. His early attempts at horror films and childhood drawings, which feature briefly in the movie, show a well-defined aesthetic and strong voice that are brought to light by Mistaken For Strangers. He is an unexpected main character. An early shot of Tom walking across a lawn, pulling off a work glove with his stringy blonde hair falling just shy of shoulder length is a telling image. What the viewer misses in this shot, but learns throughout the film is that Tom is a creative force. When compared to the footage of Matt crumpling into his mic stand, Tom seems unassuming. There’s a family resemblance, but little else crossover. Intermittent pictures of the two as youngsters and interviews with their parents are perhaps the only proof that they are part of the same family. And yet the Berninger brothers do share more than blood. Mistaken For Strangers contains the same unabashedly honest look at the self as a National song does. Matt Berninger’s lyrics and Tom Bernigner’s films are equally devastating in how forthcoming they are. There is so much honesty and self that the viewer forgets about the tour and the band and the new album. Mistaken For Strangers wraps you up, breaks your heart, splits your sides and leaves you wondering whom the film is really about. Tom Berninger manges to make a film about The National into a harrowing tale of brotherly love and family ties without his audience even noticing. REVIEW: Zoe Marquedant
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INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHT NAME: Fred Croshal LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA with satellite offices in Austin, TX and San Diego, CA CURRENT ROSTER: New Found Glory, Candy Hearts, What’s Eating Gilbert, Sad Robot, and Magnets and Ghosts
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STORY/WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE INDUSTRY? I’ve been in the industry
37+ years, and I got into it because of my love and passion for music. I started as a teenager working in a record store and after years of that I went to work for CBS records distribution, worked in a variety of positions and basically went up the ladder and moved to the label side of things. I was a Vice President of sales and was Vice President of sales and marketing. I ran the day-to-day activities for Madonna’s record company Mavericks. Then, I started my own business, which is both a management and marketing firm.
WHAT DOES A NORMAL DAY LOOK LIKE TO AN ARTIST MANAGER LIKE YOUR SELF? I have to laugh
because I would start by saying no day is a normal day nor is it ever the same. There’s a mirage of phone calls, hundreds of emails, and it’s at a rapid pace. I could be speaking to a multitude of different people involving touring, merchandising, record sales, or recording and it’s endless.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL AN ASPIRING ARTIST MANAGER SHOULD HAVE? Communication skills. The manager role is one that they
have to really orchestrate a team of people and execute on behalf of the artist, so being able to communicate well with artists. Artists for the most part are very creative so you have to interpret a lot of vision and artist’s feelings, and it really is communication directly with that.
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE ROLE OF AN ARTIST MANAGER CHANGE OVER THE YEARS? It’s changed
on behalf of the artist. At one point it was very targeted and there was a handful of areas to go after to create opportunities. A manager’s job and role now is dealing with ten times the bases that we used to cover. However, with that are better opportunities. So you have to be up to speed in a quick changing environment. That has been the biggest change.
WHAT ARE THREE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CAREER MOMENTS? Sitting down and having dinner with
Bruce Springsteen. Being not only interviewed by Madonna not only at her home, but then being hired by her after that interview to orchestrate the day-to-day activities at Mavericks for seven years. After being a contracted employee for many years and working for others, establishing my own company, and that was 11 years ago.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH? So much more! Anybody that knows me and my
passion as far as accomplishments go, I can look back and reflect on what I’ve been apart of and being apart of, such as two of the top five selling records of all time. But what I want to continue to accomplish day in and day out are personal targets, whether it be developing a band that we currently manage and getting them to the next level, getting #1 on the sales chart or getting #1 on the radio chart. Those are all things that I continue to be driven by. Whether it is developing somebody, taking a management and or marketing client and achieving great results and chart numbers and success, that’s the kind of accomplishments that define me, and that will never end. It will never be “this is enough.”
in that there’s many more bases to cover. That has expanded dramatically and it continues to change almost daily. With that being said, it’s not a complaint; there are just more and more opportunities
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HOME: Los Angeles, CA NOW JAMMING: Language And Perspective – June 24th release
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FOR MANY BANDS, IT MAY TAKE YEARS
or even a lifetime to gain the opportunity to perform on national television. But it only took two years for the Los Angeles band Bad Suns to perform their current single “Cardiac Arrest” on TBS’ show Conan. While the success seems like it happened to the band on a short amount of time, it actually took years for the members to get to where they are now in their career. Members of the four-piece group met each other by playing in bands together and apart from each other for several years and by being involved with the music community in the Los Angeles area. When front man Christo Bowman was younger, he was driven but lacked direction. He picked up a guitar because it was something other kids his age didn’t seem to be involved in. It’s been ten years since the member of the band first started playing guitar and when Bad Suns practiced together for the first time, “a special thing happened.” “It felt like a real band, rather than just four dudes jamming, and we all recognized what was happening,” Bowman said. “It’s been such a gradual build for us, whether it seems that way or not. There hasn’t been a single day, in the past ten years, where I wasn’t playing in a band. The same is mostly true for everyone else as well. Even still, we can’t believe that we’ve gotten to a point where we can go on tour and have people hear our music on the radio.” Even when the band isn’t on tour, music still has a way of making its way into the daily routine for the members. Before the band started touring, they would practice songs in a rehearsal room. When the band is on tour, all of the rehearsal takes place in a van and that’s something Bowman said they “can’t take for granted” when it comes to playing music with your best friends. As if traveling the world and playing music with your best friends isn’t enough, watching people sing their own songs is an entire different feeling. Bad Suns’ “Cardiac Arrest,” a song featured on the debut album Language And Perspective coming out on June 24, has provided the band with that experience after they released the track on their own after their previous manager told them the band wasn’t going to get anywhere with it. “We played in a town we had never been to, where they were playing our song on the local radio station,” Bowman said. “People were singing along, and we were so confused. I remember turning to Ray during an instrumental break, and we both kind of gave each other this mutual look of ‘What the fuck is happening right now?’ It’s been great.” Bad Suns recently finished recording their 11-song debut album Language And Perspective on Vagrant Records and Bowman said the band has zero expectations about the reception from people after they listen because that takes the fun out of it all. He said the members are excited to see what happens as they continue to work on their music. “We put a lot of time and care into it, and at the same time, a lot of the special moments on it were instantaneous and sporadic moments of recording,” Bowman said. “That’s the plus side to recording the whole band live, you can capture some real magic. We’re perpetually collecting ideas and writing music for our next album, this keeps us from experiencing major writers block.” 18 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
After the band’s release, they are going to keep writing and recording music but there is one thing the band tries to keep in mind and that’s being open to constructive criticism because it seems to have worked for them so far in their career. “No matter how great you think what you’ve created is, there’s always someone who’s not going to like it,” Bowman said. “Realizing that, and also not letting it negatively affect your process, is something very important.” PHOTOS: Jordan Fischels INTERVIEW & STORY: Geoff Burns
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HOME: Nashville, TN NOW JAMMING: “Under The Lights” CURRENTLY: Busy creating their album!
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THERE’S HARDLY ANYTHING
more exciting than going on tour with up and coming bands, especially when your band is trying to make a name for itself. Just stepping off the stage from a tour with Midnight Red and The Wanted, Cassio Monroe is starting to get some well-deserved attention. Never experiencing anything on that scale before, they met some great new friends in the bands and the crew. The best part was probably how amazed they were by the fans. Surely, a tour they will remember forever. After the release of their single “Under The Lights” earlier this year, the guys have kept busy writing. For them, the process is a little bit of everything – working separately and together to create. Sometimes they each come up with ideas that are partially complete and then work with one another, collaborating, “molding the ideas together like two clothes of play-doh.” Other times, they use technology to their advantage, by using voice memos or text messaging. What’s important to them is that each song has its unique challenges and as a team, they try to give it everything they can to find the intricacies of each one. As with any artist, there may be hundreds of songs that never get heard, but they are used as an opportunity to learn, which makes them special in their own way. Since their music doesn’t quite fit into one specific genre, and definitely has the unique vibe they seemed to aim for, there was a natural curiosity about their goals setting out. Like many bands, they didn’t choose a genre intentionally. They started creating the music they wanted to make and landed near the pop genre. But like they so smartly pointed out, pop is changing. Five years ago you wouldn’t have heard The Lumineers, Katy Perry, and Imagine Dragons back to back on the radio, but today you do. Their excitement about evolving with the music that surrounds us is impressive. They’re also smart enough to know that time and place matters in your success as a musician. With many different musical inspirations, such as Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, The Beatles, and Amy Winehouse, they find something special in
music that can pull an unwarranted feeling out of them. Speaking of Justin Timberlake, he’s also on the guys’ list of artists they would love to collaborate with, along with Adam Levine, T.I., and Ryan Teddar. And the guys wouldn’t take it for granted either, it’s not just about fame or novelty, they would hope to soak up what those experienced artists would have to say and teach them. Beyond the unique rapping and singing combo that Cassio Monroe has going for them, what they believe sets them apart is how much they put into each song. They’re very involved with thinking about exactly where the song is going and what the production is going to sound like. Every little detail matters to them, making for music they’re truly passionate and proud about. Even their name comes from two completely different things that you wouldn’t expect to work together, but they somehow make sense, just like the two of them. Cassio is a character from Shakespeare’s Othello, and Marilyn Monroe inspired the other half of their name. Half is the whit of a playwright and the other half confidence, beauty, and the “it factor” that captivated the country. They only hope to harness a little bit from each of those muses. And the fact that in Nashville there aren’t a lot of artists making the type of music they are, it made it a lot easier to find an audience. As it goes for most anyone trying to pursue a career, especially one in music, it’s a difficult feat. It takes a lot of pushing through, trial and error, meeting the wrong people, before you can finally come together and find success with one another the way that Cassio Monroe has. Of course, they still have hiccups now and then, and know that the hardest is yet to come, but they’re fortunate to have mostly fun and games along the way. Now that they know one another, and know each other’s strengths, they’re able to compromise and stay positive when things get difficult. The great thing about constantly creating is that you can grow a little bit all of the time. Even their single, “Under The Lights,” was a song they wrote about being under pressure of a life obstacle and pushing through until you conquer it. PHOTOS: Jordan Fischels INTERVIEW & STORY: Daisy Marietta
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HOME: San Francisco, CA NOW JAMMING: “Transformer” CURRENTLY: Getting ready to head overseas for a couple of shows
THE DODO BIRD MIGHT BE EXTINCT,
Even though they are currently on tour in the states, doesn’t mean that they’ll be here for that long. In fact, they are set to play in a couple of places around the world including the Paeredes De Coura Festival in Portugal. But that doesn’t stop them from wanting to explore the world even more.
“We chose this name because we like the story of the dodo bird,” said Meric Long, the band’s vocalist and guitarist.
“I’ve been hearing good things about Iceland,” said Meric.
but this band is not going anywhere. Even though they’ve released five albums already and have been together since 2006, these guys are still going strong and being better than ever.
“Are you familiar? It is tragic, cause it was a really nice animal. Do you eat chicken? Well, that’s what happened,” explained drummer Logan Kroeber. The idea of being a musician isn’t new to these guys, explaining that each of them dreamed of being a musician since they were young. “Yeah, it seem like a real pipe dream, I wouldn’t say ‘oh I want to play music professionally.’ But definitely the idea of playing with a band and touring was like childhood dream for sure,” said Logan. “For me I think it’s a common thing, a common disease [laughs]. Then when you grow older and you’re like, ‘why the hell did I think this was a good idea?’” said Joe Haege, the band’s touring vocalist and guitarist. “And your life passes you by and you’re left with no skills! It’s one of those diseases that everyone has, but maybe don’t know it and one day it expresses itself heavily for a few unlucky,” added Logan. Their childhood dreams have definitely come true and they continue to get influenced by their younger selves, especially in terms of what they hear. “I think between the three of us it’s [our influences] a wide array of terrible music. I would say, what we’ve been listening to on Sirius radio on the car has been a lot like the 90s station and the 80s station, songs that we all like grew up with,” said Meric. Clearly those influences have proven useful, especially now as they start of their tour with Neko Case. “We’ve done tours with her in the past; we toured The New Pornographers and three other bands. I remember we played this exact venue with that band! She asked us to go or we asked her, I don’t remember, but something happened! We had this relationship, this friendly relation. So far it has been super good,” says Meric. “It is by far, I think for all of us, it is the nicest group of people we’ve ever tour with. Everyone in our crew and her included is insanely nice,” added Joe.
“Mine would be Argentina, I don’t know why. I think the way they are a part of the first world but also in a completely different way,” said Joe. “You mainly wanna play countries because you can go there and see them. It’s not as much to do with the music, it’s just a chance to have a holiday and see great places. Sure we want to play good concerts, but we also want to have fun.” Even though they have been playing together for a while, doesn’t mean they don’t get nervous, especially on late night shows, recently playing on The Late Show with David Letterman. “We played a couple of late shows on TV and the end result, for me, it was my favorite. After we saw the result I was super stoked. I think maybe I’ve started feeling not quite so scared on this one cause the other two I was like floating in a cloud of disbelief and terror,” said Logan about the experience. “This one the cloud was still there, but starting to get less. We also put a lot of time to be ready for the show until the last minute.” Joe, however, had a much different experience. “For me it was also my first show with them, so I was completely floating in the cloud Logan was talking about, the terror and disbelief,” he explained. While many people may believe that playing on a late night show might be easy, Logan explained that things can go wrong at any moment. “We had to do a shorter version of our song! I always forget [that]. We had to rearrange the song to compress it into a TV show amount of time. So there was a lot of thing[s] that could have been wrong.” But, even then, Meric doesn’t rule out the idea of doing it again. “I think, well Letterman probably won’t be around by the time, if the time happens, that we get back there. I’m glad we did it like we did it,” he said. “That’s something about Letterman in particular too that’s more terrifying than other late night. Well maybe it’s just me but growing up, seeing him and watching the show as a kid. Then like being there is just extra terrifying. I think other late night show would be less like that.” Although identified as an indie band, the band describes itself as in your face. “#gladyourenotthere,” added Meric.
But even though they are going to be hitting up the east coast on their tour, they still can’t help but show their love for the west coast. “It’s easier to make U-turn there. You get more trapped on the roads on east coast. In that sense it is best cause you can just go on in a circle all day,” joked Logan.
The Dodos’ last album, Carrier, was released last year to amazing reviews and now the band is already working on their next album. When asked what we can expect on this new album compared to their last ones, Logan had just one word: “Bass.”
“There you can make mistake and cover them up. Here you’re left to live with your mistakes,” added Meric.
“You had bass in Carrier,” argued Joe. “But not big bass!” Logan replied, “But yeah, big bass, for a band that still has no bass. Well, physical bass. We try to push some of the frequencies.”
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“As an outside listener, cause I didn’t play on the previous one, I think this one is much more energetic than Carrier,” said Joe. If you happen to catch The Dodos on tour, you might even have a chance to hear something new in their set. “The crowd response has been really good so far. That something we’re pretty stoked about too,” says Logan. But while touring and traveling around the world may seem exciting, it can also cause some difficulty within the band members themselves. “I think the acclamation to the freedom of the road, as far as like the alcohol and partying and stuff [has been difficult]. All of us finding our balance and being able to enjoy ourselves but not taking overboard has been an ongoing struggle and difficult at times,” said Logan. “I’d say that for me, and probably for you guys too, being touring musicians money is very up and down,” adds Joe. “It influences also how you’re taking alcohol and drugs. You have to watch how you take out money, you have to really think about it, control it more. You don’t have these institutions to keep you in line.” But even though they have faced these issues while touring, they say that they have overcome them in one-way or another, especially Meric. “For me, the last year of touring I’ve started to like go and not drink on tour. It has been like a huge benefit. So for me that was like a big ‘Oh right, my lungs gain like five years!” But even with the downs of touring there are many great things that come along with it. “There was a show we did with the Magic Orchestra in San Francisco like a few years back. There was like a thirty piece orchestra and we were playing with them. They reworked our songs,” explained Meric. “We played for like an hour and a half of something crazy. It was like two hours but one hour and a half with them. It was just like a really huge thing! At the time I was like ‘I can’t believe this is going to happen. How is this going to happen?’ When it was done I thought ‘Wait, it happened and it wasn’t so terrible.’” “I still have the parking sticker of that show inside my van back home,” added Logan. And even as they continue on their journey as a band, Logan says that they have already achieved their dream. “My standards were pretty low so I had a lot of ‘Oh, it’s happening.’ I was telling another interviewer about this, that I had to reassert because five years ago there were like thing I wanted to accomplished and would be like ‘I would be happy that I’ve done this,” he said. “Now that we’re keeping going, being creative and still enjoyable, like simply to the fact of continuing to make music for our own enjoyment, a new benchmark is gonna have to materialize. I don’t know what it is be cause the first had much longer time to wait for, you know? Now that we’ve reached that plateau, like I don’t know what the next hill that we’re gonna take over us to reach that new goal.” “Dude, for me it’s not a hill. The new benchmark is just existing. Like a word,” said Meric. “We exist, and there won’t be a time that I’ll turn around and be like ‘Yes! We did it!’ We will just die and then it will be over. The benchmark will be out of sight.”
“When you achieved something you have transcended yet again. You can have your benchmarks but it’s hard to sit there and be like ‘’we did it!’ You still have to live,” added Joe. “You still have to wake up the next and fucking brush your teeth! And figure out why you’re still here,” said Logan. “I think it makes you appreciate things. It also makes you realize that what you thought was the goal, is just how you want to direct your life. And it usually requires much more work than you thought it would,” Joe expressed. No matter what their next goal is or what their next big accomplishment might be, we certainly are excited to see what these guys do next, especially in their new chapter as a band. PHOTOS: Charlie Martel INTERVIEW: Christina Belles STORY: Tamara Fuentes HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 25
HOME: Bowling Green, KY NOW JAMMING: Melophobia
MELOPHOBIA, BY DEFINITION,
means the fear of music. While it may seem strange that a band who creates music would title their third studio album after a word with such a meaning, Cage the Elephant do not take the term literally. To the native Kentucky indie rockers, the word symbolizes their fear of not presenting their music in a natural way. As lead singer Matt Shultz put it, “We don’t want to make music with secret agendas and underlying premeditated images of self. In other words, to write songs to be perceived as ‘intellectual’ or ‘poetic’ or ‘artistic’ or the worst ‘genius’ rather than a means to express oneself.” With a recognizable sound from 2008’s Cage The Elephant and 2011’s Thank You, Happy Birthday, the band aimed to break out of their shell and bring a more honest approach to their third release, Melophobia. The band achieved just that with songs that combine musical influences from the 60s, 70s and 80s. “It’s Just Forever” takes a page from The Beatles’ psychedelic songwriting playbook while “Take It Or Leave It” gleams with disco influences. “I think it’s our best effort yet concerning transparency and live energy. It’s defiantly the most freedom I’ve allowed myself with melody,” Shultz commented. 26 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
After spending years on the road, Cage the Elephant took a year off to relax and create the new album. For previous records, the band shared ideas, wrote together and was artistically on the same page. For the new record, all of the members spent several months writing on their own before bringing all of their ideas together to create Melophobia. “The challenge became cohesively marrying our sometimes polar opposite ideas while we were writing apart. [It] turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. It was an adversity that we didn’t know we needed,” Shultz recalled. Cage the Elephant is known for having an eccentric live show. Shultz often stage dives and walks on the crowd. It may seem a bit odd to newcomers, but fans have grown to expect these kind of crazy antics at Cage the Elephant shows. It’s part of what makes their live shows so intriguing. “We want to make music, write lyrics, and give people experiences that live in their hearts for life. We also want to speak to all of our fellow seekers. Not too much to ask, right?” Shultz said.
While most bands develop a certain sound by their third album, Cage the Elephant is still searching to find their niche. Each album has hints of the band’s previous work while still maintaining enough individuality to stand out in the discography. This is exactly what Shultz and the rest of Cage the Elephant want to accomplish while building their catalog. “I hope we never find ‘our’ sound. That sounds more like a prison than a place of revelation. With that being said, I do feel like we made some important discoveries pertaining to approach that we’ll always apply to the creative process no matter how our sound evolves,” Shultz stated. Melophobia captures the creativity of the band. Each of the songs possess a certain musicianship and distinct sound. Shultz’s lyrics are more open and convincing. Previously, it seemed as if there was an element of reality missing in the song lyrics. Shultz clearly eliminates the possibility of such a missing element on the new album. The songs tackle real issues that Shultz faced and with his honesty comes a great deal of believability. The album has many upbeat tracks like the disco-esque “Take It Or Leave It,” but it also has more serious moments found on the song “Telescope,” which deals with Shultz’s battle with a bout seasonal depression.
“It’s not the first time we’ve open up on a record but it is probably the most we’ve revealed of ourselves. With each record you learn how to peel back another layer,” Shultz commented. The album artwork for Melophobia goes along with the dreamlike aura the entire album gives off. The artist, Clint R. Colburn, is a long time friend of Shultz’s. The concept for the artwork came from Colburn’s interpretation of the album. The art captures a grotesque, distorted face with a melting quality that resembles the art of Salvador Dali. It’s fascinating to see the visual interpretation of a piece of music come together with the music itself to create a story and bring the album full circle. “Sometimes I wish I could take a stroll around in Clint’s brilliant mind,” Shultz gushed. Melophobia counters any phobia the band may have had about their music, featuring ten spunky, soulful and fearless tracks. They’ll have to move on to bigger and better fears because this one has officially been conquered. PHOTOS: Provided INTERVIEW & STORY: Jessica Klinner
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HOME: Hampshire, England NOW JAMMING: “Not About Angels” CURRENTLY: Just finished tour with Christina Perri and just released a new album Fire Within
THIS IS THE STORY OF A YOUNG WOMAN
who stepped accidentally into the limelight, but has handled it with the utmost grace. She may not have gone into the music industry with the hope to be famous, but her love for music and creation has certainly made her a household name. It’s common that musicians are inspired by the music they were brought up listening to, and for Birdy, that was a whole lot of classical music, as well as artists like Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, and KT Tunstall, brought to her by her father. It’s clear she was exposed to all sorts of different genres, which has inspired her sound in many different ways. Birdy’s goal has always simply been to make something she loves and put it out there, but despite not asking for “fame and fortune,” she’s felt extremely thankful to have so much building support and that other people enjoy her songs – surely a proud moment for such a humble artist. At the start of her career, it was difficult to balance school, music, and the constant travel, as anyone at a young age can imagine. But now that a few years have passed Birdy raves about how her success has been a steady arrow pointing up, “Things have just happened more gradually for me which has been nice, I’ve had time to find my feet.” Although she turned 18 in May, she hasn’t been 18 forever. In fact, the singer/songwriter was only 14 when she released her famous cover of Bon Iver’s top hit “Skinny Love.” As a young artist in the music industry, age can be brought up more and more as a deciding factor in an artist’s career aspirations. But Birdy doesn’t think about her age much, she tells us. “It’s wonderful to be able to 30 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
already do what I love and have time to develop and grow as an artist.” We only hope for more heart wrenching and gentle songs to come from this young musician in the future. Throwing it back to 2011 when a huge wave of attention and appreciation for her “Skinny Love” cover masked the globe, we thirsted to know what inspired her to elope on the endeavor. It was none other than the fragility of the song that sparked her interest, and being able to put her own spin on someone else’s track, after being a writer herself. “I really enjoyed interpreting the songs and wanted to explore it more,” she tells us, and so she did. That particular experience lit up her interest in performing covers, and it was followed by a powerful cover album, Birdy, in the fall of 2011. Being able to interpret songs and explore a different way of portraying them was certainly something fans noticed. She broke out of the most common mold of cover songs, which is to attempt to sound exactly like the original song and band. Putting her own twist on the songs was something that made it a definite success and led to her most recent endeavors. It’s currently a very exciting time for Birdy, who just released Fire Within on June 3rd. The album was recorded in LA with Rich Costey and in London with Jim Abbiss, whom she had worked with on her debut album. Familiarity between an artist and their producer can bring out the magic in a song that might have otherwise fallen short. In this case, Fire Within is better than imagined. “I had an idea of how I wanted the album to sound but I really had a chance to explore with their suggestions,” Birdy elaborated. The mixture of knowing and her openness to suggestion is what will keep her on top with this new album.
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Within the recording process, she had a chance to explore their suggestions and come up with an amazing album in the end. She was able to stay focused while creating this album, because of her raw passion to write and tell stories. This album was written, like most albums, about personal matters such as being away from home and having new experiences. Compared to her self-titled cover album, these songs are all her own. Now that the album is out, she’s able to talk about how proud of it she is, since it’s extremely personal in comparison to her cover album. As a singer/songwriter, Birdy spends quite a bit of time writing – most of which is done at four AM when it’s quiet in her house and she has time to really think. A lot of this album, however, was written while she was on tour in Australia, where she tried co-writing for the first time. “I worked with some wonderful people like Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic) and Dan Wilson (Semisonic).” Releasing a new album and writing with some of the most well known songwriters in current history wasn’t all that rounded off this past year for Birdy. She was also one of the lucky ones to contribute to the soundtrack of this summer’s most highly anticipated book-tomovie adaption, The Fault In Our Stars. Birdy has not one, but three songs on the soundtrack for The Fault In Our Stars. She heard about the film and immediately read the book. As soon as she started reading it, she fell in love with the story, like all of us who have read anything by John Green have. Her love for the story made her extremely excited to have a chance to write for the soundtrack and be involved, and one of her song featured, “Not About Angels,” was inspired by the book. After Birdy went to see a screening of the movie, she loved it so much she ended up going to LA to write two more songs with Dan Wilson for the soundtrack. All of these occurrences created a deep excitement for her to be involved. Additionally, she’s just finished a supporting tour with Christina Perri. Of course, as much as she’d love to keep touring, (not to mention how much her fans would love it as well!) this summer she’ll be going back home to play festivals in Europe and making some quiet time for writing. Although the excitement and joy of touring has been incredible for her, being away from home has been the most difficult part she has struggled with. “Being away from home has been the strangest part for me. I’m very close to
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my family and I love being near my friends and it’s very beautiful where I grew up, it’s my favorite place to be,” she elaborated. By overcoming those struggles, she’s been able to find the balance, having fun playing with her band while being out on the road and feeling extremely lucky to do what she loves. Despite being able to play all over the world, gaining fans who adore her, having intellectual and endearing songwriting skills, and contributing to the soundtrack of one of the most romantic young adult love stories in our current time, those don’t come close to being the highlight of her career. She attributes that moment to performing at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, “[it] was an incredible moving experience, a moment I will remember forever.” Embracing these incredibly exciting experiences, growing up, and becoming closer with her band, she has had time to find her feet with the gradual change of lifestyle. Fortunately, she’s been able to stay grounded by being surrounded by the people she loves. Having a close family who knows her better than anyone and has supported her from the very beginning has been a big calming influence, and she’s very lucky to have that as not all artists striving for success do. Of course, many people who are trying to get noticed as musicians are constantly asking for advice on how to do it. Having started out with a video on YouTube, she realizes that it’s an incredible way of sharing your music, and it can be a great way for fellow young, aspiring musicians to make a name for themselves. Her advice? “Make sure you love everything you do and be confident with your ideas,” she tells us. The wonderful thing about having been there and gone through it herself, is that she’s able to give sound advice. For many artists who love their craft, being able to help others pursue their dreams is an added bonus that they look forward to. Especially when they’ve already felt fortunate enough to be able to touch so many lives with their music. For Birdy, this is only the beginning, and she’s headed to the top on a one way street. PHOTOS: Jordan Fischels INTERVIEW & STORY: Daisy Marietta
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“IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE MOVING EXPERIENCE, A MOMENT I WILL REMEMBER FOREVER.”
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TOUR ROUND UP PHOTO: Ashley Osborn
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PHOTO: Ashley Osborn
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PHOTO: Maysa Askar
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PHOTO: Cara Bahniuk
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reviews artist: Bad Suns album: Language & Perspective
Sounds like: The Kooks Smallpools Sir Sly
Recommended tracks: “Dancing On Quicksand” “Take My Love and Run” “Learn To Trust”
We Move Like The Ocean
Take My Love and Run
Dancing On Quicksand
Learn To Trust
Release date: June 24tth, 2014
website: badsuns.com REVIEW: Haley Black
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Resembling feel-good beachy vibes, Bad Suns embody unequivocal precision and manifest a powerful confidence. Bad Suns have already broken through mainstream radio prior to releasing their debut album, featuring their popular single, “Cardiac Arrest,” which has blown up on the Top 40 alternative chart. The LA indie rockers gave listeners a taste of their debut, Language & Perspective, with the release of their Transpose EP earlier this year, which includes three tracks that made the full length’s cut: “Cardiac Arrest,” “Transpose,” and “Salt.” A hypnotizing vibrato, dreamy intros, vibrant and electrifying guitar hooks, and sanguine, upbeat melodies with catchy choruses build the foundation of Language & Perspective. All eleven tracks are around similar tempos, which provides a constantly upbeat collection of songs to keep audiences enticed, without causing exhaustion. “Matthew James” and “Move Like The Ocean” remain mellow, head-bobbing tracks, while “Transpose” will get you moving. The tracks never reach a slower pace than “Sleep Paralysis,” which has a heavy bass-line and static effects in the forefront. The lively and high-spirited musicality of Language & Perspective manages to be alluring while laid-back all at once: the ideal combination for a carefree summer soundtrack. From “Matthew James” to “Rearview,” the record remains consistent from beginning to end, never allowing a dull moment to creep in and dilute the overall hard-driven persistence. The debut LP is about to launch Bad Suns into what will likely lead them into the arms of countless festival appearances, television performances, and continuous radio play that will leave fans in a euphoric state, and equipped with the epitome of an anthemic summer album.
Artist: The Downtown Fiction Album: Losers & Kings The Downtown Fiction makes their debut on Fearless Records with the release of Losers & Kings. Since their debut album, Let’s Be Animals, the band has simplified their approach to production and concentrate on song elements that allow their unique sound to stand out. There’s no distraction on the album to take away from the musicianship and talent within the band. Each track is clean and filled with raw instrumentals. Lead singer Cameron Leahy’s voice takes on different characteristics from song to song. His ability to transition from controlled low notes to choruses bursting with energy and passion gives The Downtown Fiction’s sound an edge that most bands would die to have. Many of the songs such as the catchy “So Called Life” and the spirited “No Generation” are anthemic, bringing a certain punch to the album. The elements in many of the songs including “Santa Cruz” and “Some Place On Earth” take notes from early millennium pop rock bands like The Academy Is and The All-American Rejects. It’s a perfect summer album with catchy melodies and misfit anthems.
recommended tracks: “So Called Life” & “Cool Kids” review: Jessica Klinner Artist: For All Those Sleeping Album: Incomplete Me If a dose of heavy with some extra sides of breakdowns and guttural screams is what you’re musically craving this summer, then For All Those Sleeping has you covered. On June 23rd the band will release their third album, Incomplete Me. Although if you are looking for an album that flows and has a certain togetherness, you may want to look elsewhere. While it’s clear on this album that the band are attempting to add musical flair to many of these songs with sudden tempo shifts, rhythms change-ups and contrasting tones, it doesn’t really work. On tracks like “Demons” and “Party Poison” the band try to throw in some variation to the composition, but wind up leaving us with messy pieces that are a bit hard to follow. On the other hand, when the album isn’t feeling like a sloppy attempt to bring a more musical quality forward, many of the other songs just fall flat and fade into oblivion; featuring half-hearted electronic breakdowns and auto-tuned vocals that just feel like an unnecessary layer. Despite the albums several faults there are a few bright moments with tracks like “Incomplete Me”, “Hell or Heaven,” and “Red.” “Incomplete Me” with its chanting chorus, “Heaven or Hell” with its softer, yet lovely, melodies and “Red” with its hint of industrial flare that make the track intriguing and haunting. For All Those Sleeping is certainly trying for something great with their song writing. Unfortunately Incomplete Me doesn’t quite live up to its potential.
recommended tracks: “Incomplete Me” & “Red” review: Annette Schaefer Artist: The Word Alive Album: Real The Word Alive’s (TWA) highly anticipated album Real. is everything a fan could ask for. The album starts off extremely strong and carries the energy throughout. The songs are much more put together, genuine or “real” as some may say, and the songwriting has exponentially improved. The most exciting aspect is the addition of more vocals (not just growls) from Tyler “Telle” Smith. They work so well with Zack Hansen and Tony Pizzuti’s flashy riffing and Luke Holland’s methodical drumming. My favorite song would have to be “Lighthouse.” It is much different than most of the album, but refreshing and inspirational – the perfect anthem just in time for summer. “Lighthouse” is the band’s prevailing calling and reminder to be yourself. Overall, the album is not one to miss. Real. shows their growth and makes me wonder what more they are capable of. It is safe to say, The Word Alive has finally hit their stride and found their niche in music.
recommended tracks: “Lighthouse,” “Your Mirage” & “Collapsing” review: Theresa Pham
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Issue #28 featuring Birdy, Cage The Elephant, The Dodos, Cassio Monroe, Bad Suns, Drop The Anchor Clothing and many more.