WARPED TOUR – GHOST TOWN – SET IT OFF – OUR LAST NIGHT – MAGIC MAN & 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, savana ogburn, ashley osborn, heather phillips, petey place, sam polonsky, danny raybon, sam roenfeldt, sam san roman, kaiden seven, daniel shippey, nicole fara silver and amy willard
contributing writers (online & publication)
christina belles, haley black, jennifer boylen, geoff burns, colleen casey, madison convey, rebecca del castillo, trevor figge, tamara fuentes, jessica klinner, catt kruger, jordyn, lockwood, daisy marietta, zoe marquedant, bridjet mendyuck, theresa pham, 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, and sarah akomanyi
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max bemis, natalie shaffer, big picture media, equal vision records, curran belvins, roadrunner records, sony music, the catalyst publicity group, persistent heart media, one one 7, mike farrell and all of you who continue to read our issues every month!
_________________________ 06 say anything matt vogel
07 woo park sam callahan
quiet company anna longworth
magic man tarina doolittle
ghost town sam polonsky
our last night daniel shippey
we the kings charlie martel
set it off tarina doolittle 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 warped tour 20 bunbury music festival 23 tattoo talk 26 woo park 28 quiet company 32 ghost town 34 set it off 38 our last night 42 magic man 46 say anything 56 tour round up max frost fall out boy fitz and the tantrums new politics 64 reviews
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SAY ANYTHING - 46
QUIET COMPANY - 28
GHOST TOWN - 32
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CATCH ONTO THESE TRENDS STAFF: Larry Martin – Founder COMPANY: FakeLife Clothing LOCATION: Lancaster, Pennsylvania WEBSITE: fakelife.org
HOW DID FAKELIFE BEGIN? Inspired by an ear for music, an eye for creativity and a heart for hope, our story began growing up in the hardcore/punk music scene, being in bands, starting a record label, booking shows and printing merch. The seeds that were firmly planted in this scene grew deep roots that have been the catalyst for starting FakeLife in 2009. As an adult, wanting to create a sustainable source of revenue to support various charities, I decided to merge my passion for the impoverished with my experience and love of creativity to establish this company. Our FakeLife family has evolved from a few hardcore bands to include musicians and artists of various genres who believe in our goal and want to share the journey of what we can all accomplish together. WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOUR BRAND REPRESENTS? FakeLife is more than a brand, but a lifestyle. We believe in a life of authenticity... embracing a “Be Real, Be You” philosophy. We are pursuing a story greater than our egos, pretenses, insecurities, fears and possessions. 8 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
Because of this, we partner with non-profit organizations to raise awareness and funds for serving those in need. Proceeds from the sale of FakeLife Clothing help to feed orphans living in poverty. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE WEAR YOUR BRAND? We believe that deep down, people desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The simple act of buying a shirt from FakeLife provides an orphan with 5-7 meals, connecting your story to theirs. THREE PERSONAL FAVORITE DESIGNS? 1. The gray “it takes courage” tee because of the message 2. The “Be real. Be you” tank/tee again because of their message 3. The blue and black “script” tees because they’re simple and clean. You can wear them anywhere and with anything. f/fakelifeclothing t @fakelife_org
YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO...
It’s been five years since Jake Round founded Pure Noise Records. After working as an intern at Fat Wreck Chords and an editor at AMP Magazine, Round started Pure Noise in Berkeley, California. It was originally a booking agency, but Round made the switch after learning that No Bragging Rights was unhappy with their label. A friend of the band, Round shopped their demo before taking them on and releasing their debut full length The Consequences of Dreams in early 2009. The label released a Transit and Man Overboard split later that year and has been gaining bands and loyal fans ever since. Current label-mates include The Story So Far, The American Scene, My Iron Lung, Hit the Lights, Handguns, Front Porch Step and Four Year Strong. .
FOUR YEAR STRONG
Four Year Strong won the hearts and minds of many with 2007’s Rise or Die Trying. Alan Day (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Dan O’Connor (lead vocals, lead guitar) and Jake Massucco (drums) formed the band back in 2001 in Massachusetts. Joe Weiss (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Josh Lyford (keyboards, synthesizer, screamed vocals) were added to the line-up and the band released It’s Our Time in 2005. Since the band has been churning out their special brand of hardcore power punk, cultivating a sound that straddles the line between post-hardcore and pop punk. The band’s latest effort Go Down in History, hints at a less synth-soaked direction, but don’t worry they’re keeping the beards.
Listen to: “Living Proof of a Stubborn Youth”
FRONT PORCH STEP
Jake Mcelfresh’s acoustic project Front Porch Step is a holds up Pure Noise’s softer side. With not much more than his voice and his guitar, Mcelfresh pens songs about unrequited and relationships with heartbreaking accuracy and staggering relatability. The Ohioan sing-songwriter released the EP So Help Me God in 2012 and Aware the following year. He joins his labelmates on the Warped Tour, playing a mix of his work and well-crafted covers.
Listen To: “Drow”
Upstate New York’s State Champs started in 2010. After releasing a demo and the Apparently, I’m Nothing EP, they were signed and their label-debut Overslept was released. The EP was followed-up by 2013’s full-length The Finer Things. After undergoing some lineup changes, the band has solidified with vocalist Derek Discanio at the helm, Ryan Scott Graham on bass, Evan Ambrosio on drums and Tyler Szalkowski and Tony Diaz on guitar. They have toured alongside the likes of Motion City Soundtrack, William Beckett, New Found Glory and The Wonder Years and are currently out on the Vans Warped Tour, playing the famed Kevin Says stage.
Listen to: “Elevated”
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WORDS: Zoe Marquedant
VENUE HIGHLIGHT MANCHESTER ACADEMY - MANCHESTER, ENGLAND
Manchester Academy is generally an umbrella term used by four venues run as part of the University of Manchester’s student union - the main venue, Manchester Academy (sometimes known as Academy 1); Manchester Academy 2, Manchester Academy 3 and Club Academy. Academy 1 was opened in 1990 and was first performed in by Buzzcocks, but has since hosted the likes of Nirvana, All Time Low and Lady Gaga as it has become one of the most well known and highly-regarded venues in the country.
TWITTER: @ManAcademy FACEBOOK: facebook.com/manchesteracademy WEBSITE: manchesteracademy.net
WHY PLAY HERE?
Across the UK most ‘Academy’ venues are under the ownership of the Academy Music Group in partnership with British cellphone company O2, and have been since 2009 when they were renamed from ‘Carling Academy’ (named after their former sponsor) to ‘O2 Academy’ followed by the name of the city. The only exception to this is Manchester Academy which is still owned by the university. This gives the venues a special kind of charm as technically they are independently run, and it has often meant that regular patrons have many fond memories of seeing their favorite bands in such a wonderful venue. With the main venue hosting a capacity of 2,600, to the smallest Academy 3 with 450, there is a hall just the right size for all kinds of bands whether they be up and coming or established with thousands of fans. If that isn’t enough to reel you in, then the fact that the brand has won awards for running the ‘greenest’ venues, and that it has great accessibility for disabled music fans shows that they are a group of venues run for the people above anything else.
New Found Glory
REVIEW: Madison Convey PHOTO: Mike Peel/Google
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ARTISTS COLIN HUNTLEY Location: Austin, TX Current Single: “Best I Never Had”
Singer/Songwriter, Colin Huntley, is living his dream. Based out of Austin, TX, Huntley has begun to build a reputation as both an artist, and as an actor. With the release of his second EP, Best I Never Had, Huntley has shown remarkable talent, and has even earned a spot on ABC’s new vocal competition, “Rising Star,” which premiered on June 24th.
DIET Location: Staten Island, NY Current Single: “I Can’t Sit Still” Memebrs: Thom Kinnear – Lead Vocals/Guitar, Chris Taranto – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar, Fernando Hernandez – Bass, George Bulger – Drums Emo revivalists, Diet, bring a genuine sound and attitude to their music. The four-piece based out of Staten Island released their debut EP, Diet, in 2013, and have a string of shows playing across the northeast this August. The band also released its current single, “I Can’t Sit Still,” this past January.
ERIN BOWMAN Location: New Jersey Current Single: “Hey Summer” Pop artist, Erin Bowman, has been singing her whole life. From talent shows to mall performances, the New Jersey based singer never turned down an opportunity to perform. Recently, Bowman has seen commercial success with her single, “Problem” receiving daily play on Sirius XM’s channel, 20 on 20, which became a top 5 requested song in less than four weeks. It looks like Bowman is not slowing down anytime soon.
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WORDS: Nick Yacovazzi
IF I STAY
A box of tissues will be a must-have item for your trip to the movie theaters this summer with the release of John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars this past June and now the upcoming release of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay. Both are based off of successful young adult novels, both tell tragically beautiful tales, and TFIOS has proven to be a massive success in the box office. How will this second teen tearjerker measure up to the bar that has been set by its YA film predecessor? If I Stay by Gayle Forman tells the story of talented cellist Mia Hall. Mia has an amazing family, a dedicated boyfriend and a promising musical career, but all of that is seemingly taken away in an instant when her family gets into a deadly car accident. Now Mia is left an orphan and barely hanging on to her own life with a big choice to make: to stay and live or to go. Throughout the story the readers see into the events of and the cracks in Mia’s life that will lead her to an irreversible decision. WHY IT COULD BE GREAT First of all, this film has a great source material. If I Stay manages to tell a story that is funny, romantic, touching and tragic all at once. It’s a story where you find yourself not only attaching to the main character, but all the side characters and their individual quirks. On top of that, if you are a music fan, this movie is likely to have a diverse and killer soundtrack. Music plays a huge role in If I Stay. From Mia’s dedication to classical to her parent’s punk rock past to her boyfriends budding indie career, music is an absolutely necessary part of this tale. Expect everything from Bach to Sonic Youth. WHY IT MIGHT FLOP Casting could be an issue for this film. For the most part much of the cast is not very well known with the exception of Chloe Grace Moretz, who has pulled several large roles as of late, but not really any massive box office hits (Kick Ass 2 and Carrie). Casting can play a huge role in theater turnout and the cast for this flick just seems questionable for success. Probably the biggest hurtle this movie has to face is the overwhelming success of The Fault In Our Stars. Both tell similar tragic tales and pull from similar fan-bases, but it’s clear if you walk into a book store or type in a tag on Tumblr which book/film has been getting the bigger talk. With all eyes on TFIOS, If I Stay may be easily overshadowed. No matter the turnout, Summer 2014 is sure to be a tearful one in the theaters. So get your popcorn and soda and, of course, your tissues and enjoy every heart aching moment. REVIEW: Annette Schaefer
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INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHT NAME: Mike Farrell LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA JOB: Art Director at Fearless Records
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STORY/WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE INDUSTRY?
I’ve always been a huge fan of music. Growing up in Detroit area music scene, I played in bands all through high school and beyond. As a necessity I made flyers for our shows and that’s what initially sparked my interest in design. When the whole touring band thing didn’t really work out for me, I decided to pursue an education in Art & Design from Grand Valley in Grand Rapids, MI. I continued to work on mostly music industry based projects throughout school to build my portfolio. I found out about an opening at Fearless for a Junior Designer position and I flew out to LA for an interview. I was lucky for them to take a chance on me, and now I’ve been here for over 5 years!
WHAT EXACTLY DOES AN ART DIRECTOR DO?
For album art, it’s interpreting our bands visions for their albums and developing an image that fits their vision. Each project is handled differently, whether that’s finding and pairing an artist with a specific project, coming up with a concept or creating that art myself. However, album art is only a small part of the job. Band logos, web graphics for social sites, warped tour graphics, etc. are all things I’m responsible for. Basically, everything with a Fearless logo on it, either my production designer or myself are at least partially responsible for.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I get to work on a lot of cool projects, go to a lot of concerts & work with some great people!
WHAT ARE THREE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CAREER MOMENTS?
In no particular order, 1. Getting a platinum record for Breathe Carolina’s “Blackout” was pretty rad. It was a really intense project for everyone at Fearless at the time, and it was very cool to reach that goal. 2. Just getting hired at Fearless and relocating to California was pretty excellent. I was a fan of the label since the Gatsby’s American Dream, Brazil, and Near Miss days. Back then I would have thought it would be from the artist side rather than label side of the coin but I took what I could get. 3. Being in the green room at Jimmy Kimmel with Breathe and the rest of the Fearless crew was a pretty surreal moment. I definitely called my parents after that one!
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH?
I’d really love to be nominated for a Grammy for album art packaging at some point. That would have to be #1. PHOTO: Chris Martin
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T H G I L H G I H S TO E O G Once fans arrive at the Vans Warped Tour, pass through the security lines, and step into the fairgrounds and parking lots, they have stepped into a whole new world that is indescribable to someone who hasn’t ventured into it before. 20 years ago this phenomenon began with a dream of Kevin Lyman’s and has flourished into a community and way of life. This year the Vans Warped Tour took a strong hit from the media. Between the drama over signs warning attendees about no moshing and crowd surfing (an essential to the festival), to a fake kidnapping, and even an article on Vice with opinions from a writer who had never attended the tour before, it still managed to end up on top. With 20 years under the tours belt, it was a summer like the previous 19 years, one fangirls and punks would cherish until the day they die. The day at the Vans Warped Tour began like every other year, thousands of preteens to parents rushing the gates to A) buy all the merchandise they wanted before the booths ran out of their size or B) to the massive blowup schedule to plan the rest of their day. Some of the most memorable opening acts included State Champs who kicked off the day with their energetic single “Remedy,” The Color Morale, who was nominated for Breakthrough Band at the first Alternative Press Music Awards, and Bad Rabbits who brought a little R&B into the punk majority. Some fortunate dates got to witness a special guest performance by a veteran of the tour for the 20th anniversary. Those included Linkin Park, A Day To Remember, and The Early November who stole the stage at The Acoustic Basement. But by the end of the evening at each date, this year attendants were apart of roaring crowds for Yellowcard, The Devil Wears Prada, Mayday Parade, Breathe Carolina, Motionless In White, and many others who graced both main stages. Each band gave it their all for the 30 minutes they were allotted. To all of the fans that dedicate a year of needing the next summer at the Vans Warped Tour, and a whole day in the grueling uneasy heat, it doesn’t matter who is playing. What matters are the memories created and the moments they will have for the rest of time, and this year just like every other year was 100% successful. 16 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
PHOTOS: Charlie Martel & Sam Polonsky WORDS: Jenn Stookey
THIS WILD LIFE
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EVERY TIME I DIE
WE THE KINGS
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COURAGE MY LOVE
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
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In its third year, Bunbury Music Festival is starting to create a serious buzz in more than just Cincinnati. Located along the Ohio River in Downtown Cincinnati, you have people from all over traveling to the city for a fun three-day weekend. Bunbury has more than just music; it celebrates and appreciates everything local. Craft beer, Cincinnati inspired clothing and awesome local food trucks, what’s not to love about Bunbury? Three years prior, you wouldn’t have had anything like this then but now you can only imagine how bigger and better next years Bunbury will be. It is more than just a three-day festival, it brings music lovers and festivalgoers to do one thing and that’s to appreciate music. Day one: sunscreen on the skin and beer in hand people were already in festival mode. Some of the first acts to take the stage were bands such as Royal Teeth to start the River Stage and X Ambassadors on the Main Stage. After a few more sets, Cage The Elephant took the stage and just blew everyone way. One of the more energetic performances of the day, lead singer Matt Shultz knows how to excite the crowd and kept them jumping. One of the cool things about Bunbury is you don’t have to leave the grounds to get food; Bunbury always has an awesome selection of local food and beer. You see many people enjoy grab a bite to eat with a beer in hand getting ready to watch their favorite band. The crowd for the main stage had been building up since doors had opened after a crazy energetic set by Fitz and The Tantrums; fans were getting ready for Empire of The Sun. The crowd was full of colorful and decretive fans, you could just see the music flow through their bodies as they danced without a care. As soon as Empire hit the stage it was like you were in another dimension. On the second day of Bunbury, people were so excited that some had been lined up since the early morning. Fall Out Boy and Paramore were hitting the main stage today and the fans were ready. Once gates opened it was a wave of young and dedicated fans with colored neon and ombred hair all over the place. Not even a few hours in, and the festival was already packed full of people. As soon as 3PM came around, the band Caspian began to play one of the most beautiful sets I had ever seen. Though the set was only five-songs long, the crowd took in every melodic note the band delivered. An artist that really stood out to me was Cincinnati-native, Jane Decker, on the Lawn Stage. She played a very relaxed and smooth set that I, as well as over 100 other got to sit down and enjoy, despite competing with the prospect of getting a close spot for Paramore on the Main Stage. By the time 8PM rolled by Paramore hit the stage to one of the hugest crowds Bunbury had ever seen; you could hear the roaring fans from the other side of the venue. They played all their hits and favorites, and fans were not
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disappointed. Nestled between Fall Out Boy and Paramore’s sets was hometown favorites Foxy Shazam. Their set was one of the most crazy and energetic ones of the weekend – backflips, jumps, spins were just some of the crazy moves that they had up their sleeve. Around 10PM the wait was finally over for the fans that had been waiting all day finally got to see Fall Out Boy take the stage. The night was full of all of their hits and then some, accompanied by a crazy light show and pyrotechnics. It’s safe to say Fall Out Boy delivered the kind of performance that Bunbury had yet to see up until this point. The last day of Bunbury arrived with a few more great performances in store, despite the thunderstorm that pushed the schedule back and the fans under bridges and tents for shelter. Acts such as ZZ ward, The Orwells and Holy Ghost had the difficult task of warming the crowds back up after a wet start to the day. A personal favorite of mine for the day was electronic artist, Robert Delong’s creative and colorful set. Even before he was due to perform, fans had been painting their bodies with colorful body paint to show their support. As soon as he hit the stage it was an instant dance party; fans had forgotten about the not so great weather and just enjoyed the fun and danceable music.
The last band of the night was long over due, with delayed performances and stormy weather, but The Flaming Lips certainly made it well worth it. Their opening performance was something words could describe but something you need to witness for yourself. Dancing mushrooms, happy rainbows – The Flaming Lips performance was one of the wildest things I have ever seen. Fans were entranced by the whole live show; you could an echo of screaming fans all through out the venue. The indescribable set was a memorable way to close out the three-day festival. Every year is always better than the last, but these years’ performances and overall atmosphere will be tough to beat.
YOUNG THE GIANT
BRICK & MORTAR PHOTOS & WORDS: Jon Medina
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WARPED TO TA LKS TATT
“Because I can relate to birds when they have to live on their own at an early age”
PHOTOS: Maysa Askar
DAVID ESCAMILLA Crown The Empire
r a e y e h t s ’ “It born s n a o w t i I ot r g I and ed Tou p r a W 09.” in 20
GARRETT NICKELSEN The Maine
KEVIN FLETCHER Uh Huh Baby Yeah “The tattoo that is my favorite on me is the bad ass bacon tattoo and the reason why is because it’s a really awesome story. I haven’t had to buy bacon in three years, I get free bacon from Oscar Meyer with it and the reason being is because they were running what’s called the bacon barter. A guy went across the country and could only make his way across by bartering with bacon, no cash, money, cards, nothing, and he asked if anyone wanted to get a tattoo when he came through Louisville in exchange for bacon. I was like ‘sure!’ so I did it, shot the episode for the show and free bacon for life yo.”
“My favorite tattoo is the eagle with the American flag behind it and my grandfather’s initials. It’s the same tattoo he got when he was in the navy in World War II, which he only paid five dollars for in Hawaii. I paid a little bit more for mine but still it’s got a lot of personal sentiment behind it for me.”
JOHN Uh Huh Baby Yeah
“My favorite tattoo is my hand tattoo. My hands are my tools but it also has a lot of meaningful symbols that remind me of my family, my loved ones. These are my favorite sayings, like ‘Almost never counts’ so uh yeah, that’s my favorite.”
ALIX MONSTER Ghost Town
“My favorite tattoo is my ‘Forever A Ghost’ tattoo. It was actually my first tattoo right after Ghost Town started and it’s my favorite because it’s something I can look at every day and remind myself that this band is more than just a band, it’s our lives and we’re in it for the long run.”
KEVIN GHOST Ghost Town
“My favorite tattoo is my Houdini one on my arm because a lot of people call me the electronic magician and he’s a magician. It’s my favorite because it looks super clean and it’s what I wanted it to be.”
EVAN PEARCE Ghost Town PHOTOS: Sam Polonsky
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“When I was 17, I was on tour in the States. My best friend, I was living with at the time, was involved in a bad car wreck back home. This was really hard for me to deal with on the road. I came up with a guardian angel idea for a sleeve on the bus. When I returned home my friend was just coming out of a coma. When I told my tattoo artist what I wanted I drew this piece up and I love it. Now I have it forever.”
BRANDON LOCKWOOD Courage My Love
“Godzilla is hungry and so I am.”
PETER “JR” WASILEWSKI Less Than Joke
“I got this wolf neck thing tattoo as a tribute to my band’s latest album “Ashes to Ashes”. ”
“Tiki: For protection from evil spirits”
BRYCE KLEMER Pacific Dub
ALEX KOEHLER Chelsea Grin
“I share this tattoo image with my wife <3 ”
““Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks. Half of me is ocean, half of me is sky.” This tattoo is based on lyrics from the Tom Petty song ‘Walls’.”
ROGER LIMA Less Than Jake NICK SANTINO
PHOTOS: Charlie Martel
HOME: Chicago, IL CURRENTLY: Recording debut EP
THERE ARE PLENTY OF FAMOUS
quotes in favor of taking risks, and it seems true that those who take the biggest risks are always destined for good things. Woo Park is no exception to this rule. The six-piece soul and rock fusion group have been taking risks left and right since they formed just under a year ago. And it’s paying off big time. From tackling a unique genre to conquering a city-wide music competition, Woo Park is a force to be reckoned with. Hailing from Chicago and consisting of members Emily Nichols, Parker Grogan, Christian Zwit, Luke Sangerman, Brian Sanborn, and Steven Rutledge, Woo Park has definitely hit the ground running. “We had the idea for this band over two years ago and were simply waiting for the right musicians to show up,” they explained. “Once they did, everything just fell into place.” This includes developing and perfecting their distinctive sound, which wasn’t an obvious choice in the beginning. “It took us some time to come into our sound. We all knew each other on a personal level, but getting to know someone musically is a completely different thing.”Pretty quickly however, they recognized a shared interest in soul and groove music and from there they created what they classify as “psychedelic soul” music. “Our music takes you on a psychedelic journey, then lands with your feet firm on the ground; controlled chaos if you will.” However, once a special sound is born, it needs to be heard, and Woo Park has made getting their music out into the world a priority. And what better way to announce your band than by entering a city-wide battle of the bands competition for over 900 music fans. That opportunity arrived in the form of Columbia College’s Biggest Mouth competition, which Woo Park not only participated in, but won. “It exposed us to a totally new crowd of people. We got such positive feedback from that audience.” Not to mention they also took home a grand prize package that included press time, a photo 26 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
shoot, and $1,000; an opportunity almost invaluable to new bands. “The most exciting part for us was winning the $1,000 cash prize. It completely paid for our studio time.” That much needed studio time has been put to good use recording their debut EP, a personal career highlight for this young band. “We’ve been writing pretty steadily from the beginning, so we have an absurd amount of original music. We chose four songs that represent our sound best, and then we sprinkled in a few surprise tracks that were born in the studio.” Still, the band hasn’t been hiding away in the studio all summer. They are always concerned with getting their music heard and have spent a good chunk of the summer months touring. Exposing a sound as different as Woo Park’s to brand new listeners might potentially have spelled disaster, but Woo Park has experienced a mostly positive response from audiences. They attribute this to both their collective musical influences that can be heard in their music and their spirited performances. “Since our music touches on so many genres it’s easy for everyone to find something they can get down to. We keep the energy high and the material fresh, so our audience is always in for a one of a kind journey. We keep ‘em wanting more.” But continuous success and finding and keeping new fans will only continue to happen if the band members themselves work together and communicate. This is something Woo
Park has placed emphasis on since their formation. “We get together several times a week to keep this musical conversation going.” This doesn’t include just talking and writing however; regular rehearsal schedules are key in keeping this band a cohesive, functioning unit. “If we aren’t writing, we’re revisiting old tunes and fine tuning them. We keep our rehearsals fun and comfortable so everyone feels free to speak their mind and exchange ideas.” The collective members of Woo Park are already maneuvering their music careers as wisely as seasoned veterans. With the quick success they have already experienced, they may soon see themselves in the same league with those artists they have admired for quite some time now. Yet Woo Park feels as if they are already experiencing their dream life, “We’re already living it. Making music with people who care is the most rewarding thing ever. Money and fame would be nice, but passion and drive are better.” Woo Park seem to have both passion and drive in abundance and have already proven themselves to be one of the most ambitious and hard-working bands on the market. The future looks bright for Woo Park and as the band has already demonstrated, there is no better time than the present to appreciate it. PHOTOS: Sam Callahan INTERVIEW & STORY: Elizabeth Tolbert HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 27
HOME: Austin, TX NOW JAMMING: Other People’s Hits (Cover Album) CURRENTLY: Releasing Transgressor this fall
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VERY FEW INDIVIDUALS ARE
blessed with the talent to be masters of multiple instruments, but Austin, TX, locals Quiet Company are a unique group of men who are composed almost entirely of multiinstrumentalists. Guitarist Tommy Blank also contributes his abilities by playing the piano, organs, and glockenspiel, as well as lending his voice from time to time. Matt Parmenter’s expertise lies with the bass guitar, but isn’t limited to it as he also sings and plays piano, while Evan Smoker brings his a-game on drums, and Bill Gryta takes his place behind the keyboard. Vocalist Taylor Muse fronts the indie-rock five piece and also plays the guitar, piano, organ, trumpet, and saxophone. There must have not been enough satisfaction or challenge involved for each of the impressive artists to limit themselves to just one instrument. “I learned saxophone in middle school band but guitar was my first cool instrument. I think it was Christmas on my 7th grade year that I got it. My brother got a keyboard the same year so I picked up a little of that over the years and eventually bought my own and got more serious about playing it. I learned to drum a little bit just by playing around on the kits of drummers in bands I was in. Eventually I stumbled into playing drums for a band for about a year and I think I got to be okay at it in that time. Everything else I’ve played on records I think we just kind of figured out the parts in the studio or looked up how to chord things online. Most of us in the band are jacks of all trades, masters of none,” Muse explained. The members of Quiet Company are all veteran musicians, playing in multiple bands before joining together to create a new one-of-a-kind project. Muse has been associated with several bands including the Neckpunch, The Lonely Hearts, and Tyler, TX, sibling band Eisley. When he began leading a band of his own in 2005, he finally was able to write lyrics without any restraints and mold his emotions into inspiring compositions. “Quiet Company is great because I have a lot of creative control and I need that for this band. I don’t think I would need that if I joined another band but for this one I do. It’s just always been my baby. I definitely learned a lot in every band I›ve been in, but I don’t think Neckpunch or Eisley or any others have had any effect on what we sound like.” The quintet met the same way many bands meet nowadays: Craigslist. After putting out and answering ads, meeting up, and participating in informal auditions to test their compatibility, Quiet Company was finally able to complete a solid lineup of local Austin musicians. Residing in the Live Music Capital of the World has its perks. There are countless opportunities to play at renowned music festivals within the city such as Fun Fun Fun Fest, Austin City Limits, SXSW, or even the weekly community gathering, Blues on the Green in Zilker Park. Quiet Company are 30 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
among a tight-knit community of local musicians, including: Mighty Mountain, Wild Child, The Wheeler Brothers, and Shakey Graves, just to name a few, all whom the band greatly admire. “There’s a lot of amazing musicians here and there definitely is a great sense of community. We have a lot of friends that we like and respect here and that atmosphere does tend to push you creatively, I think. We’re also fortunate in Austin to have organizations like the Austin Music Foundation, The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), and Black Fret that are actively trying to keep the cities musicians thriving,” Muse said. Even the local paper, the Austin Chronicle is quite the supporter of the ATX music scene. Every year the publication hosts an online poll for their Austin Music Awards that specifically caters to the locals, with categories like Musician of the Year, Best New Austin Act, and Band of the Year. This past year, Quiet Company was rightfully named Best Rock Band of the Year. 2012 was a year of numerous victories, as the group took the title for 10 Austin Music Awards, including: Album of the Year (We Are All Where We Belong), Song of the Year (“You, Me & the Boatman”), and Muse crowned as Musician, Songwriter, and Male Vocalist of the Year. With such a loyal following, Quiet Company enjoys the support that they receive from friends and fellow Austin inhabitants, but continues to struggle with expanding their audience outside of the city limits. “Breaking in Austin was difficult to do in the first place and there are still a few thousand miles to go there as well. We’re hoping that with our new record we can have the right team in place to help us make the national jump in a big way. I mean, there are a lot of cities outside of Austin that we’re already doing well [in], but in the next year we hope to see a marked difference.” Being known simply as a local band can sound like a death sentence rather than a chance to grow. Although the music scene in Austin is quite extraordinary, it can also be a bubble, as many bands remain in their comfort zones. Quiet Company is more than just a weekend hobby, playing bar shows on Sixth Street just for fun. Like all musicians, their dream is to have music be their full-time career. It is up to people around the United States to pick up on their ingenuity and demand that they play in their cities in order for this goal to be achieved. “We’re a band that people have been saying was just about to ‘break out’ and ‘make it’ for a long time but it hasn’t really happened. I think the hardest thing is just trying to persevere in the face of that frustration and to stay positive when it feels like you’re just constantly banging your head
against a wall,” Muse confessed. “It’s an ongoing battle. One I may lose eventually, if I’m being honest. I don’t have any answer for how to overcome it. I’m afraid because I’m currently searching for that answer myself. One thing I do try to do is remember that people are actually starving as I sit here and talk about how my music career is often frustrating, so you know...perspective.” Though there is a constant struggle to “make it,” Muse and his band mates continue to remain thankful for the chance to produce music and play live shows any chance they are able to. As for shattering the label of “local band,” only time will tell.
Despite combatting with many feats, Quiet Company has also had their fair share of victories due to their unfaltering perseverance. The remainder of the year has several events to look forward to with the streaming of “The Orb Sessions from Studio A” on August 16th, and co-headlining Otherfest in Cleveland, Mississippi, on September 20th, as well as the release of Transgressor this fall, which Muse marks as one of his greatest achievements. “I can honestly say that I really love all the records we’ve that›s my favorite thing about all this. I just love making records and I hope I get to keep doing it for a long time.”
PHOTO: Danny Raybon made. At &the end Daisy of the day, INTERVIEW STORY: Marietta
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HOME: Hollywood, CA NOW JAMMING: The After Party 32 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OF LIVING IN
Allister named the comic book Haunted Youth Comic, which goes in depth of the stories of Ghost Town’s songs and the personalities of each band member, all who have special powers.
“Once we all got in the same room together and we realized we were all on the same page and had been looking for individuals like ourselves who were ready to drop everything and go, that’s exactly what we did,” Ghost said. “There was nothing more important than Ghost Town.”
Ghost said if fans should read the 34-page comic book while listening to The After Party to give them a whole new kind of experience with Ghost Town’s music.
the Hollywood, CA, area and finally meeting each other, Kevin Ghost, Evan Pearce, Alix Monster, MannyTheDrummer and Allister Dippner officially started Ghost Town.
But it was through releasing their own music for free that started a following from people. As a brand new band trying to get noticed in the scene, Ghost Town decided to release a new song each week for free for nine straight weeks. As the band kept writing new material each week and releasing it to the public, they started building momentum and gained a steady fan base. When the band thinks about writing music, they try to not just stay focused on one genre, and often joke around with each other about what genre of music Ghost Town stands for. “It’s funny, we will sit there for hours and try to create a new genre for what we are and we don’t want to cap ourselves off for people,” Ghost said. “It’s kind of like you don’t want to give people a meaning to a song, you want them to come up with their own meaning.” The process leading up to the release of Ghost Town’s full length LP The After Party consisted of writing most of the album while on the road. This process allowed for the band to have a different kind of perception while writing the songs because they would play a show and hang out with their fans, and right after go and write new material. The After Party was finished in Los Angeles and produced by Mike Green. The area where they finished the recording was important for the band because it helped the vibe of the album when reached to people throughout the scene. “There’s nothing cooler than putting out a song online or something and then an hour later going out to where we hang out and seeing a bunch of other musicians who are hustling and grinding just as hard as we are,” Ghost said. “And as we’re talking about things they say ‘Oh yeah! I just saw you guys put out that new song’ it’s just a whole lifestyle, it’s so cool. It’s hard to find places like that I feel like.” Ghost Town’s The After Party also has another aspect to the album. After the band recruited Allister Dippner to make all of the artwork for the band, there has always been one major goal the artist has always wanted to do: make a comic book.
“I remember when the idea came up and he was so ambitious about it,” Ghost said. “He was like, ‘I’m going to finish this comic book in two months,’ well it was more like six months but sure enough there was a 34-page comic book, which is actually double the size of a normal comic book. It’s a really ambitious thing that he’s always wanted to do and he absolutely killed it!” After hard work and dedication, as well as a steady, strong fan-base, Ghost Town was able to secure a spot at the Vans Warped Tour this summer. Ghost remembers going to the tour while in high school several times hoping for one day to actually perform at the tour himself. But Ghost said after actually having the opportunity to play at the Vans Warped Tour, it gave him another level of inspiration and motivation to do something even more and to keep pushing forward. “It’s been an honor and a dream come true. It’s funny growing up I thought, ‘man If I could just get to Warped Tour then I’ve made it,’ and now that I’m here I’m like, awesome,” Ghost said. “If we had the chance to place Warped Tour every year we are so down. I don’t care where we are in our careers.” More than anything that keep Ghost Town doing what they do everyday is making sure their music is connecting with their fans. Recently they had a fan come up to them who said she was inspired to do something she never thought was possible until she started listening to Ghost Town’s music. The girl went up to Ghost and said their music inspired her to write a book. But she also asked Ghost that she wished she could inspire Ghost, in which he responded “That’s what you’re doing right now. And don’t worry about inspiring me. Do what you do and there’s going to be other people that you’re going to inspire.” “That was probably the hugest highlight of why we do this,” Ghost recalled. “It’s funny because people will be like, ‘That’s so cool that you talk to your fans and hang out with them,’ and I’m like, ‘You guys are the reason we’re here, of course we do!’ So we’re not going to forget that.” PHOTO: Sam Polonsky INTERVIEW & STORY: Geoff Burns HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 33
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HOME: Tampa, FL CURRENTLY: Recording their newest album, name TBA, and on The Come Alive tour
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KNOWN FOR PLAYING MUSIC
that fits with their name, Set It Off have certainly made a name for themselves in the last few years. The Tampa, FL, natives are in the process of releasing a new album, which we discussed with bassist Dan Clermont. Usually, Cody (lead vocalist) and Dan are the ones who write the majority of the songs. They start by working on a root of a song and then play it for the rest of the band. Once they’ve given their notes and put their take on it into the mix, a song is born. Although their process started off in the usual, normal way, it took them a few months before they actually went into the studio to start demoing songs. Because of this extra time, it gave them some breathing room for the creative process. They had originally planned to record with legend John Feldmann, and had been going back and forth with him for quite some time. When they arrived in California with 40 demos to present, things definitely changed on them. An emergency came up from John’s camp and the band’s timeframe wouldn’t have allowed for them to work with him. As Dan explained, “We were left with a situation where it was literally less than an hour we had to figure out what we were going to do because we had moved out to California, had rented a house and what not so we had that time allotted to record and we were going on that tour so we needed to find a place to record and get it out by this year.” Just goes to show you how even when you think the music industry has its comforts and easier instances, it can change at any moment. Fortunately, it worked out for the better. They found out they would now be working with producer Tom English [We Came as Romans, Meg & Liz, Black Veil Brides], producer Matt Appleton [Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Foxy Shazam], and producer Brandon Paddock [Avril Lavigne, Christina Perri, Timeflies]. And that’s where their process really changed for the better since they were learning the tricks of the trade by having hands-on experience working with many different songwriters. Within the band, they’re all also very talented
songwriters who are able to write all aspects of a song. This hands-on experience was an incredible opportunity to learn and opened them up to a whole new view of songwriting. Because it’s such a different album from their previous releases, we were curious as to where the influence for changing the mood. “It’s definitely different, I wouldn’t say necessarily there’s a theme as far as the aesthetic for the record. But there’s definitely a mood, a mindset set for the record that comes with the title. It’s definitely stronger pop influenced album. Cody has a very R&B influenced background. He grew up listening to a lot of soul music so that’s definitely heavily how the album sounds melodically, but we still did a very good job at keeping nuances that keep it Set It Off’s [music]. We’re really taking the term ‘dark pop’ and just running away with that,” Dan commented. Speaking of their musical influences growing up, Cody and Dan were both in marching band during high school. Cody played clarinet, as well as alto sax in a jazz ensemble. Dan elaborated on how being in the marching band affected the way they write and play music, “The fact we were blessed enough to have that musical upbringing and that background even though marching band and jazz music is so structured, but we were able to learn theory and what’s behind the process of writing new songs. But what’s great about what we do is there really is no cap or a limit to what we do so we can take what we want from that idiom and make it our own.” Although we really wanted them to dish about the exciting collaborations on their new album, they wouldn’t tell us! That just makes the imminent release even more exciting, so we can all find out. He did tell us, “There are some [collabs] with people who we have become close with over the years; some people we never dreamed of working with before like artists who we definitely look up to and respect. I think people are going to be excited to hear what we have.” And we agree! As fun and creative as the writing and recording process can be, Dan explained that getting into their own heads was the hardest part about writing the record. It’s a huge change in their direction, being on the “poppy” side, but is still very strong. They had to truly get down to exactly what they honestly love and stop thinking about what other people were thinking or might think about it, and expose their true selves. On the other side of the coin, the adventure of the whole process made it a lot more exciting. On that note, Dan said, “I feel that Cody and myself were at a better place as songwriters and the people around us were great to work with. It was just super exciting to dive into something new and not know what’s going to end up happening.” PHOTO: Tarina Doolittle INTERVIEW & STORY: Daisy Marietta
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HOME: Hollis, NH NOW JAMMING: “Sunrise” CURRENTLY: Co-Headlining the Come Alive Tour 38 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
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You guys have recently been getting recognition for your covers of various songs like Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” How did this idea come about, how do you choose your songs, and what keeps you from continuing to them? Doing covers were something OLN never did, or really were interested in doing. After our split with Epitaph we needed something to keep the fans happy, and to release music while they wait patiently for a new EP. Our manager suggested that we try a cover song as he has seen it work very well with other bands. That being so, we released a cover of “Skyfall’ by Adele. It got roughly 60,000 plays in the first day, and went pretty much viral. It went over great with our fans, and had gained us even more. So we thought, why not? While we have time at home, we might as well keep doing them.
You guys previously took out an EP called A Summer of Covers. Can fans expect a new one soon especially with the amount of success the newer covers have been having? Yeah, we’ve talked about recording another set of covers that we can release as an EP. I would say fans can expect that around October or November.
You recently released an acoustic version of your last EP, Oak Island. How was it like turning these songs from their original version to the acoustic version and what do you hope fans get from this new version? It was an idea we had from the start of writing Oak Island so we knew when writing the actual songs how they’d translate from heavy rock versions to acoustic songs. I think it went over very well with our fans. We like to give them as much content as possible, and I think we attracted even more listeners that don’t normally listen to heavier music with our acoustic songs.
You just took out a cover version of NSYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” with Cody Carson from Set It Off, who you’re currently on tour with. How is it working with them on this tour and working with them on the cover? We’ve known Cody and Set It Off for years now, so it’s something we’ve always wanted to do. When we decided to do this co-headlining tour we wanted to use the “Bye Bye Bye” cover not only to release as a cool thing with all our fans, but as a promotional tool for the tour to help promote it. It’s also cool that all the kids get to see us play it live every night.
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You have recently parted ways with Epitaph Records and became an independent band. How has the transition been both professionally and creatively? It is AMAZING. Nothing on the “professional” end has really changed, but yes, lots on the creative side has definitely changed. A lot of things the normal person thinks about a record label is NOT true at all.. This is not me bashing labels, but simply speaking a little bit of truth. Not being on a label allows to release WHATEVER music we want WHENEVER. It’s more the freedom we enjoy if anything. Oh yeah, also seeing a bit of pay instead of seeing nothing helps too haha.
With more bands becoming more independent, how do you feel about the music industry going in this direction and what are the advantages and disadvantages of this? Like I said with question above, being an independent band allows YOU as the creator to create your own schedule, such as when you release your records, when and who you film your videos with. It’s definitely the freedom that a lot bands will be turned on by.
Matt wrote most of the songs on the album and other previous albums but this time both you [Trevor] and Tim joined in as well. What was this process like and how did it compare to times where Matt wrote songs on his own? I always wrote lyrics, but yeah, when it came to music aspect of this record I had a lot more to do with it which gave Matt more fresh ideas. Tim, myself and our friend Bucket that helped us write this record sat in a different room than Matt, created songs, then brought them to Matt and at that point we all sat down and rearranged them until we found what we liked.
One interesting thing that you guys have added that separates you from other bands is the use of a piano. How do you decide when to use it and how do you feel helps you in terms of setting yourself apart from other bands? Almost on every record we’ve had piano parts throughout the whole thing. I guess more recently we’ve decided to put it in more videos to kind of show the use of it. We definitely want start bringing our friend Joey Perricone out on tour with us to play some keys live.
Your last show on this tour will commemorate your 10th anniversary together, how does it feel to know that you guys have been together for so long and what is one of the most important things you have learned throughout the years? Yeah, 10 years… Definitely insane, considering I started the band when I was just turning 11 years old. I think we have all learned so much, not only on the music end of things but how to live in the real world. I was lucky enough to take online classes throughout my high school years, so that I was able to tour all around the world. The things that I have learned about myself and everything around me still to this day blows my mind. This entire thing has been an incredible life experience I will never take for granted.
In order to release your last two EPs, you guys had an Indiegogo campaign that ended up raising $30,000 more than what you had originally anticipated. How did it feel to know that fans pitched in so much money and did it change any perspective or fears that you had about it? Pretty crazy.. It ended up raising over $45,000 which completely blew our expectations. I personally think it was a cool thing for us and our fans which is why it went over so well. We got to work super close with friends and give them something they don’t usually get when their favorite band releases new music. It was an amazing opportunity and I can’t thank everyone enough who donated.
You guys were just in high school when you got signed, how do you think being so young when getting signed has either helped or hurt you? I guess in a way it helped in the sense of “buzz” about the band. when people hear that a band just got signed to Epitaph and the singer is only 13 and the rest of the band is 18-20 it’s definitely crazy. So I think our band was given the chance to spread fast via word of mouth.
With your new tour just starting, what is the best part about touring and what is the hardest part about it? Best part about touring is meeting new people, playing shows for our amazing fans and of course getting to travel. But with all of that comes you being forced to be away from the ones that you love.
With 10 years under your belt already, do you feel like you guys are just starting or do you guys plan to slow down after this tour? Well we absolutely we will not be slowly down at all after this tour. This is a new era of OLN that I don’t think anyone is ready for. You can mark my words on that one. PHOTOS: Daniel Shippey INTERVIEW: Tamara Fuentes ANSWERED BY: Trevor Wentworth
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HOME: Boston, MA NOW JAMMING: Before The Waves (Full-Length - Neon Gold & Columbia) CURRENTLY: On 42 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
tour this summer with Panic! At The Disco and Walk The Moon
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NOTHING SAYS GENUINE LIKE A
band started by childhood friends; and that’s exactly what you get with the up and coming indie band Magic Man. What started with Alex Caplow and Sam Vanderhoop during college has now become a five-piece act that is truly started to gain traction. Although, Magic Man didn’t become what it is today until two years after their college graduation, it seems its founding members are focusing more on their music than their degrees of Graphic Design and Child Development. “It was definitely something we always wanted to do and we were lucky enough to get enough interest from our label, Neon Gold and Columbia,” Sam said. “When we started playing together on the record it became clearer that maybe we could do it and make a living doing it,” he continued. While making music in dorms rooms, the original duo’s only resources were their talent and a laptop, but Magic Man has progressed exponentially since their start. Magic Man began playing basement frat shows and it’s in that very environment of playing live that they decided the direction they wanted their sound to go. “We realized how much we loved playing energetic danceable music [with] more classic rock instrumentation instead of it just being DJs backtracking everything and karaoke,” Sam expressed. This sound was also something they tried very hard to carry onto their new record, Before The Waves, which dropped last month. “Our first album was sort of a low-fi bedroom pop sound with little electronics; now our new album has a lot more work into it. We have a better experience in terms of production and more resources,” Alex explained. “The songs are more rock oriented and larger in scale I would say, but we still have intimate moments on the album as well.” Before The Waves is Magic Mans’ first release with a major label, and it’s been a long time coming for the band since they finished mastering it almost a year ago. That being said, it was well worth the wait and they it couldn’t be more excited for people to finally hear it and get to know every track on the record. “We have been playing a lot of the songs live and have gotten pretty great reactions. It will be great when everyone will actually know all of the words to the songs,” Sam said. “I personally am so excited and we’re really proud of it.” This record was not only a long-term project, but also quite an extensive one. Magic Man wrote and recorded most of it in their home studio in Providence Rhode Island, but they then traveled to New York to work with Producer Alex Aldi who has worked with acts like Passion Pit, Holy Ghost!, and others. “We spent some time there and did some additional production work. Then we mixed it and mastered it there last summer,” Sam said. Before The Waves may be Magic Man’s first major label release; but getting signed to Neon Gold & Columbia has been a highlight for the band in and of itself. Alex called
it a major turning point in their career, and so far it has been a very fulfilling experience. “I think one of the best things, obviously being able to do this, play music, earn a living doing that.” Sam shared. “Another great thing is meeting so many great people, either bands that we’ve got the chance to tour with or people out on a label. All of our teams that we work with every day, we would be crazy if we did this without them.” On top of that, being able to tour full-time is icing on top of their record deal cake, and traveling is one of the best parts of their musical journey. “The best part is meeting people and making friends and seeing live music all the way,” Sam shared. Alex also added that constantly touring is also the hardest part about being in a band. “We love our lifestyle but sometimes when we’re away for a couple of months part of us misses having a stable place to be for more than just one day,” he admitted. But, they take it with a grain of salt. “Then once we get home we get antsy after a few days and want to be back on the road,” he said. “Definitely, there are moments where you miss your friends and family back home or you miss having a place to put your toiletries and not just in little bags in your backpack, the logistical things. But at the end of the day we are still so lucky to be able to travel to so many places for our job.” Not only does Magic Man love what they do, they also love being a part of the indie/synth/rock popularity wave as their genre seems to be dominating the music scene, radio airplay, and music outlets alike. Magic Man is proud to be a part of their specific musical style, but they also love the sense of community that comes with being a musician and helping out bands in their genre (like the recent remix they created for Australian band, The Griswolds). “Obviously with this kind of music it’s what we love and we love making it and seeing it become more popular. It feels like it’s a great time to be a band. Especially being a band in our genre,” Sam noted. Not to mention, feeling like a part of a community also allows opportunities to tour with and get to know your favorite bands. Magic Man gets to see a great show every night and learn from musicians they admire. “Especially like Walk The Moon (one of my favorite bands), it’s pretty incredible to be able to play with those guys, and we’ve been able to play with them and get to know them,” Sam said. Although their tour with Panic! At The Disco and Walk The Moon ends August 8th, Magic Man is heading back out on tour with a couple more their favorite bands, Small Pools and Panama Wedding this fall. They kick off their almost two week west coast run in Houston Texas on November 12th, so don’t miss it if you have a chance. If they won’t be stopping in your city, don’t worry, Magic Man will make their way to you soon; but until then enjoy Before The Waves, it will definitely tide you over. PHOTOS: Tarina Doolittle INTERVIEW & STORY: Jennifer Boylen
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HOME: Los Angeles, CA NOW JAMMING: “Lost My Touch” CURRENTLY: Just finished tour & just released their new album, Hebrews
IT’S NOT UNCOMMON THAT A BAND
goes “out of fashion” after being around for almost 15 years. Some bands aren’t even hard working or fortunate enough to last that long. Say Anything is certainly an exception, closing in on their 15th year together, they’ve just released their sixth studio album, Hebrews, with Equal Vision Records. They recently finished their tour with The Front Bottoms, The So So Glos, and You Blew It! We had the opportunity to speak to Max Bemis in-depth about his long career in music, working with his wife Sherri, and Hebrews. With the first listen through the new album, you can tell a lot of time and emotion went into creating it. While most musicians would claim any album takes a lot of work, and they’re usually right, there’s a certain higher level that Say Anything brings to the table with this record. In the studio version, there are a lot of orchestral features that are quite beautiful and complex. We were innately curious about how these would transfer over during their live tour and future performances of the songs. Max explained, “Live I think is a lot more about the emotional experience and the crowd interaction. It will be very different than the record but not in a way that I think will be unexciting. It will make the live show actually mean something rather than reproducing.”
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He also went on about how working with such talented musicians in the band makes it much easier for them to “translate the string parts in a really cool and original way.” The emotive lyrics paired with the orchestral instruments gives it a theatrical element, almost making you feel like you’re listening to an Israeli musical or something of the sort. Take “Six Six Six” for example, which includes a beautiful string orchestra in the background, the last thing someone would be likely to expect with a title of that sort. Max recalled, “When I sat down and decided to make a record with strings, a lot of the songs were me trying to write traditionally and realizing that with the strings it would come out completely different than anything I had ever done. But all I know is that I think the only originality comes from the record is that it’s loud and embrace it, but it’s also played with strings.” Part of what makes Say Anything unique is how complex their music can be. Although many people might know them from their most well known song, “Wow, I Can Get Sexual, Too” from their 2004 album, ...Is a Real Boy, they have a lot more to offer. It’s clear that Max and the rest of the band spent a lot of time making sure that the sound was impeccable. The lyrics are certainly emotive, although with
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a live album you have the ability to go back and correct yourself that you don’t have during a live show. Another unusual aspect about this album is that they have 16 guest vocals featured in only 12 tracks, including Max’s wife Sherri Dupree-Bemis. A lot of thought usually goes into selecting vocalists to contribute to an album, and the right artist can add a lot to the ambience of a track. “It definitely happened naturally. I was leaning towards having maybe two or three people be on the record and be really selective about it, but there were just too many people that I wanted to collaborate with who I could think of and they kept popping into my head, and the song too. This is the first record I’ve made without Coby [Linder] who was in the band since the very beginning,” Max expressed. He went into further detail, explaining, “This was the first time where it was really just me and a bunch of musicians that I hired or who I was friends with that could contribute. So I kind of felt like in the spirit of that, why not have different vocalists contributing? Because Say Anything is so much looser of a concept and it’s so much looser of a band now. I don’t think it’s strictly just me doing Say Anything as much as that’s probably the majority of it.” He certainly has a lot of opportunities to play with really incredible musicians, as he pointed out, and even now there are a lot of people in the band who he grew up listening to, which is “trippy.” It’s easy to imagine how uncomfortable it can be to view or replay your own art, whether you’re an actor, a model, or a musician. Sometimes you pour your heart into something and expose yourself, making you feel vulnerable. In the moment it can feel right, and later on you can feel so exposed. Max felt that he’s able to listen to the record very comfortably because it’s not just him the whole time, making it a lot more fun to listen to. Besides that, several of the guest vocalists wrote their own lyrics, adding a bit of surprise to the mix. A large part of art in general, but especially music, is human experience. In the third track, “Judah’s Decapitation,” it’s a tale of sorts which paints a picture of what it can be like as a musician and having to take all the flack and backlash from fans online through the years, about how a band or members have changed. Fans always seem to have their opinions of why a band changes styles, and they use the Internet as their stomping grounds to announce it, not thinking or caring about how it can make people feel if and when they read it. Exploring deeper, Max explained how much truth the song has to what he hears about his own life and band, “Some of them are pretty dead-on close from things that I have read over and over and over again. The whole thing about me being soft - now that I’m married and not on drugs, that I’ve heard probably 50 times or more. Since I 50 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
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got married the music did make a departure so a lot of people wanted to ‘blame that’ on the fact that I was happy. And to be honest I still take offense to it. I think it’s a really hideous way to think about things, but at the same time everyone is entitled to their opinion and it’s really the sad truth.” Though hearing negative things about your life constantly may get to you, as a musician, as Max pointed out, “I’d rather have people talking about something than not giving a shit at all.” As is true with anything, the more people talk, the more attention it gets. The song, however, is more about how he deals with things like negative opinions and not the words themselves. Being very thin skinned, it can be harder than for some people to hear negative words spoken about your musical talent, accomplishments, and your family. Words to the wise, he continued to tell us that when he goes on a message board and reads really terrible, awful words, it’s the equivalent of being online bullied. He says, “If you’re a 14-year-old girl in high school and they’re telling you that you’re fat and ugly, people have said that to me too! Imagine that with 15 people per post of news.” Fortunately, he learns to deal with it, as do most online readers with Internet music culture becoming increasingly more popular. Max has previously said that one must write about the joy of misery, which many musicians truly take to heart. There certainly seems to be a small part in most everyone that enjoys being miserable. He says, “I think it’s part of the human experience. I spent a couple records writing about unpleasant experiences and I thought that by now I had gotten that out of my system, but I just recorded a record with my wife that was pretty much all about our love story, and I was like, ‘Oh wow, I actually got to do that for once without apologizing to Say Anything fans who didn’t want me to write love songs.’” From there, he realized he has a whole other part of him that he wanted to write about. “It was a honest thing that I came to that place, and I felt a draw towards it. I think every awesome artist, even when you think that something like Elvis Presley or ’50s doo wop music, it’s still singing about heartbreak and loss a lot of the time and that’s the two different sides of rock music is the joy and the sadness that you feel in life. So I think it’s important to write about those things or no one would feel normal, they would just think everyone is happy all of the time.” In his time as a musician, he’s had several side projects. One thing that’s exceptionally helpful to an artist’s growth can be having side projects, because they can give you a creative breather, so to speak, from the mold that your main 54 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
project or band may give you. It can affect both your main work and the work of your side project in turn. Max teamed up with Sherri Dupree-Bemis of Eisley to form Perma, and he recalled experiencing that side-project effect, “I think before I even wrote the Perma record, as a thing, because we just talked about it and were just waiting for a good time, I knew the next Say Anything record would be really dark because I hadn’t written anything about my feelings that were dark, and they developed over time even more so.” Since we’re all about the positive notes and the highlights of one’s career, we asked Max to tell us about his. He had a cool story to tell about the time they played the CMJ festival after they put out ...Is a Real Boy, “It was the first time we had played with my favorite band Saves The Day, and I walked into sound check without having ever met the singer Chris and he started playing one of our songs and I had no idea he liked us. It was just the trippiest thing of all time, it still trips me out,” he said. “And now he’s one of my great close friends. But to this day sometimes I’ll just look at him and think, is this happening? Because I grew up idolizing him. So I think that moment where it became real I was like, okay this is just a guy who likes my band, he’s not just think colorful character for me to try and emulate. And since then it’s been a nonstop trip of moments and it’s pretty weird and I love it.” PHOTOS: Matt Vogel INTERVIEW: Jenn Stookey STORY: Daisy Marietta
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TOUR ROUND UP
PHOTO: Kaiden Seven
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TOUR ROUND UP
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PHOTO: Sam Polonsky
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PHOTO: Kaiden Seven
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TOUR ROUND UP PHOTO: Sam Polonsky
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Twin Peaks ALBUM
Wild Onion RATING
SOUNDS LIKE Smith-Westerns Speedy Ortiz The Orwells RECOMMENDED TRACKS “I Found a New Way” “Flavor” “Strawberry Smoothie” TRACKS 1
I Found A New Way
Mirror of Time
Sloop Jay D
No Way Out
RELEASE DATE August 5th, 2014
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Chicago up-and-coming youngsters Twin Peaks is back with their new sophomore album Wild Onion. As a follow up to last year’s Sunken, the new album is a mature expansion of the band’s grungy garage sound. Wild Onion opens with their latest single “I Found a New Way”, a dizzying ’60s beach-infused song. The guitar’s strums are wonky and the vocals are harsh; a Twin Peaks sound we are all so familiar with and adore. But it is their second track “Strawberry Smoothie” that took me by surprise. It is rowdy and quite tart, but progressively gets much softer and sweet towards the end; almost as if biting into a bright red plump strawberry. This subtle saccharine sound can also be heard in other songs such as “Sweet Thing”. The album then gives the listener a taste of the delicious rhythms that make up “Flavor”. The catchy chorus, “Flavor your heart and your soul” will have you coming back for a second and third listen. The slick and polished guitar solo towards the end absolutely illuminates the smoke and ramshackle of a song that prefaces. “Flavor” is by far the highlight of the album. Twin Peaks has a wild whimsical charm about their music that is reminiscent of old classics rock tunes, but with a modern, basement DIY twist. All of their songs have something that is ingeniously recognizable yet unidentifiable and consistently changing. Just when I want to name a song that has the same guitar hook, it will take a turn for the obscure and psychedelic. The only consistent aspect of the album is how exuberant, vivacious and lo-fi the songs will be. As a whole, Wild Onion is clever, tasteful, melodic and quite dreamy; a perfect representation of the band’s ability and instinct for writing intricate melodies and beautifully unpredictable songs. The album is punchy, edgy and completely raw. A must listen before summer ends!
REVIEW: Theresa Pham
Room ALBUM Moonchaser Emo newcomers, Living Room, are making friends with the right people. Premiering their single, “The Physics of Intention” with both Noisey, and The Onion’s AV Club, the band harnesses the stylings of early Braid, while weaving their sound with influences of emo revivalists similar to You Blew It! and Algernon Cadwallader. The album is a strong effort to create an original sound, while still appealing to the market of emo, pop punk, and post hardcore. However, the record falls short of doing so, due to the song inconsistency, and band experience. The record struggles to find its structure. Almost every song goes in a completely different direction, without unity in an underlying sound. On some tracks, the band tries to emulate mid-2000’s screamo while at others it tackles pop-punk riffing. While the songs themselves are well written, the bands lack of direction overshadows their musicianship. Living Room shows incredible potential though, on tracks “Feet Of Snow” and “Moonchaser,” where they seem to develop an identity unique to themselves and write their strongest music as a whole. Moonchaser is a great start for Living Room, but it’s also a record where they need to learn. The talent, ability to write, and synergy with one another is strong, but the direction of the band needs improvement. If Living Room is able to take the time between this record, and the next, and tailor a sound specific to them, it may just give them a chance to become big name in their genre, and possibly others.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “I Wish We Were Leaving,” “ The Physics of Intention” & “Magnetic Service” REVIEW Nick Yacovazzi ARTIST John
& Jacob ALBUM John & Jacob It’s hard to describe John & Jacob’s sound. It’s not fully country, but it’s not exactly folk either. It’s not even rock. Instead, it’s a unique hybrid of all three genres—a refreshing alternative to the stereotypical southern sound. The band’s namesakes, John Davidson and Jacob Bryant, hailing from Birmingham, AL, pay homage to their southern roots by writing non-traditional country music laced with Beatles influenced rock. Each song on the self-titled debut album features the band’s incredible songwriting ability matched with their musicianship and captivating vocal harmonies. “Be My Girl,” which appeared on ABC’s hit TV show Nashville, steals the spotlight on the album. It’s definitely the song you’ll be gravitating towards with every listen of the album. Whereas John & Jacob kicks off with a bang on the quick and spirited “Ride With Me,” the closing songs (“Think About You” and “I’d Go Back”) bring the album to a slow end, allowing you to catch your breath and really take in the vocal ability of Davidson and Bryant. However you view John & Jacob, one thing is for sure: this is not your parent’s country music. It’s groundbreaking, revolutionary and paving the way for a new generation of country.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Be My Girl” & “Guilty Free” REVIEW Jessica Klinner
McQuaid ALBUM Heart&Soul The 19-year-old college student and Nashville transplant, Michael McQuaid’s debut EP Heart&Soul contains the type of content that is to be expected from any boy his age: relationships and swoonworthy love ballads. The six-track compilation is a solid pop-rock composition without a lot of fuss. Simple backtracks and the use of stripped down classic instruments keep each song clean and uncluttered, which fits the style of McQuaid’s raspy vocals quite well. Each track contains little keyboard melodies subtly floating around in the background, with the layering of multiple guitars in the forefront, especially in “Say” and “Sleepwalking.” Piano ballad, “Pitch Black,” is an emotional configuration about the internal struggle of identity with a female guest vocalist whose harmonies compliment McQuaid’s. It evenly weaves in the use of synthesizers without distracting from the piano melody. Being so young, there is certainly potential for McQuaid’s songwriting abilities to grow. Lyrically, the songs are slightly cliché, but there is more than enough time to progress and improve in all areas of his craft and his prospective musical identity that will set him apart from other pop-rock solo artists.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Say” & “Sleepwalking” REVIEW Haley Black
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