COIN – NECK DEEP – MOOSE BLOOD – NEW BEAT FUND – BEAUTIFUL BODIES & MORE
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editor-in-chief jenn stookey
co-founder – art director cara bahniuk co-founder – photo editor ashley osborn managing editor jessica klinner online editor nick yacovazzi copy editor courtney dondelinger digital marketing manager olivia adams design assistant benjamin bacon co-founder – legal – finance mckenzie hughes contributing photographers
cara bahniuk, demi cambridge, jordan fischels, lori gutman, rachel kober, casey lee, charlie martel, natalie montaner, savana ogburn, ashley osborn, heather phillips, sam polonsky, taylor rambo, sam roenfeldt, nicole fara silver, kara smarsh and clark terrell
contributing writers (online & publication)
lauren ball, haley black, jennifer boylen, geoff burns, haley buske, colleen casey, rebecca del castillo, ally fisher, trevor figge, caroline hall, annette hansen, jessica klinner, zoe marquedant, bridjet mendyuck, theresa pham, alyssa schmidt, alex, shimalla, catie suliga, nick yacovazzi and bailey zeigler
digital marketing team
geoff burns and tim mcgovern
laura arthurs, kristen torres, samia mirza, sarah akomanyi and brad laplante
_________________________ website twitter highlightmagazine.net @highlightzine facebook instagram facebook.com/highlightmagazine @highlightzine _________________________ thank you
thank you between the buried and me, becca wilson, big picture media, red bull records, the catalyst publicity group, bands that jam 4 africa, new torch entertainment, epitaph records, secret service pr, big hassle, our incredible staff of writers and photographers, and of course our resilient readers!
_________________________ 06 young rising sons sam polonsky
07 citizen andy swartz
the griswolds heather phillips
the wombats cara bahniuk
i the mighty ashley osborn
funeral for a friend demi cambridge
walk the moon heather phillips
05 this or that 08 clothing highlight 11 label highlight 12 venue highlight 14 industry highlight 16 noteworthy non-profit 18 highlighted artists 19 film highlight 20 warped tour 2015 24 coin 28 neck deep 32 moose blood 34 new beat fund 38 beautiful bodies 40 between the buried and me 48 tour round up neon trees modern baseball motion city soundtrack the vamps imagine dragons 56 reviews
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AARON WEST AND THE ROARING TWENTIES
THE WONDER YEARS HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 5
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME 40
NEW BEAT FUND 34
WARPED TOUR 20
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NECK DEEP 28
38 BEAUTIFUL BODIES
32 MOOSE BLOOD
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46 TOUR ROUND UP
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FOUNDERS Phil Carr and Alex Levine (The Gaslight Anthem) LOCATION Manchester, U.K. and New Jersey
WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND TIGER CUTS?
Alex and I met backstage at a festival a few years ago. Over a few drinks, we realized that we both had a lot in common when it came fashion and what we wanted from a brand. I have worked in the fashion industry for years representing brands and labels, but I always wanted to start a brand of my own. Alex already had the concept for a brand and a vision of creating a lifestyle around it so it was just great timing. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR BRAND REPRESENTS?
The brand represents clean cuts and classic designs. We both wanted to create a lifestyle that reflected our interest in music, fashion, tattoos and traditional barbers. We like the idea of looking your best, being well groomed and making an effort on how you get dressed up. We don’t want to be pigeonholed or isolate any customers— it’s just what we both look for in a brand. We want it to be accessible to everyone. It comes from a combination of mutual interest and influences as well as my time in the fashion industry and Alex’s experience he has gained from being a musician and life on the road.
THREE PERSONAL FAVORITE DESIGNS?
SOCIAL CLUB TEE – This is a favorite of mine as it does exactly what it says. It’s making everyone aware that you get what we are aiming for and want to be a part of it. SEAL TEE – This is one of our newer shirts, and it has had a great reaction. We wanted to introduce different branding, and this is a newer design Alex came up with. CROSS TEE – This was one of our first designs. It’s clean and simple. We like understated pieces rather than inyour-face designs. It’s about a classic look. You can’t go wrong with a white t-shirt and blue jeans— it’s timeless. WHY PEOPLE SHOULD CHECK OUT YOUR BRAND: We want our customers to feel like they are part of the gang. It’s never been about just selling a shirt or jacket to
whomever. It’s about creating a lifestyle scene, where people can recognize that it doesn’t just stop at clothing but involves the whole reason you are styled in that way from our influences outside of fashion. I guess it’s an extension of our combined interests.
WHY DID YOU START YOUR BRAND?
We wanted to do something other than just another t-shirt brand or gimmick. We don’t want to be a fad or flash in the pan. Going forward, we have plans and are working towards opening our own stores as well as releasing our own grooming products. At the moment, we are working on our first cut-and-sew collection. Alex looks after the design and more creative side of the brand, and I’m more behind the scenes.
f /TigerCutsClothing t @TigerCuts1 i @TigerCuts
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YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO...
Six years ago, a Michigan State University student by the name of Grant Kwicienski began his rise to success by producing EDM remixes, releasing tracks on Soundcloud, and performing at local house parties and clubs. A year later, his stage name transitioned from GK to GRiZ, and his career quickly gained momentum when Derek Vincent Smith of Pretty Lights invited him to open for them on tour. On top of his solo career, Kwicienski has since founded his own record label in Detroit that radiates positivity and values community. Of course they appreciate donations, but All Good Records is extremely generous, offering all of their artists’ music for free download. The All Good Records family is tight-knit and shows their support for each other through collaboration and tour support. The fusion of EDM, Motown, funk and disco, this record label is home to the Floozies, Manic Focus, the Geek x VRV, Muzzy Bearr and GRiZ himself.
GRiZ Grant Kwicienski, one-man wonder and All Good Records founder, has had an extraordinary influence on the world of EDM and has created an enterprise through recruiting like-minded people and musicians of the same genre to come together. Artists in the EDM sector have a philosophy of working together. Four full lengths later, GRiZ has released an album titled Say It Loud with recruitments from Mike Avery, Talib Kweli and Orlando Napier, to name a few, which are his most well-known collaborations thus far. The producer is spending the remainder of his summer playing festivals across the U.S. including a headlining show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, with support from his label mates the Floozies, Muzzy Bearr and Manic Focus. GRiZ’s discography is available for free or paywhat-you-want at mynameisgriz.com.
Listen To: “Need This (ft. The Floozies)”
THE FLOOZIES GRiZ wasn’t the only All Good Records artist that began his career in a college town. Matt Hill (producer/guitarist) and his brother Mark Hill (drums) are from the small town of Lawrence, Kansas, home of the University of Kansas Jayhawks. The brothers, who call themselves the Floozies, have mastered the art of EDM and find pride in creating high-energy performances whether they are at a small venue or a large festival. The duo have been busy all summer long playing outdoor festivals such as Alive Music Fest, Moonrise, Summer Set and the Werk Out Music Festival. They will continue to tour throughout October with Big Gigantic and bring even more buoyant performances to cities around the United States. Any of their five studio albums, EPs and singles can be downloaded for free at flooziesduo.com.
Listen To: “Getaway”
MANIC FOCUS John “JmaC” McCarten’s musical training as a classical pianist took an unlikely turn when his passion switched over to the world of hip-hop and electronic music. Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, McCarten moved to Chicago to get some much-needed exposure in the big city. Manic Focus wastes no time when it comes to producing new material. Full-length albums have been released every year since his debut, Definition of the Rhythm, dropped in 2011. Manic Focus is best enjoyed in a live setting with heightened bass vibrations and an enticing light show, which fans will have the opportunity to catch on his latest tour that extends now through September. Like all of the artists at All Good Records, Manic Focus albums can be downloaded for free or by donation at manicfocus.com.
Listen To: “Dedicated to the Service”
WORDS: Haley Black
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VENUE HIGHLIGHT SILENT BARN - BROOKLYN, NY
HISTORY The sudden downfall of Brooklyn-based venue Death By Audio was brought about by Vice, who bought the building along with Brooklyn’s other beloved DIY venue, Glasslands. Like much of the area, the once unwanted warehouse and dingy places that were Brooklyn’s concert spaces were amidst the latter half of a land grab. Williamsburg was completing its transformation into the hipster capital of the world and venues like DBA were the casualties. There’s some question as to whether DBA in particular took a buy-out and eased the transition, but either way, the space is slotted to become something far less punk: office space. The space may be filled, but the hole the venue left in the concert scene can still be felt. Where were the DIY shows going to happen now that two of their main local venues were gone? The good thing is that the culture of this scene is to always seek out new basements and back rooms to play shows in until the police or the landlord drives them out. Enter Silent Barn. The collectively-directed art and performance space hosts exhibitions, events and, of course, concerts. It embodies the DIY spirit and is just about as quintessentially Brooklyn as it gets. From the rack of ’zines tucked into the corner to the work “stewdios” in the back, Silent Barn is a resurrection of everything that is being pushed out of other parts of Brooklyn.
WHY PLAY HERE? Admittedly, it’s fairly hipster, but it’s also non-hierarchical, honest and won’t change you $8 for a cup of coffee. Through a network of volunteers (known as “chefs”) and donors, the space has been able to blossom in Brooklyn and signed a 10-year lease for their 603 Bushwick Ave location in 2012. The space is now one that seems utterly at ease with itself; it’s the concert hall equivalent of the eccentric, artsy kid you went to high school with who was always fine with being a little different. This multidisciplinary space has the kind of heart that the scene needs following the loss of DBA and Glasslands. It’s a little weird and experimental, but everyone is welcome. That is, until the area is gentrified, and as sad as that somewhat inevitable day will be, it will not be the end of the scene. The show will go on, and it will simply move somewhere else. DIY will live on in Brooklyn no matter how high the rent gets, and people will always, in the words of DBA founder Edan Wilber, “start [their] own fucking show space.”
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REVIEW: Zoe Marquedant
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cory 14 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
NAME: Cory Johnson
LOCATION: Orange County, California/Nashville, Tennessee JOB: Sound Engineer/Front of House What is your personal story/why did you get involved in the industry? Wow, this is such an interesting question because it can be answered in so many different ways [laughs]. Why I got involved in the music industry might actually stem from the time I won Scorpions tickets as an impressionable young boy, and my mom not letting me go. Maybe I’ve subconsciously been spiting her this whole time! So, needless to say, I always loved music growing up, and I started out in the industry as a touring musician (guitar specifically), but as much as I tried suppressing it, I was always more drawn to the production and sound image aspect of everything I was doing. Like with guitar, I was always more inclined to think about how my tone sounded and collecting amps rather than being a guitar nerd, and eventually I was fully involved in all of the band’s songwriting and pre-production recording because I loved doing it so much, and they thought I did a pretty good job at it. After that band ended and I had my life back, I found myself more motivated to transition into production, and ultimately live sound, full time.
You work as a sound engineer at the House of Blues in Anaheim and you’re currently on Warped Tour working as the tour manager/front of house for I Killed The Prom Queen and front of house for New Years Day. What is the biggest difference between running sound at HOB vs. on the road? Is there one? Yes, it’s vastly different! Mixing on tour is a very unique experience. You’re out there to make the band’s show run successfully, which can be a very daunting task at times because there are many different variables which can get in the way of accomplishing that at times. You’re also living with 7 or 8 other people on a bus so there’s that aspect as well. It’s quite literally wild at times, and I love it.
What was the biggest challenge when you were first starting out? and what is the biggest challenge for you now? At first, it was all about convincing everyone I knew what I was doing [laughs]. Now that I’m working with bands carrying way more of their own production, and sometimes having to create a production list before tours, I have way more to look after, but it’s nice to actually need stage hands!
What is one common misconception about your job? That I’m the “DJ.”
For you personally, what makes a good show? Equal crowd and band energy. That’s what it’s all about. But beyond that, having a quality PA and good sounding room to work with is a make or break situation.
What are three of your most memorable career moments? 1) Playing my own music as a headlining act to a soldout crowd 2) Mixing FOH on a headlining tour to a 5000 capacity sold-out crowd with our own production. 3) Soundwave Festival for being probably my most memorable tour overall.
Is there anything else you want to accomplish? I honestly just want to keep having a good time doing what I’m doing! From where I started to where I’m at now has already been a wild ride so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next!
Be sure to say hello to Cory this September while he’s mixing for Set It Off on the Canada leg of All Time Low’s Future Hearts Tour!
t @thecoryjohnson i @coryjohnson
PHOTO: Jamie Hope
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Morgan Fisher was only 12 years old when she first met Peter Pretorius in a Michigan boardroom, a result of coming to work with her mother for the day. During their meeting, Pretorius told Fisher his horrifying story of being stranded in Mozambique for 10 days without food or water, where he watched thousands of people die daily. When he was finally reunited with his loved ones back home in South Africa, he decided to dedicate his life to helping the people he met during those 10 grueling days. Enter JAM. “I was very overwhelmed when I heard this story, but was so inspired by Peter’s selflessness and commitment,” Fisher said. 16 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
But meeting Pretorius and hearing about the creation of his non-profit organization, JAM, is only half of the story. After this eye-opening encounter, Fisher started fundraising wherever and however she could. The majority of her friends were musically talented, so she approached them about playing a benefit show for JAM at the Pike Room in Pontiac, Michigan. The outcome was far better than Fisher could have ever imagined. “The room flooded until we reached maximum capacity,” she remembered. “This is when I knew that it was just the beginning of my journey with JAM!” Still riding the high from the concert, Fisher pitched the idea of using benefit shows to create a full-time enterprising
organization called Bands that Jam for Africa (BTJ4A) to Pretorius. BTJ4A organizes concerts, sells merchandise, and then gives 100 percent of their proceeds to JAM, which uses this money to feed and educate children in South Africa. “Our relationship with JAM ensures that proceeds from our shows and merch go directly to the community we aim to help,” Fisher said. “Our business model is simple: buy a ticket, enjoy the show, and change a life.” Fisher recently spent some time in Angola with JAM’s media team, documenting the stories of villages that have been helped by her effort, and the highlight of her entire career came from this trip. While they were drilling for water, she watched as the community came alive with excitement about this fresh commodity that is so often taken for granted. “You could truly see the children having more vibrant, joyful energy where JAM was feeding,” she said. “It gave us so much inspiration to raise the funds for the villages we are not yet in.” But Fisher admitted that her visit to the malnutrition clinic was the most moving experience from her time in Angola. “I saw children die before my eyes,” Fisher recalled. “My heart broke in ways I didn’t know possible.”
When the band is as invested in the cause as the organization, the show and atmosphere of the event reflect it. In July, Bands that Jam for Africa put on yet another event: this time on Mandela Day in South Africa. The organization partnered with the country’s chart topping artists MonArk, Moses Metro Man and Bouwer Bosch. Fisher is committed to working with more South African-based bands due to her strong belief in JAM’s model of ‘Helping Africa Help Itself.’ “The African artists understand the poverty and reality in a very tangible way,” Fisher explained. However, as the organization continues to grow, Fisher can’t help but get excited about the future, especially the possibility of working with Switchfoot.
“THERE IS SUCH
A HISTORY OF USING MUSIC AS A MECHANISM FOR SOCIAL CHANGE...I BELIEVE THOSE COMMUNITIES HOLD THE POWER TO INFLUENCE THE MASSES.“
“I have so much respect for the way they carry themselves not only as artists, but also as human beings,” she said. “They have a great vision.” She’s also open to expanding the organization if she finds someone else whose vision is aligned with that of Bands that Jam for Africa. Fisher believes that platforms like Warped Tour or Take Action, which are also motivated to help others, would make great partners for the organization.
Since her first meeting with Pretorius, Fisher has had an overwhelming desire to be based in Johannesburg, South Africa, in order to be closer to the cause that she fights for.
“There is such a history of using music as a mechanism for social change,” Fisher said. “I believe those communities hold the power to influence the masses.”
“I believe I am at the center of what I was put on this earth to do,” she said. “The challenge is to remain in this place.”
Although Bands that Jam for Africa has been around for a few years now, Fisher confesses that this is only the beginning of her journey. As she continues to nourish the organization in South Africa, she’ll also be working closely with JAM International to create marketing campaigns, and, of course, there will be plenty more benefit concerts in the future.
When asked how she goes about setting up a benefit concert, Fisher answered simply: “It’s just like any other gig but with a different spirit.” The non-profit is selective about which artists they chose to work with because it’s imperative that the musicians care about the cause as well.
“BTJ4A is my passion and creative outlet,” Fisher said. “It perfectly marries my heart for Africa and music.”
t @BTJ4A f /BandsthatJAMforAfrica “We want to give musicians the opportunity to be educated on the social issue, not just play a gig and move on to the next city,” Fisher commented.
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ARTISTS BROOKE HUMMEL Location: Boone, North Carolina Current Single: “Favorite Song” Straight out of Boone, North Carolina, Brooke Hummel is a rising southern pop sensation. Though young, Hummel shows promise with her vocal range and extremely tough work ethic, making her a force to be reckoned with for the next years to come.
SAM TOLSON Location: Columbus, Ohio Current album: “Dream” Traveling with nothing but an open mind and guitar, Sam Tolson has traveled far and wide with her music. Based out of Columbus, OH, this singer/songwriter is dedicated to sharing her songs across the globe. 2015 is already shaping to be a major year for Tolson, with her brand new single, and an upcoming sophomore album release.
VICTORY JONES Location: New York, New York Current Single: “Warriors” Dropping monster beats and killer raps, New York City’s Victory Jones is nothing short of a winner. The hip/hop, R&B artist meshes the flow of M.I.A with the soul of Lorde to create a pop sensation special to her city itself.
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WORDS: Nick Yacovazzi
Sometimes you read a book that makes you rip through the pages while still making you contemplate your own life— a story that manages to make you laugh, bite your nails and still gain new insight along the way. Paper Towns by John Green is that kind of book. Paper Towns the movie, however, aims for this status but never quite reaches it. Paper Towns is a story about the mystery that is Margo Roth Spiegelman. The narrator Quentin, aka “Q”, believes he is in love with Margo, who is his neighbor and the girl whose life seems like one big, exciting enigma. Once childhood friends and now barely acquaintances separated by social status, Q is only a speck in the life of Margo. Until one night, he isn’t. For this night, Margo invites Q into her world with nine vengeful tasks. After their night of shenanigans, Q thinks his life and his relationship with Margo have changed for the better, but he wakes up the next morning to find that she has disappeared. With the help of his closest friends, Q works to put Margo’s clues together to find her. The question, though, is who is Q really trying to find? The movie version of this coming-of-age tale manages to hold the basic story from the source material intact, to gain several good laughs and to even ask the important questions, but it is impossible not to feel a small bit of emptiness while watching. It is a fun movie and the story is basically all there, but it feels like the heart is missing. The point of the story is to unravel the mystery of Margo, to start to see her as a regular person and not as the sensationalized fairy tale that the people around her made her to be. Q’s story is about a boy who learns what it means to really get to know the human behind the myth. However, the movie takes too long to get there, and some of the power that the book has is lost. The movie does make up for this a bit with the story of Q and his friends. It does a nice job of showing how Q is so caught up in the illusion of Margo and his infatuation with her that he continually puts his friends on the back burner and misses all the quirks and complexities that make them so great. While it’s hard not to feel a little gypped in the portrayal of Margo, there is still a valuable lesson to be learned. Paper Towns forces us to ask ourselves if we really know the people around us? Do we fall in love with people or with fantasies? It’s a tale most of us are probably all too familiar with. The movie tells us this, but the book makes us feel it. Hate to say it: the movie was decent, but the book was definitely better. REVIEW: Annette Hansen
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What is there to say about Vans Warped Tour that hasn’t been said already? It’s a mecca of sweaty tattooed teens who eat, sleep and breathe music, all trying to outdo each other as the one who does it the most. Despite the hailstorm that Warped Tour has been facing the past few years, 2015 especially, the summer festival continues to draw massive crowds at every stop of the tour. Once a festival of true punk music, Warped Tour has now evolved into a festival for more than the OG punk to enjoy, which is something the festival has been taking a lot of hurt from. However, one has to stop and think of the logistics. It is a smart move to have music from pop-punk to hardcore to pop to EDM. In this time where the Internet is the true king, people have access to so much music, expanding their horizons on a daily basis. It’s rare to ask someone what they listen to and have them only spit back one genre. In fact, the Beatport stage (for EDM, rap and hip-hop artists) at the Chicago Warped Tour stop had a larger crowd most of the day than the Kevin Says stage, which hosted acts such as Jule Vera and Knuckle Puck. It’s always hot, the weather is unpredictable, and accidents happen. But one thing stays true to Warped Tour: it’s a festival for the music lover no matter what. All bands put their soul into their performance, and fans give it their all to show their appreciation for the band who has changed, and maybe even saved, their lives. You won’t get that anywhere else except the summer during Vans Warped Tour.
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Bebe Rexha - Moose Blood - Jule Vera - PVRIS - Beautiful Bodies - Pup - Beartooth This Wild Life - The Wonder Years PHOTOS: Casey Lee, Charlie Martel, Heather Phillips, Sam Polosnky and Taylor Rambo
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HONESTY HOUR WITH COIN HOME: Nashville, Tennessee NOW JAMMING: “Run” CURRENTLY: On tour with Walk The Moon
LIFE HAS BEEN A WHIRLWIND
for the band COIN this year. They released their debut LP toured with Passion Pit, Betty Who, Neon Trees and just played Lollapalooza. It would almost be an understatement to say the band have been on the fast track to success since winning Belmont University’s Rock Showcase in November of 2012, but there’s really no other way to describe it. Though Nashville this is their home base, it isn’t where they’ve found most of their success. When looking back to their time starting out in Music City, drummer Ryan Winnen stated, “I think we were all very wrapped up in the idea of being this hometown hero band, and we’ve seen much more success actually outside of Nashville, from leaving, you know? … We never thought that would be the case. We thought we’d just own this town every time we came through here, that’s not the case at all. So that was a good wake up call. To see ticket sales increase, but not idealize your hometown image because a lot of bands never leave their hometowns.” Speaking of home, they were very honest about what it’s like to come home after travelling so much. “I’d say it feels like you’re stuck in this black hole, like time stops,” guitarist Joe Memmel described. “And you don’t think that stuff is moving forward in your hometown, and then you get back home and your friend’s baby was born, and all this crazy stuff, and you’re like, ‘Wait, what? I was gone for a few days’ but it’s really a couple months. It’s actually a pretty weird thing.” They also talked about a side of touring that not many people are willing to admit. When asked which they preferredrecording or touring- the answer from all was unanimously recording for several reasons. “It gets really monotonous. Chase [Lawrence] and I were talking about this earlier today on the phone; it get’s so drony,” Memmel said.” Everything is the same. You’re just putting your head down and walking through this same tunnel.” “You want to be playing in front of these large crowds. It’s like a dream, but you get so used to it so fast. So going back, the studio thing is very on your toes all the time and it’s a different thing every day,” vocalist and keyboardist Lawrence added. One thing that recording also provides the band is time apart, which is understandable when you work, live and travel together for extended periods of time. “When we have fights in the studio, like creative disagreements, we can get our distance and drive away, go somewhere else. Go to the grocery store and get our space,” Lawrence said. “While we’re on tour, we have to be back on stage in 30 minutes and play with each other and pretend like nothing is wrong. When in actuality, we do have a grudge with the other person.”
“It’s even worse when you’re in the van and the furthest you can get is the back of the van,” bassist Zach Dyke chimed in. Touring has one big plus that no amount of recording could make up for: seeing and interacting with their fans. “To see people’s reactions [and] to see people singing along to the words, or songs from the album, like deep tracks from the album, that’s my absolute favorite thing,” Lawrence said. They’ve also had fans bring them peaches, freshly baked donuts and other little things to show their appreciation for the group. Lawrence also mentioned how surreal it felt during a particular fan interaction. “A girl had us sign her shoes last night. It was totally premeditated; it wasn’t just in the moment like ‘You guys should sign my shoes, but I’m going to regret this tomorrow.’ She really wanted us to do something and planned on it. People are very excited, and it’s cool to see the music connecting to everyday life and know that what we’re doing means something to them just beyond one night even.” And though they get on each other’s nerves at times, they do miss each other when not crammed in a van. It’s better described as “the summer camp effect.” “I was reading an article about this the other day and it was saying how musicians will end up texting their group message as soon as they get home because they don’t remember how to function once they get home. They need the comfort of inside jokes and the people that are going to understand their inside jokes,” Dyke described. “I think last week we acknowledged that we were in a group text and we joked around about being A) sick of each other, but B) missing each other at the same time,” Winnen added. “I think we were talking about watching Netflix and eating Chinese food, waiting to leave for tour again.” Through the epic feats that come with life on the road, it’s safe to say that these guys are handling it well (and I’m not just referring to the Chinese and Netflix comment). It’s refreshing to see such an honest, self-aware and humble band break out of their local scene and take the country by storm. Their ability to create fun and relatable music will lead to an extremely successful career, and COIN cannot wait to see what their future holds. “It’s so special to see people really connect with something you poured everything in and see that it’s going to be someone’s soundtrack to their week or their summer, or for years to come,” Lawrence said. “It’s been really neat to watch it all unfold.” PHOTO: Sam Polonsky | INTERVIEW & STORY: Bailey Zeigler
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PHOTO: Landon Speers | INTERVIEW & STORY: Lauren Ball HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 29
HOME: Wrexham, United Kingdom NOW JAMMING: “Gold Steps” CURRENTLY: Playing mosh pit worthy sets on the Vans Warped Tour
IN THE WORDS OF THEIR NEW SINGLE,
“Gold Steps,” Neck Deep have “been moving mountains that [they] once had to climb.” In only a few short years, the Welsh rockers have grown from the bedroom project of vocalist Ben Barlow and guitarist Lloyd Roberts to one of the most promising acts in the genre. They’ve signed to Hopeless Records, won the Kerrang! Award for Best British Newcomer 2014 and are currently on their second Warped Tour. While touring the U.S., the band are also preparing to release their highly anticipated second full-length, Life’s Not Out To Get You, and judging by the first few songs, it is no sophomore slump. The band have only just begun to play their new material live, but the response, like the album title, has been extremely positive. “There’s definitely already people singing along,” Barlow admitted happily after a lively set in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “We’ve been playing the two singles that we released... We’re really pushing the new album on the tour. Hopefully trying to get people stoked on it.” On their first single, “Can’t Kick Up The Roots,” Barlow said that already “people react to it just as well as they do to the other songs...Now the second song’s out [and] doing well. People are stoked on it. It’s only going to help with the record.” For their new album, the band worked with Jeremy McKinnon of A Day To Remember, Tom Denney (formerly of A Day to Remember) and producer Andrew Wade. This was a pretty drastic change from their previous process. “For the first time ever, we recorded outside of my brother’s room,” Barlow said. “Everything we had recorded up ‘til now had all been done by hand in my house and it was all written there...My brother still had a helping hand in a lot of the songs which is cool, but the main writing sessions were all done in the studio with Jeremy McKinnon, Andrew Wade and Tom Denney.” As much as Neck Deep have a good formula figured out— evident by their two strong EPs and equally highcaliber debut— they “felt like it was the right time to try and work with a producer, to try and add something to our songwriting.” The change was a learning process for the band that forced them to really examine their own work. Barlow recalled working with McKinnon, Wade and Denney saying, “They definitely taught us to be a lot more critical of each song and to really dissect it, think how we could make each part better. Even if it’s just a transition or a chord change. Just little things like that.”
As different as the whole process of uprooting from native Wales was, Barlow said, “It was fun to step out of our comfort zone and go to a different studio and record in a different country. That’s something that we’ll probably look at doing again.” Who they’ll work with next time is a mystery, but the band will definitely take much of what they learned this time around with them when they go back into studio. “I think the skills, the songwriting skills that we picked up last time ‘round will come through again. We’ll use that knowledge and hopefully write an even better third album. We learn[ed] a lot in that studio for sure.” The band not only took up a new recording method for their new release, but also donned a slightly different outlook. By name alone, Life’s Not Out To Get You sounds undoubtedly more reassuring than 2012’s Rain in July or 2013’s A History of Bad Decisions. “It kind of tied into what I wanted to write the lyrics about,” Barlow said. “The lyrics have a really positive theme running throughout them. They’re generally the opposite of a lot of sad music we hear these days…Sad songs have helped me through some really dark times, but I don’t want to write music that kids want to cut themselves to or that kids listen to when they’re sad. I do want to be a band that everyone listens to when they’re sad, but to pick them up, not send them further and further into that hole.” Despite selling t-shirts that brand them as “generic pop punk” at their merch booth, Neck Deep and this new release are full of a unique energy. Barlow insisted that their sound and even their album “had been done before” but hope that they fit “into a mold that has been left empty for a little while.” He has a valid point. The throne of pop punk has been empty since Blink-182 vacated it. There have been promising acts since then, like All Time Low, but out of this new class of bands, Neck Deep are surely one of the most promising. They’ve already played with both All Time Low and Blink-182. Barlow recalled the show with Blink as one of the best things that has happened to the band. “That’s just the craziest thing that could’ve happened at any point. We could’ve been a band for 10 years and then played with Blink and I still would’ve gone, ‘Holy shit... that’s the best thing we’ll ever do.’” Even when they’re not playing a sold out show at Wembley Arena, Barlow said he’s still in awe of their accomplishments. “There have been a lot of moments where I just go, ‘Wow.
This is real. This is happening. This is what we’re doing.’” Whether they’re supporting Blink-182 or playing an afternoon set on Warped, Barlow guaranteed that a Neck Deep set will always have “lots of energy, lots of head banging, lots of running around, lots of jumping, lots of mosh pits, lots of circle pits, lots of crowd surfing, stage diving, high-fives [and] good times.” “We want everyone moving and having a good time, because we feed off that and then the crowd feeds off us,” he added. “So if both parties are going hard as fuck then it’s going to be a good time. That’s what you can expect.” All the energy kicked up at Neck Deep and similar shows has landed Warped in legal troubles and resulted in the tour banning moshing and similar behavior. Barlow maintained that circle pits and the like are an integral part of rock shows. “It’s basically letting these kids know that they’re doing it at their own risk. And yeah, they are,” he said. “And any parent should know that sending their kid to a rock show, that there is the potential that they might get a foot to the face or someone lands on them when they crowd surf.”
Neck Deep first went on the Warped Tour in 2014 and have since toured in support of and alongside bands like Knuckle Puck, We Are the In Crowd, Seaway and Trophy Eyes. All the time spent on the road has brought the band an increasingly large following, but not without taking its toll on the members of Neck Deep. “Being on the road for a long time is always hard, being away from friends and family and girlfriends and stuff.” However, on a personal level, Barlow says one of the hardest things he’s had to do for the band is learn how to sing without destroying his voice.
“IF YOU’RE WILLING TO EAT DIRT TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE THEN KEEP DOING IT. HONESTLY, WORK HARD.”
The crowd at Neck Deep shows is a swirling torrent of screaming fans, but according to Barlow, the only time the band has had to stop the set was during a gig in Australia when they felt security was being too rough with the audience. Despite the ban, Barlow’s love for Warped is still strong. “Warped Tour is very different from any usual tour...It’s really kind of magical. It’s definitely [got] its own vibe to it.” Barlow stressed its importance in the larger music scene saying, “For the alternative music scene, the Warped Tour is absolutely vital, and it should be supported ruthlessly by all fans of alternative music...I want to say Warped Tour will never die and if it does die it’ll be a great shame...The alternative scene needs Warped Tour.”
“I feel like I’ve come such a long way since this band started and really just trying to find my voice and teach myself how to sing. And I hated myself for some of the shitty shows I played when my voice sucked. I hated it, so I took it upon myself to get better and I did.” The deep, but true-to-pop-punk growl of Barlow’s voice sounds as strong as ever on their new songs, so clearly, as difficult as it’s been to strengthen his voice, it’s paid off. Barlow advocates for hard work, whether it’s in the form of vocal training or starting a band.
“If you’re willing to eat dirt to do what you love, then keep doing it,” he said. “Honestly, work hard. You will find yourself, probably, at the lowest of lows and you’ll probably hate yourself for a while, but you’re supposed to go through that. You’ve got to go through the shit to get to the good. Just persevere. Always try to be developing as a musician and as a songwriter. Be smart. As much as I try to say ‘be professional’— don’t be professional, but get yourself some good equipment and just take it seriously. But don’t take it seriously. Work hard, but don’t work hard and try and improve. Try and always get better...And at the end of the day, do it for the right reasons. If you love music, then do it. It’s a great feeling, so don’t be disheartened by a small crowd or if things aren’t happening as fast as you’d like them to. Don’t be disheartened. Just persevere and keep doing it for the passion and the love of playing music.” PHOTOS: Charlie Martel | INTERVIEW: Zoe Marquedant & Jessica Klinner STORY: Zoe Marquedant
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HOME: Canterbury, England NOW JAMMING: I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time CURRENTLY: Finishing the last round of shows on the Vans Warped Tour
WHETHER IT WAS PERFORMING
at the Brixton Academy or taking a flight from their hometown of Canterbury, England to Los Angeles to record their debut album, I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time (IKYIMFTTT), the guys in Moose Blood seem to have taken over the emo music scene throughout the past year. But for people engulfed in the genre, and even for anyone else that needs a musical outlet during times of an emotional downfall, Moose Blood are making music for the right reasons. Before the lyrics like, “She’s not mine, and she never will be, I’m reminded every day” from their song, “Cherry,” or any other song on the album regarding missing a loved one, all of the dudes had jobs with promotion opportunities. Eddy Brewerton, Mark Osborne and Kyle Todd all worked in retail, and Glenn Harvey worked at a local independent print and graphic design studio. After the release of IKYIMFTTT last year, the four friends took a gamble and resigned from their jobs to begin touring full time. “It was definitely a much bigger leap of faith for some of us than others in terms of our outgoings and responsibilities to families,” drummer Harvey said. Harvey is the only one in the band who doesn’t have a girlfriend or a wife back home to miss while on the road. “It’s easier for me, but the others definitely struggle with that, as anyone would,” he continued. But the struggle has been worth the amount of support the band has accumulated throughout the past several years. For a band that played its first show in October 2012 to performing every date at this year’s Vans Warped Tour, the dedication is paying off. Their first show was in Margate, England, about a 30-minute drive from their hometown of Canterbury, after their close friend Jay Huntley booked the show. Huntley became close with the band after booking shows for a few of the member’s previous bands. Harvey said playing shows in London made the band thrive more than it did playing shows in their hometown. And while establishing a steady fan base, Harvey said he’s noticed the heavy, deep lyrical content having an impact on people. “We write about what we know and that’s all I can say for that really,” Harvey said. “Sometimes people comment on how a certain song resonates with them and it’s usually because they’ve been through a similar experience in their life that we’ve written about and I think that’s a really great personal connection to make.”
As much as the connection in lyrical content between the fans and the band has on Moose Blood, the band was able to fly to Los Angeles to record IKYIMFTTT with Beau Burchell. “Recording the album in L.A. definitely had an impact on all of us,” he continued. “It was an absolutely incredible experience and it didn’t feel real at times. We all definitely wanted to make the most of it and enjoy it all because we didn’t know if we’d ever get the chance to go back again. The flight home was bittersweet. We were all gutted to be leaving but also so proud of the record that we had created with Beau at the studio.”
YOU GET A CHANCE TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE FULL TIME, YOU REALLY CAN’T TURN IT AWAY“ While the band have made another trip to the states this summer to play all of the Vans Warped Tour dates, it’s also the first ever U.S. tour for Moose Blood. After the tour, they will play the Reading and Leeds Festivals, as well as a short run of dates with their friends in Creeper. After these run of dates, the guys are going to keep looking for new material to begin the next steps in writing another album. Quitting their jobs and deciding to pursue Moose Blood full time and see what it would become has turned into a great leap of faith. “In all honesty though, as scary as it was to take a chance on something as potentially fleeting as a band which had been together for barely two years at that point, if you get a chance to do what you love full time, you really can’t turn it away.” PHOTO: Sammy Roenfeldt | INTERVIEW & STORY: Geoff Burns
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HOME: Los Angeles, California NOW JAMMING: It’s Cool CURRENTLY: Finishing the last shows on the Vans Warped Tour
MICHAEL JOHNSON, PAUL LALIBERTE,
Shelby Archer and Jeff Laliberte sit around in a studio making music. In the room, there sits a piggy bank. Inside, a collection of various coins. On the outside, it’s labeled New Boat Fund, but someone had turned the “o” into an “e,” converting it into a fund to keep the beats going. As they were messing around one day, they took that piggy bank and threw it against the side of a corporate building. The collection of coins rained down the side of the building and thus coined the collection of weirdos, New Beat Fund. For this eccentric group of guys, music gave them a habitat for their strange. Jeff (aka Burnie Baker) traded his trombone for a guitar and his brother Paul (aka Fat Snapz Lalib) picked up a bass. The brothers met Archer (aka Buttonwill McKill) while working in the same barbeque restaurant. They met Johnson (aka Silky Johnson) on top of a mountain, drinking red wine in a silk robe. “Those strange little happenings [are] how we all came together, and we just decided to make some funky tunes together,” Paul said. For most bands, being able to play shows in L.A. is a milestone in their careers. For New Beat Fund, it’s just their hometown. From early on, they were inspired by the diverse music scene that helped shaped their unique blend of genres, which they call G-Punk. “We grew up listening to a lot of hip hop and a lot of punk rock,” Paul said. “In LA, there isn’t that dichotomy like you see in a lot of other places like where they only listen to metal or where the scene is one certain thing. In LA, you can find really any kind of music that you’re looking for.” Ever since they smashed that piggy bank into the building, the band knew they could not spend their careers begging for pocket change in exchange for being a certain type of artist. But with a sound that is hard to pigeonhole, they couldn’t partner with just anyone to keep the creativity pure and flowing. So in 2013, New Beat Fund signed with Red Bull Records. “Since signing with Red Bull, they were pretty much on board with allowing us to do what we wanted to do,” Paul said. “Everything that we wanted to be pretty near and dear to the music has happened.” Soon after signing with Red Bull and dropping their first EP, Coinz, New Beat Fund embarked on their first national tour. Once again straying from the norm, their first tour happened to be the ever-grueling punk icon of Warped Tour. Despite growing up seeing bands at Warped, they didn’t exactly fit in with the traditional perception of a band playing the tour. G-punk still hadn’t quite made it onto the list of genres that
occupy the lineup. But, in the end, they learned valuable lessons about being a touring band. “It was kind of like boot camp to go out there and figure out what touring is about all at once,” Paul said. “And through it, we came out with a better understanding of how we were presenting ourselves as a band. In LA, we don’t have the back-to-back shows, so now we just understand how we want our music to translate live.” They were even asked to come back for a second go-round this year. While they spent their first year on Warped introducing themselves, this summer they already have fans waiting for them at their sets. But one of the biggest highlights of their career came when they were asked to open for Blink-182. “That was like a childhood dream,” Paul said. “When I first started playing bass, I remember learning their songs and pondering the idea of being in a band. Being on stage with them was a pretty surreal feeling.” In June, the band released their first full-length album, Sponge Fingerz. While writing and recording they spent time in Topanga Canyon, California. According to Paul, their environment heavily influenced the vibe of the album. “The whole album just reminds me of a full day at the beach,” he said. “You have the morning with the uplifting happy tunes. Then there’s the party of jams that you listen to while hanging out with your friends during the day, drinking a piña colada or a margarita. Then there’s the day coming to a close songs where everyone is chilling and making out under palm trees, and finally there’s the songs for the night drives or a walk down the beach with your girl, wiggling your toes in the sand.” While there’s the classic New Beat Fund good vibes on songs like “Bako Dozo” and “Friendz in High Placez,” Paul also said that they were able to explore new things in their writing. He said that fans were probably surprised to hear a more introspective side to the band on the album. They didn’t even try to keep their evolution a secret, releasing “It’s Cool” as their first single. The song touches on breaking up with someone and feeling lost. Paul says the lyrics (Tripping on each other and it’s tearing up our boots/ our souls are in for better but are used to the abuse) are darker than what their fans have come to expect from them. “It has a melancholy feel to it, and we never really showed that side of us on the EP,” Paul said. For New Beat Fund, changing up and progressing their sound is incredibly important. Paul said that while most HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 36
people from an outside perspective would like to think that being in a band is a very fluid experience, it’s really quite the opposite. They challenge themselves to combat the push and pull of what feels creatively right and how that will translate to the fans live and on a recording. “That’s the nature of New Beat Fund. We always want to keep people on their toes,” Paul said. “Just when they think they can pinpoint us, we throw them a curveball.” In all of the highs of being in an up-and-coming band, there are always the necessary evils that come along with it. Paul
said that he’s a moody and emotional person. Being away from loved ones puts a strain on relationships. But no matter how low they get, New Beat Fund have each other. “We’re peace loving funky brothers at the end of the day,” Paul said. “We try to surround ourselves with people we love, and the truth is a lot of them will come and go, but we always have the core of the four of us.” PHOTOS: Charlie Martel | INTERVIEW & STORY: Alyssa Schmidt
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HOME: Kansas City, Missouri NOW JAMMING: “Capture & Release” 38 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NETCURRENTLY:
Wrapping up a summer on the Vans Warped Tour
THOUSANDS OF MILES APART,
Beautiful Bodies began as a friendly exchange of musical ideas. With guitarist Thomas Becker working as a human rights lawyer in Bolivia, and bassist Luis Arana and lead vocalist Alicia Solombrino working together in their hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, they began sharing ideas that would soon propel them into a full-fledged music career together. “For fun, we decided to send songs back and forth to each other and see what came out of them,” Becker explained. “It started to become pretty apparent that we had a good vibe together, and it was really fun. Everything felt really organic, so we decided that we should maybe try doing this full time.” After realizing their potential together, the members made some tough sacrifices and began moving the project forward. “We all basically gave up our jobs, dumped our things at our parents’ homes and hit the road,” Becker said. On the road, Beautiful Bodies gained much of their notoriety. Often praised as a band that is made to see live with their energetic and interactive sets, Beautiful Bodies fearlessly bring their showmanship to the forefront when they perform. Jumping into the crowd, moon walking and climbing the stage are amongst the stunts to be expected during their live show. “Music has become so painfully safe these days. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to see a band I love, only to have them stand on stage, bored and lifeless,” Becker commented. “We want to capture the raw energy and subversiveness of bands like Black Flag and the Stooges with the feel and swagger of Michael Jackson and Prince. I think our love for these artists as well as our own excitement about getting to play music for a living infuses with energy on stage.” While some bands have found success with ease, Beautiful Bodies have spent the last five years touring and building their reputation and their following. They didn’t make their way into the industry on pure luck. Being from a town that is often overlooked in the music industry, the band knew they would have to stand out and prove themselves worthy. “When labels started talking to us, we must have heard a dozen times that we are from ‘fly over territory.’ Bands in Kansas City simply aren’t on the map of a lot of the music industry. But because it is harder to get noticed from a place like KC, bands there have to work twice as hard,” Becker said. Working hard often reaps great rewards. Waltzing into the industry just wasn’t Beautiful Bodies’ style. The band took their time to build themselves up, but they also paced
themselves when choosing a label and moving into the next leg of their career. “When you work hard for a long period of time, you really appreciate it when exciting things come your way,” Becker expressed. “Part of the reason that we took a little longer than some other bands is that we wanted to find the right path for us. Beautiful Bodies was very fortunate to get deals offered to us early on, but we decided to wait until we found the right fit.” Currently, Beautiful Bodies is signed to Epitaph Records and just released their first full-length album, Battles, with the label in June. The album shows off the band’s fun and energetic blend of rock and pop while still pushing a few new boundaries in the band’s sound. “When we were writing for this album, we wanted to step outside our comfort zone and try new things. Though I think that most of the record sounds like ‘old’ Beautiful Bodies, we definitely found moments to experiment with songs and see if we could bring them to unique places,” Becker explained. 2015 has proven to be a big year for Beautiful Bodies. On top of releasing their new album, the band have hit the road on the Vans Warped Tour, which has played a significant role in their career. In 2013, Beautiful Bodies won the tour’s Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands. The group managed to stand out amongst tens of thousands of other bands around the country. This year they are back as previous champions on their second run of the tour. “Ernie Ball and Warped Tour have continually been very supportive, so we were stoked to come back and be part of the tour,” Becker said. “Warped Tour has built an incredible community, and we are humbled to get to be a small part of it. It is a blast to hang out with tons of rad bands and fans all summer long. I’m looking forward to a lot of the behind the scenes things that take place on Warped, such as wrestling at the Warped BBQs, BMX races in the parking lots and inner band pranks.” This year seems to be a testament to the way Beautiful Bodies have chosen to conduct their band. They’ve chosen hard work over quick rewards and make sure that they do what is right for them and what they want to achieve, and now they’re receiving the attention they have rightfully earned. “Getting to write songs, meet new people, and travel the world make any sacrifices we have had to make seem tiny,” Becker expressed. “We have had it pretty darn good.” PHOTO: Heather Phllips | INTERVIEW & STORY: Annette Hansen
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HOME: Raleigh, North Carolina NOW JAMMING: “Famine Wolf” CURRENTLY: On tour with Animals As Leaders and the Contortionist
IT ISN’T OFTEN YOU SEE A METAL BAND IN THE SAME
realm of acceptance as Nicki Minaj, Sam Smith and Hozier, and surpassing them on the Billboard Top 200 chart is almost unheard of—not to mention owning the Billboard Hard Rock Albums, Independent Albums, Top Rock Albums, Tastemaker Albums and Top Album Sales charts for multiple weeks. A metal band of that magnitude must release a record of a lifetime, which is exactly what progressive metal band Between the Buried and Me has done. “You never know what to expect, especially for as long as we’ve been together,” said Tommy Rogers, the powerhouse lead singer and keyboardist of Between the Buried and Me on the reception of their new record, Coma Ecliptic. Lately, the iconic group, who have been dominating the metal scene since the early 2000s, have been reaching their hand out to the general public to invite them into their—no pun intended—metal heads. The group has always gone off the beaten path when it comes to making music and Rogers said their fans have never been one to turn their ear away from new melodies. “Instantly, from day one it felt a little different for us,” Rogers said. “At first, I was a little worried and I actually went into the studio way early on just to make sure the vibe [we were] creating was working. I recorded one night with [Jamie King], and instantly, it felt like [Between the Buried and Me]. It is different, but I think it [was] the next logical step for us.” Different, vibrant, melodic and well praised, Coma Ecliptic has earned its stripes in not just the American metal scene, but all over the world. Having dropped last month, the record has skyrocketed BTBAM in terms of popularity, but their success as musicians has always been constant. In the span of 15 years, the group has put out seven albums— each harboring a milestone in the band’s career. What Rogers has called “a rock opera,” Coma Ecliptic is a concept album about a man waking up from a coma and trying to move on from his past lives. The man in question has more on his plate than he can chew at times during the record’s progression, but it ends on a high note— literally. The album has been in the making for quite some time, and the effort has paid off tremendously. Rogers said for those “who wrote the band off a long time ago” the record could serve as a jumping off point for not only for Between The Buried and Me, but metal in general. “I wanted to create something that was my own, personal little mini-series,” Rogers explained. “I was watching old Twilight Zone episodes and that theme felt right for the music— very dark. We didn’t completely change anything, you know? That’s what I was worried about. Even when we recorded that song, [King] said, ‘It sounds like Between the Buried and Me.’ It just has more melody.” Even with the success of Coma Ecliptic, the North Carolina natives have endured their fair share of struggle. From label changes to poor business decisions, even though it’s “water under the bridge,” Between The Buried And Me show chutzpah. Rogers explained that each record represents the band in that moment, and with Coma Ecliptic, it shows “that we’ve learned a lot from each other and we’ve learned a lot about what we do.” Call it fate, but the progressive poster boys have taken just the right amount of newfound discovery to create the masterpiece of their career. “To see this much excitement from our fans after all these years with the new record, it’s awesome,” Rogers said. “I think, at this point, our fans really expect us to push ourselves 42 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
“ That moment where you realize you’re sort of making a living... is a moment we’ve all wanted since we were young.”
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and do different things. We’re very lucky in that sense.” The band worked together as a team for Coma Ecliptic, and it shows through their live performances. With all members on top of their game—rhythm and timing included—there isn’t a second left up to chance. The members of the band have been outspoken in the past about criticism toward their diversified sound and branching off from more abrasive metal to progressive metal to progressive rock, but it’s all relative. Thus far, the singles “Famine Wolf,” “The Coma Machine” and “Memory Palace” have all garnered praise for their technicality and melodies in all spectrums of the genres aforementioned. It’s apparent that BTBAM have a highly difficult skill level when it comes to their instruments, even with the melodic direction of their new record. Yet, Rogers explained that there isn’t much in the group’s discography that has been too difficult to handle. “Our passion is how much we love writing music together and that really shows with this record,” Rogers said. “This record was pretty smooth. Everything went according to plan. We have such a great team now. We all work really well together.” Rogers said his favorite part of creating an album is the writing process and experimenting with his vocal range. With easy-to-follow lyrics that tell a story, the record is able to retain its accessibility without watering down the premise. Even though he can’t pick a favorite song off the album, Rogers has made the lyrics relatable as well as original. As for difficulty, he explained that when the members of BTBAM are on their own writing, time proves to be the biggest issue. “The writing process flew by,” Rogers said. “The recording went really well. The writing that we do on our own, the behind the scenes stuff, that’s the most time consuming. For me, vocals are a lot different. I spend a lot of time getting that how I want it, try[ing] new things and trying to bring new life to songs and parts. I have no complaints about anything.” With intricate detail to melody that ranges from almost silence to riffs that would make Rush do a double take, Coma Ecliptic does something most alternative albums don’t— it creates accessibility. Taking influences from Queen and Pink Floyd, Rogers said, “The level of influence we have from the bands we listen to is so vast; it’s hard to pinpoint who influences us [and] where [in the record].” While fans of their early work might have dissenting opinions on whether or not to give the record a spin, Rogers explained that the album will introduce listeners to a different style of music they might not have given a chance. He nodded to Bonnaroo and fests of the same nature for helping move the record along in terms of accessibility
stating the record would, “get [people] reintroduced to the band and get excited about what we’re doing.” Ultimately, fans of the band can expect a healthy dose of each record from their catalog during their current tour with Animals as Leaders and the Contortionist. “It’s been a long time. [We’re] making sure we play a little bit of everything,” Rogers said. “We have a lot of music, so it’ll be a little tough, but it should be a really good tour. It’s been awhile since we’ve toured; hopefully, it won’t take long to get back into the swing of things.” While the outside forces of critics and fans are always looming over the head of any band, especially in metal, Between The Buried And Me have been grateful to have their passion turn into a profession, stating that living the dream started when “we didn’t have to work normal jobs anymore.” Rogers explained that it’s still difficult being away from their families while on tour— he has a girlfriend and son waiting at home. Being on the road is something Rogers said he’ll never get used to, but he’s ready to see what the future holds. “When we first started the band, we never thought this would be our full-time jobs,” Rogers noted. “That moment where you realize you’re sort of making a living is a moment we’ve all wanted since we were young.” Equipped with a larger setlist and a stellar light show, BTBAM set out on tour in early July with more than 50 cities to shake up. From climbing multiple Billboard charts to receiving nearly perfect reviews of Coma Ecliptic, there aren’t any signs of BTBAM slowing down anytime soon. Luckily for fans, there is a lot to look forward to in the band’s future. Their fast track access in the mainstream industry is coming up quick, yet Rogers said the praise and attention hasn’t steered him away from understanding the fans’ reception of the record. In fact, one thing you wouldn’t expect with all that’s happening in BTBAM’s run with Coma Ecliptic is that Rogers is ready to make another record. He said the highlight of the band’s career for him is when each record is finished. Although he doesn’t have much insight on what the next impending, prodigious album will be, he’s working on it. “Personally, I’m ready to write another record,” Rogers explained. “That’s the part that I enjoy, so I’m excited for that. That’s going to be a while from now. We never plan on what a record is going to sound like. We never really know what’s going to happen until it happens.” PHOTOS: Heather Phllips | INTERVIEW & STORY: Bridjet Mendyuk
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TOUR ROUND UP
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PHOTO: Sam Polonsky HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 47
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PHOTO: Demi Cambridge HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 49
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Kevin Burke ALBUM
SOUNDS LIKE Elvis Costello Jack’s Mannequin Mat Kearney James Bay RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Don’t Let It Be True” “Eye to Eye”
Wherever You Are
Don’t Let It Be True
Eye To Eye
BUY IT ON July 31st, 2015
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After years of playing in bands, Kevin Burke found himself pursuing a solo music career while using songwriting to help him cope during his time as a college student. He played every instrument on the five-song EP, Waiting Season, and the 20-year-old’s eclectic music influences and experiences are very evident throughout. The opening track, “Wherever You Are,” reminiscent of the struggle that comes with long distance, is filled out by a bright sounding piano and riddled with melodies from a horn section—two sounds that are revisited throughout the EP. All five songs are fueled by driving rhythms, but Burke’s vocals are definitely the stand out of Waiting Season. His lyrics are relatable and honest while his voice is raw, personable and full of style. The title track encompasses what to expect from the rest of the compilation; however, it is far from the best song on Waiting Season. It is an upbeat and catchy piano ballad, but it takes a back seat to the other four tracks. Waiting Season travels through catchy choruses (“Don’t Let It Be True”) as well as heartfelt and soulful jams (“Kennedy” & “Eye To Eye”), keeping the EP far from static. Each song feels larger than life with soaring guitar riffs and top-notch production as they flow from one to another, staying cohesive but still being able to stand completely on their own. Burke may have dabbled in all different types of music, but he has undoubtedly found his place as a solo artist.
REVIEW: Jennifer Boylen
ARTIST Brigades ALBUM
Indefinite While on tour with Every Time I Die, South Carolina rockers Brigades dropped their debut LP, Indefinite. The album has a sound that will make listeners nostalgic for the pop-punk scene that compromised the early 2010s. The band’s use of melodic vocals, as well as unclean vocals, mixed with the guitars and drums that shadow the contradictions of the vocals create a sound that is reminiscent of an older A Day to Remember or Silverstein. The third track on the album titled “The Difference” is the perfect pop-punk composition. With melancholic lyrics about a relationship shattered by cheating layered with a sound that will have listeners nodding along to the beat, “The Difference” is merely one of the songs on the album that will make listeners eager to be in the pit. While “The Difference” will have listeners inconspicuously headbanging, “My Last Heart Attack” is a soft, acoustic song that breaks up the high energy that makes up the majority of the album. In true pop-punk fashion, the theme of heartbreak is also prominent in “My Last Heart Attack.” Lyrics of remorse flow with the softness of the acoustic guitar and builds to the release of the full band as well as vocals that are bursting with raw emotion. Even though the band is relatively new to the scene, having only released music within the past year, Brigades are one to keep an eye on. Their sound is nostalgic and energizing, leaving fans wanting more. For the guys in Brigades, pop-punk is certainly not dead— it is just beginning.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Undertow” & “My Last Heart Attack” REVIEW Ally Fisher
Potter ALBUM Midnight Three years after the release of her last album, The Lion The Beast The Beat, Grace Potter is back with her solo debut, Midnight. The album is a personal reinvention and modernization. Midnight truly showcases Potter’s unique, gorgeous vocals on a new, elevated level. Midnight is a wonderful and emotional musical odyssey narrated by Potter’s luscious voice. The album is musically intriguing and draws inspiration from not only the bluesy-rock sound associated with Potter, but also blends a spectrum of styles from almost every decade. The standout track on the album is “Your Girl” because of its unique, non-cliché twist on love triangles. The song is infectious and about a woman who feels guilty about pursuing a man even after meeting his girlfriend. The most breathtaking aspect of the album is how well it flows between songs and the number of creative risks Potter takes. She has a hypnotic, organic edge to her voice and music that is borderline spiritual. To fully appreciate the genius that is Midnight, the album must be listened to from beginning to end.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Delirious,” “The Miner,” “Your Girl” & “Alive Tonight” REVIEW Theresa Pham
Politics ALBUM Vikings From their self-titled debut to A Bad Girl in Harlem, New Politics have never lacked catchy, pop rock infused singles with memorable melodies. The band’s third LP, Vikings, is everything that fans of the Copenhagen trio would hope for with shots of energy and witty, animated lyrics. The singles, “West End Kids” and “Everywhere I Go,” set the bar high for the remaining nine songs on the album, considering they have both already received extensive radio play. The provocative “Girl Crush” administers risqué innuendos that make for an amusing summer party track. “15 Dreams” and “Stardust” interrupt the flow of tireless tracks, allowing for a chance to breathe among the constant force of strenuous songs. Every track on Vikings is arresting, but the final track, “Strings Attached,” tries too hard to end the album on a strong note—it is more erratic than anything. Otherwise, New Politics deliver 11 hard-hitting anthems that allow for plenty of head bobbing and singing along.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Loyalties Among Thieves” & “Stardust” REVIEW Haley Black
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