JORDAN JAE – NIGHT RIOTS – THE MOWGLI’S – NEW POLITICS & 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 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)
haley black, jennifer boylen, geoff burns, haley buske, colleen casey, rebecca del castillo, ally fisher, trevor figge, marissa galupi, 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, brad laplante and megan young
_________________________ website twitter highlightmagazine.net @highlightzine facebook instagram facebook.com/highlightmagazine @highlightzine _________________________ thank you
thank you pvris for completely rocking this year, to michael moses, velvet hammer music and management group, warner brother records, the catalyst publicity group, brixton agency, belmont university, press here publicity, capitol records, and mso pr. thank you so much to everyone who read our issues this year, we can’t thank you enough. we also want to give a huge thanks to every single artist we’ve featured online as well as in the magazine. thank you for releasing music we love and can help you share with the world. and a final massive thank you to our incredible staff who has worked hard for another solid year!
_________________________ 06 pvris sam san roman
07 new politics heather phillips
jordan jae rachel kober
the mowgli’s jonathon walters
night riots heather phillips
forest fire gospel choir sam polonsky
05 this or that 08 clothing highlight 11 label highlight 12 venue highlight 14 industry highlight 18 highlighted artists 19 film highlight 20 top 10 albums of the year 24 holiday gift guide 28 forest fire gospel choir 32 jordan jae 34 night riots 38 new politics 42 the mowgliâ€™s 48 pvris 60 tour round up andrew mcmahon in the wilderness carly rae jepsen james bay the color morale the word alive lights the devil wears prada phases 70 reviews
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Adele “Rolling In The Deep
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JORDAN JAE 32
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34 NIGHT RIOTS
38 NEW POLITICS
42 THE MOWGLIS
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28 FOREST FIRE GOSPEL CHOIR
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TEAM MEMBERS James Barnett, Brandi Dowdy & Cathy Fair LOCATION Tallahassee, FL WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND CLOTHE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF? From an early age, I [Founder James Barnett] had my concerns with the western church— one that found itself sitting comfortably in pews while people from all over the world sat uncomfortably in the margins. What’s worse, I knew I was part of the problem. Knowing that the best critique of a bad thing is the practice of something better, at the age of twenty-four, I decided to sell everything I owned to live intentionally homeless. For the next two years, I found myself living in cardboard boxes and eating out of dumpsters with those whom Jesus deems “the greatest” in God’s Kingdom (Luke 9:4). Though I wasn’t looking to start a nonprofit, I created Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself out of necessity when I saw that my homeless friends needed shoes and socks. When a pair of steel-toe boots helped my friend land a construction job and, consequently, housing, I realized the empowering qualities of clothing. Being that there were no nonprofit clothing models that gave 100% away, I decided to meet the need. Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself was born. The name comes from the teaching of Jesus who said to love our neighbors as ourselves. Sometimes loving someone means feeding them, sitting with them, caring for them, or clothing them. WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOUR BRAND REPRESENTS? We hope that it’s a commentary on culture. In an age of conscious consumerism, it’s easy to inadvertently communicate that materialism is the answer to poverty. We don’t believe that so, as a result, we give 100% away showing that to change the world, you needn’t always do something new but maybe just something different.
WHAT ARE YOUR THREE PERSONAL FAVORITE DESIGNS AND WHY? The “Birds & Flowers” shirt because of the messaging. We love inserting our philosophy of living on less into our brand. We never hope people go and buy lots of stuff. We just hope they buy stuff differently. The more simply we live, the better the chance of someone else simply living. This transcends into our manufacturing process as well and our commitment to ethically made items. The Fedoras because of the quality and it being the first of our items we didn’t screen print on. It’s made of recycled wool, which we felt was important because we believe in resurrection of all things—that God considers none of us a waste and that no one is trash or to be tossed aside. We want to live that principle out through all that we do. The Safari Tote because we just came out with it and it’s huge! My wife loves hers and it has a couple hooks inside for you to put your keys on. I, of course, love that because I never have to get lost into the abyss of her tote looking for her keys when I need them. WHY PEOPLE SHOULD CHECK OUT YOUR BRAND? It’s pretty simple. You could end poverty by doing something you already do— shop. When you shop with CYNY, we’ll give 100% of the profits to the cause you care about most. Our greatest hope is to put the power in the hands of the people.
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[ formerly backslashes and bad ideas ] [ now with even better ideas ] [ new music coming soon ] 10 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO...DESCENDANT RECORDS Descendant Records is a label based out of New York City, working with just two bands— Colony House and the Lone Bellow. Jay Harren, a graduate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is the vice president and general manager over at Descendant Records. His resume includes a radio gig at 99X in Atlanta called “Sunday School,” and the artists and repertoire manager at Columbia Records, where he has been credited to signing popular names such as Manchester Orchestra and Cassadee Pope. Harren was friends and neighbors with the Lone Bellow in Brooklyn, New York before signing them to his label when it first began in 2012. The label is working toward building their company and adding many more bands to their roster and have just released a Christmas album from Jon & Valerie Guerra, available now. Descendant Records is a smaller label under Sony Music who are dedicated to building smaller, unknown bands from the ground up. The ultimate goal is to help musicians live up to their full potential in order to advance their careers and be successful in the music industry. The label is currently looking for interns and taking applications for spring of 2016.
COLONY HOUSE Brothers Caleb Chapman (vocals/guitar) and Will Chapman (drums) are the sons of Christian songwriter, Stephen Curtis Chapman, who is well known in the religious community. Together, along with friend Scott Mills (guitar), the trio makes up the Franklin, Tennessee alternative rock band, Colony House. Their name comes from an apartment complex in the city where each of them lived at some point in their lives. With just one album, Colony House has created a solid foundation of inspiring ballads of hope, perseverance and love. There is a religious undertone that avoids being preachy, which is the perfect approach to bridging the gap between Christian and secular music. When I Was Younger, the band’s 2014 release, is upbeat, invokes emotions and has fluid transitions, including two interludes, “When I Was Younger” and “I Had To Grow Up,” that create lineage from the first track to the last. They have become one of the top played artists on satellite radio’s Alt Nation with popular singles “Silhouettes” and “Waiting For My Time To Come.” The band toured this summer opening for Needtobreathe, Switchfoot, Drew Holcombe & the Neighbors and Ben Rector on the Tour De Compadres, playing at renowned venues, one of them being Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. A North American headliner with COIN just wrapped up last month, and while the band was due to play alongside Walk The Moon in Europe, the tour has been rescheduled.
Listen To: “Caught Me By Surprise”
THE LONE BELLOW Zach Williams (lead vocals/guitar), Brian Elmquist (guitar/vocals) and Kanene Pipkin (mandolin/bass/vocals) make up the folk trio, the Lone Bellow. Williams, Elmquist and Pipkin are a tight-knit group, southern born and Brooklyn based, which has greatly influenced their choice in genre. The band have had an impressive start with two successful full length albums, Then Came The Morning, which was released this year that followed their debut self-titled album released in 2013. The trio worked with Aaron Dessner of the National to produce Then Came The Morning, which is an emotional, authentic collection of deep personal stories and scenarios that many can connect with. “Fake Roses” and title track “Then Came The Morning” are just a few popular tracks that will give listeners a taste of the stunning 13-track album. With all three members contributing their vocals, the Lone Bellow is all about cultivating beautiful harmonies, which radiate soul and passion. They have played with big names like the Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile and the Civil Wars over the past several years and are very popular in the Nashville scene. The Lone Bellow have been touring nonstop this year and will be traveling to Europe in early 2016 to play several dates in the United Kingdom and Denmark.
Listen To: “Take My Love” WORDS: Haley Black
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VENUE HIGHLIGHT CAKE SHOP - NEW YORK, NY HISTORY The Cake Shop has been sweetening the New York City music scene since 2005. A former bakery, the space now serves as not only a live music venue, but also a coffee shop and record store. The Lower East Side has plenty of similar shaped spaces, but the Cake Shop has stayed a true indie space. Upon entering, the venue may seem like just another incarnation of the hipster trend, but there is a myriad of concerts, comedy nights, DJs and all sorts of musical happenings going on below the seemingly calm first level.
WHY PLAY HERE? The Cake Shop is a literal basement space. It’s the kind of tiny New York venue that you see in movies and read about in books. To get to the stage, you have to descend a set of stairs towards the back of the cafe. From there you find yourself in a dark room partially lit by string lights that smells familiarly of beer and too many bodies. The stage is small, barely rising above your shin. The band crowds in amongst their amps and boom stands. The show is intimate as the audience is spitting distance from each member of the act. It’s a perfect setting to listen to a band you’ve never heard of. The Cake Shop is a space where you can make your name. During CMJ and showcase nights, larger acts may come through, but the venue usually deals in smaller exposure. In this way, it’s a great place to hear new music and a great place to get heard. Moreover, to be true to its name, the venue also has food. The menu has everything from inventive cocktails, like the Beautiful & Dangerous, to chicken shepherd’s pie to almond thyme cake. They also serve coffee, tea, brunch and have a $4 happy hour...so there’s plenty of reason to come for the show and then just never leave.
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REVIEW: Zoe Marquedant
‘stepping off the porch’
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JOEY STURGIS ? industry highlight
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NAME: Joey Sturgis LOCATION: I am currently located in the heart of Indiana, but I often spend time in Michigan. I also travel a ton and Iâ€™m not very attached to any particular area. I could move tomorrow!
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t @joeyismusic i @joeyismusick
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STORY/WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE INDUSTRY?
I came from a musical family, but never set out to do musical things as a career. I wanted to be a computer programmer and spent many hours trying to create video games. I played drums in bands, but never took it very seriously. The opportunity to mix drums, music, and computers all in one is the day I started to find a passion for audio production. I ended up recording music for other people as a natural progression of my fascination with audio. Fast forward to present day and that passion has grown to me becoming a creator of audio software and audio products that help others follow that same passion.
BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T GO TO SCHOOL FOR MUSIC, WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR MUSIC EDUCATION? WAS IT THROUGH WATCHING OTHERS? INTERNSHIPS? EXPERIMENTATION?
I got my education from trial and error and using the Internet as a guide. My fascination with audio and the results you could get by tinkering motivated me to learn more and more as I progressed. I also found interest in not only meeting all the new music-type people, but also learning how to work with humans is a challenging and interesting endeavor in and of itself.
YOU’RE A JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES IN THE STUDIO: PRODUCING, MIXING, MASTERING. WHAT’S THE BEST/MOST INTERESTING PART OF THE RECORDING PROCESS FOR YOU? I think the most interesting part for me is the creative aspect because it provides a platform to take ideas and make them more interesting. I also
find a lot of satisfaction in helping to bring someone’s idea to life. There’s like a creative energy inside of me that I have to satisfy somehow or I get really depressed.
DO YOU FIND IT MORE CHALLENGING TO WORK WITH A BAND/ARTIST YOU’VE WORKED WITH BEFORE OR ONE YOU’VE NEVER WORKED WITH?
I think it is both challenging to work with new and familiar artists. The reason why is that new artists have this whole “We’re still getting to know each other” phase that creates interesting hurdles in the creative process, and familiar artists are sometimes too comfortable. Also, it can become increasingly difficult to “reinvent” a band over and over again.
YOU’VE PRODUCED RECORDS FOR THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, ASKING ALEXANDRIA, OF MICE AND MEN AND THAT JUST SCRATCHES THE SURFACE. THESE BANDS ALL HAVE A HEAVY SOUND. WOULD YOU EVER RECORD WITH BANDS THAT HAVE A SOFTER SOUND? WHY OR WHY NOT?
I’ll work with anyone who needs me and I feel I’m a right fit for. You should check out this EP I did by Let’s Get It called Digital Spaces. It’s an incredible
EP, albeit short lived. It’s not very heavy, and it’s extremely dynamic. We’ve got everything on there from tubas and xylophones to trash can lids and broken
WHAT ARE THREE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CAREER MOMENTS?
Discovering how to quantize vocals, getting a gold record for a song I had a lot of fun making, and spending endless late nights laughing with my clients.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH?
I am driven to continue accomplishing my mission in life: helping people create great music. Oh, and I’d like to win a Grammy =) INTERVIEW: Jessica Klinner PHOTOS: Provided
ARTISTS IYVES Location: Brooklyn, NY Current Single: “Let The Water Run” Soul-pop artist IYVES isn’t here to be another cog in the wheel, rather, she’s aiming to run the machine. Mixing an eclectic sound of electronica and r&b vocals, IYVES delivers a mysterious and intense sound unlike any other.
SUMMER WARS Location: Raleigh, NC Current EP: Better Days Members: Tripp Rowe – Vocals/Guitar, Noah Whiteman – Guitar/Vocals, Brett Caldwell– Bass/ Vocals & Phillip Wilson –Drums Not to be confused with that popular thing called Star Wars, Raleigh’s Summer Wars is the next rising band you need to know. The pop-punk outfit recently released their brand new EP Better Days, and is beginning to climb aboard the national touring circuit.
SO MUCH LIGHT Location: Sacramento, CA Current Single: “Idiot Soul” Blending R&B over pop driven beats, Sacramento’s So Much Light will keep your head bouncing to the beat. A tribute to the modern rhythm and vocal styles of artists such as Frank Ocean & Toro Y Moi, So Much Light, aka Damien Merrett, takes minimalistic tracks and creates powerful tunes.
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WORDS: Nick Yacovazzi
FILMS THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS Director: Henry Selick (1993)
Live like Jack and Sally (Blink-182 reference anyone?) in this claymation classic. The Nightmare Before Christmas stars Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, who accidentally stumbles upon the fantastical and wondrous Christmastown just as it’s gearing up for the holiday. Join Jack as he prances through the snowing wondering, “What’s this? What’s THIS?” and attempts to sort out what exactly is Christmas and who is Santa Claus.
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE Director: Chris Columbus (2001)
Transport to the wizarding world as they prepare to celebrate the holidays at Hogwarts. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter has just begun his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and is as equally floored by the floating candles and falling snow in the Great Hall as the audience. Relive the wonder of the first installment of the magical series and marvel in quiet wonder at the younger Matthew Lewis (aka Neville Longbottom).
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS Director: Bill Melendez (1965)
Fifty years after it first aired on CBS, A Charlie Brown Christmas still warms the heart. The animated short includes all your favorite Peanuts characters, who, with Charlie Brown at their helm, try to find the true meaning of Christmas. The story centers on Brown who finds himself on the cusp of Christmas with no abundance of cards and only a scraggy tree to decorate. He struggles to appreciate the holiday and admits, “I almost wish there weren’t a holiday season. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?” We’ve all been there. Watch as the gang rally in time to realize what the holidays are all about.
HOME ALONE Director: Chris Columbus (1990)
At one point or another over the holiday season, most people wish for a little space from their friends and family. Eightyear-old Kevin McCallister gets just that when he is accidentally left behind when his entire family leaves for vacation. At first, the youngster rejoices in his newfound freedom, watching scary movies and eating whatever he pleases. He rocks happily around his own Christmas tree until he’s forced into defensive mode when a couple of prowling cat burglars try to break into his seemingly empty house.
REVIEWS: Zoe Marquedant
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ARTIST Justin Bieber ALBUM Purpose I will admit that after the release of Justin’s singles and this album that I may have caught some Bieber Fever. The maturity of his voice in these songs and the powerful emotion he brings out in songs like “Love Yourself” and “Purpose” really has a different sound than his past releases. I will admit that this album has me dancing around my room singing along to all the words. Colleen Casey (Writer) Bieber made a believer out of me after hearing the title track of this album. I am in admiration of the extreme personal maturity and artistic growth he has shown this year. Purpose feels more intentional and less superficial. Haley Black (Writer)
ARTIST FIDLAR ALBUM Too FIDLAR’s Too is a thrashy, skate punk record with a little bit of variation for everyone. With songs about personal struggles and west coast dreams, the record holds it’s own live as well. Bridjet Mendyuk (Writer) I’ve never listened to an album quite like FIDLAR’s Too. It has beachy guitar chords that lead into punk choruses and everything in between. If you’re looking for your new favorite album, look no further. Jessica Klinner (Managing Editor)
ARTIST Bring Me The Horizon ALBUM That’s the Spirit The fact that an album from Bring Me the Horizon made my list is still a shock to me, but once I heard “True Friends,” I was sold. Alex Shimalla (Writer) Bring Me The Horizon’s crossover to alternative rock on their major label debut is as explosive as it gets. The album really shows off the band’s more polished sound, all while keeping the same familiar sound that they had just a few years ago. Brad LaPlante (News Poster)
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ARTIST The Wonder Years ALBUM No Closer to Heaven Soupy has done it again. Need more be said? Zoe Marquedant (Writer) Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s masterful control of narrative lyrics paired with his seasoned, honest vocals leave listeners riveted. The album’s music draws on a melting pot of styles and echoes greater talent than standard shred-and-smash pop punk. The Greatest Generation revolutionized pop punk, but No Closer to Heaven exemplifies maturity and expertise. Marissa Galupi (Writer)
ARTIST As It Is ALBUM Never Happy Ever After As It Is’ debut album on Fearless Records was probably the best of early 2015. The album kicked off with a huge new single, “Dial Tones,” but more importantly, it really cemented the band’s place in the scene. Brad LaPlante (News Poster) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from At It Is’ debut album, but in the end, I was not disappointed. Never Happy Ever After gave me everything I’ve been seeking in modern pop punk. It’s gritty without forgetting to be catchy. Annette Hansen (Writer)
ARTIST twenty one pilots ALBUM Blurryface twenty one pilots can do no wrong. Their style is like no other and no one can honestly say that the majority of Blurryface hasn’t been stuck in their head at some point. Jen Boylen (Writer) It is a rare occurrence for me to find an album where I love every single song. Every track has the strength to stand on its own. Blurryface is a compilation of the inner demons we all live with, and because of that, I feel less alone. Haley Black (Writer)
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ARTIST The Maine ALBUM American Candy I was a fan of the Maine back in the Can’t Stop Won’t Stop days. I took a hiatus from listening to them for a while, and when I heard the release of American Candy, I was back to spinning the Maine on a regular basis. American Candy is a unique record that is fun and enjoyable from start to finish. Colleen Casey (Writer) The Maine will always have a special place in my heart. They are another band that I doubt I will ever outgrow. Since first falling in love with them in middle school, I have grown up with them. The Maine are consistent and never disappoint. Haley Black (Writer) American Candy is by far the Maine’s best album. You can tell they pushed the limits with the lyrics and hooks. I didn’t take this CD out of my car for a good three months after the release. Jenn Stookey (EditorIn-Chief)
ARTIST State Champs ALBUM Around The World And Back I’ll admit that I first heard of State Champs at the beginning of this year due to their spot on All Time Low’s Future Hearts Tour. But, despite our recent band-to-fan relationship, their albums became my summer soundtracks. Their new music is an incredible collection of songs from a band that will be around the world and back for a while. Alex Shimalla (Writer) I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of a lot of newer pop punk music, but State Champs have been one of the few bands that I’ve been rooting for. Around The World And Back did not let me down. Their sophomore full length is angsty, fun and showcases a band with a lot of potential. Annette Hansen (Writer)
ARTIST Halsey ALBUM Badlands My goodness, I can’t think of another album that perfectly encapsulates being in one’s early 20s. Courtney Coles (Photographer) Halsey takes you on a journey through her world. I can’t express how refreshing it is to have a female show up in the industry that isn’t afraid to be 100% real. She’s a good reminder for young adult females that it’s okay to feel sexy and confident. Ashley Osborn (CoFounder/Photo Editor)
#1 ARTIST Neck Deep ALBUM Life’s Not Out To Get You You can really hear how hard the band worked on this album, perfecting every feature under the guidance of A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon. Dad would be proud. Zoe Marquedant (Writer) This album brought me back to my pop punk roots, something I had been having a hard time trying to fall back in love with. Songs like “Gold Steps” and “The Beach Is For Lovers (Not For Losers)” reminded me of why I love the genre. I’m so thankful for this album. Jenn Stookey (Editor-In-Chief) Life’s Not Out To Get You is the pop punk album Neck Deep foreshadowed and aspired to make all along. With thunderous beats, stable yet adventurous riffs and sharp-cutting vocals, Life’s Not Out To Get You solidifies Neck Deep as a prime player in the scene. Instead of festering on negativity, the album promotes a few positive themes while remaining a go-to comfort for fans teething with angst or uncertainties. The album not only elevates the band’s scene presence but also roots their future. Marissa Galupi (Writer)
Made In The A.M.
All Time Low Future Hearts
Carly Rae Jepsen
5 Seconds of Summer
Sounds Good Feels Good
Father John Misty
I Love You, Honeybear
Knuckle Puck Copacetic
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 23
2 Print Bundle (5 options) $22 store.twloha.com
holiday gift guide
Long Live Pop Punk Destroyed Denim Shirt
$68.00 shopjawbreaking.com 24 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
Prices Vary per Artist Ticketmaster/LiveNation
Timex Weekender Chrono Watch
Mini Instax Glitter Picture Frame
Sticky Fingers (Super Deluxe Box Set)
Doug The Pug Calendar
Deep Tea Diver Infuser $9.99 modcloth.com
Halsey - BADLANDS vinyl
Armada Carmel Windstopper Mitten
Emoji Sticker Sheet Set
Never Nude Coffee Mug (Arrested Development)
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck Box Set
$6 Urban Outfitters
$21 Barnes and Noble
Merry Crustmus Crewneck $26 shop.nylon.com
$75 Urban Outfitters
$12 Urban Outfitters
Winter Is Coming Crewneck (Game of Thrones)
Sony MRDX10/RED Simon Cowell X Headphones
Bob's Burgers Cook Book
Star Wars Death Star Waffle Maker
Good Times Tube Socks
Golden Moments Phone Case
Evil Dead “Hail to the King, Baby” Sweater
Purple Floral Print Weekender Bag in Cream
Mousin’ Around Cat Sweater by Meow Wear
Sale: $95.80 amazon.com
$6.50 Lazy Oaf
Adult Coloring Book & Colored Pencils $16.99 amazon.com
Bambu Pet Hammock
Star Wars Death Star Planetarium
The Mindfulness Coloring Book, Vol. 2
Nixon Cape Bifold Wallet
Inflatable Unicorn Horn
Boy Bands Ruined My Life Tee
Do Not Talk To Me Sweatshirt
Cat Eye Zip Pouch
$10 Barnes & Noble
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HOME: Nashville, Tennessee NOW JAMMING: “Lightning” CURRENTLY: Named Belmont University’s Rock Showcase 2015 winner
times”—a worthy tagline emerging roots rock band Forest Fire Gospel Choir uses when describing their sound and founding principles. Behind the quirky, alliterative name are five driven musicians merging eclectic styles, influences and tastes into a rock-country fusion with a soulful backbone. Though forming during a recording project in Arkansas in 2014, Forest Fire Gospel Choir considers Nashville home. That’s where members Will McGee, Nick Fields, Sam Hunt, Will Lynde, and Kip Allen attend Belmont University. The band stands as Belmont’s 2015 Rock Showcase winner and credits music opportunities and friendships fostered at the university for growing success. Average college students struggle with juggling academics, work and club activities. Forest Fire Gospel Choir members add forging a music career to the mix. Squeezing in practice sessions and carving out songwriting time aren’t always plausible, pre-scheduled events (especially when crafting intricate, yet relaxed melodies and honest lyrics). Neither is writing lengthy papers or cramming for exams. “It’s all about staying alert and in the present…to get work done,” frontman and bassist McGee explains. “Whether it’s for school or the band.” McGee claims coordinating schedules and staying organized causes occasional challenges, yet strong inner bonds keep
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groups ease tensions and freshens creative mindsets. It’s the band’s biggest asset. And as far as deferring higher education when pursuing a music career, McGee and Forest Fire Gospel Choir urge fellow young musicians to reconsider. “[When attending college,] you can meet people your age who are into the same kind of music. It’s the best way to…collaborate.” McGee recalls one random instance where he passed prospective producer Mitch Furr on the way to their shared dormitory bathroom. The “awkward encounter” paid off because Furr is now an integral part of Forest Fire Gospel Choir’s recordings.
A sweeping song over six minutes long, “Lightning” is “a slow burning” relationship reflection. The acoustic guitar intro sets a mellow tempo driven with opening lyrics of aching remembrance tracked in well-mixed reverb that emulates distance. A steady beat enters at the pre-chorus but doesn’t overpower. Instead, it lets guitar work drop back for accents of keyboard gospel chords until the chorus bursts. Guitars plug in and amp up emotion for a controlled jolt—a lightning flash. With energy slightly elevated, vocals stream raw realizations in the fallout. Lyrics transition to a piercing theme and epiphany: “Love like lightning… don’t strike twice, darling, without burning out the ground.” Exasperation builds and hangs on until the intro reprises.
Furr may lend mixing and mastering talent, but Forest Fire Gospel Choir’s down-home tone and natural-cut vocals carry a rich sound on their own. Listeners can pick any
“We’ve been encouraged to shorten [‘Lightning’] before,” McGee reveals. “People who worry about things like ‘being commercial’ have said that a listener may lose interest…”
We want to create an experience.”
A concerned industry novice might cave; reconfigure tracks for less repetition; introduce a sharper, earlier fade out. Instead, McGee rebuttals with Pink Floyd’s songwriting techniques as inspiration: “[Pink Floyd] were always so good about letting their music breathe, giving each musical and lyrical element time to sink in,” he says. “For a listener, it takes careful attention and patience to listen to that, but it’s always worth it.”
tune from the band’s SoundCloud library and discover how well familiar elements layer and blend. Fields and Hunt’s smooth guitars pair well with Allen’s steady, light-patterned percussion. Lynde’s church organ-like keyboards introduce sweeping soul to underling gritty rock vibes present in McGee’s voice. According to McGee, these elements spawn authenticity on which Forest Fire Gospel Choir thrives.
“We don’t want to write music that satisfies shortening attention spans,” McGee defends. “We want to create an experience.”
“We try our best to perform in a way that makes the audience feel like they know us…like we know them,” he says. “All we want people to see is that we’re a band that cares about each [other] and our audience…”
Listeners can look forward to experiencing more journeys with Forest Fire Gospel Choir as an EP is currently in the works.
Dedication, talent and authentic connection fused when Forest Fire Gospel Choir commandeered Belmont’s Curb Events Center stage on November 7 for the 2015 Rock Showcase. Previous experience backing other acts (Baylor Wilson’s performance in the 2014 Country Showcase, for instance) and playing in other showcases quelled anxiety but not the palpable energy the band delivers with every note and chord. “We knew what we had to do,” McGee recalls. “With our minds at ease, we couldn’t help but have fun.” Covers are common in showcase set lists. But Forest Fire Gospel Choir’s closing number—original jam “Lightning”— validates the first-place victory without question. 30 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
Forest Fire Gospel Choir’s “Lightning” embodies that with an accurate musical representation of comparing heart ache to a lighting strike.
Winning Belmont’s Rock Showcase is an impressive accolade for Forest Fire Gospel Choir; however, the band recognizes sharing stages with supportive bands Staying For The Weekend, Nodaway, Kid Freud, Devin Dawson and the Saturns as the most pivotal moments in their young career. “It’s a real honor to have their nod of approval,” McGee explains. Success can be defined with record sales and sold-out shows. For Forest Fire Gospel Choir, however, success is mixing “classic vibes and good times” with encouragement. PHOTOS: Sam Polonsky INTERVIEW & STORY: Marissa Galupi
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HOME: New York, New York NOW JAMMING: “I’d Choose You” CURRENTLY: Working on a debut EP
BEING A SIXTEEN YEAR OLD
is hard enough, but trying to balance high school and a music career is probably near impossible—unless you’re Jordan JAE. The teenage singer-songwriter has amassed hundreds of thousands of views on her YouTube channel and is now gearing up for the release of her very first EP. When she first started releasing music, she weighed heavily on the bubblegum side of pop; partly because she would do anything to be able to make music, but also she was really just starting to get to know herself as a musician. Over the last year, she has really honed her sound into a more authentic indiepop style. “As I started really making my own music, I felt more comfortable to start making music that I felt was more me,” she shared. “It wasn’t that I didn’t like my other stuff, it actually really helped make my writing better and I got to practice and really learned how to write pop music, which was interesting and fun, but then I think as I started getting older and more comfortable with what I was doing. I started taking risks and [being] more true to myself.” Beyond maturing in her style, she is also working on becoming a more eclectic musician. Jordan is a natural at the piano, but she’s slowiy becoming a guitar player as well. “I used to take [guitar] lessons, and I don’t understand why, but it is hard for me to learn from the guitar teachers that I worked with in the past,” she said. “It’s better to do and learn on your own time. I feel like then you get the most out of what you’re trying to remember.” Many times, she tries to write on guitar even though she’s still learning. Since compiling many original songs, her very first EP is going to be released in the next few weeks after a very long process. She worked with Rob and Chris of Noiseclub on this body of work. She’s been working with the duo since she was thirteen and couldn’t imagine doing her debut with anyone else. Over the last three years, she’s been working consistently on this EP, trying to make it perfect. “The reason I hadn’t put out an EP beforehand was because I wanted to really build my sound and have a sound that I was not only proud of but also I thought was consistent,” she said. “So this is my first consistent piece of work that’s all the same genre and I’m really, really excited about it.”
On top of working on her own music, she has been quite a regular in the world of cover videos. From Justin Bieber to Sia, James Bay and many others, Jordan has really found her niche in covers based out of SlumboLabs studios. She chooses each song carefully, but usually for one of two reasons— because she wishes she had written it or because it’s fun and popular. Above all though, she tries to make each song her own. As a songwriter, she knows that not everyone who listens to her music will think of it exactly the same way as she does. As a creative, she accepts that and tries to give her own spin to every cover. “I take [each song] and I make it into something that is more connected to me,” she said. “I like to change up the sounds to make it more my own because that’s the point of art, you’re supposed to connect. You’re supposed to make it your own that’s why I make music, I want people to connect to it and feel their own way about it.” Covering a song is one thing, but making a video for each song is even more effort. She has someone help her film and many videos also feature accompaniments or her friends. But the visual aspect of a song just adds to her interpretation of the music. “The whole day is dedicated to music and art and visualizing how you can put the song that you wrote into the world to make it come alive, to tell the story that you were trying to tell in a creative way that you think other people will understand or think is interesting,” she said. The young New York native has lots of big dreams. Even though some people in her life weren’t supportive of her music career, she is going to pursue her passion. Between wanting to move to the west coast or play Madison Square Garden, as long as she is playing music, Jordan will be happy. She knows that music can change the world and she is ecstatic to be a part of that in some way. “I feel as though I’m changing it at least a little every day,” she said. “I don’t know how to explain how much I love music. It’s like trying to explain how much you love someone. To me, music is as if it’s tangible. It means so much to me. Honestly I don’t think I would like myself without music, it is a huge part of who I am.” PHOTO: Rachel Kober INTERVIEWER: Jenn Stookey & STORY: Jennifer Boylen HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 33
HOME: San Luis Obispo, California NOW JAMMING: “Oh My Heart” CURRENTLY: Touring the US
BREAKING INTO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
is always a difficult task, but breaking out of a small local scene is a whole new struggle in itself. The boys of Night Riots knew that they wanted to make music, and they knew that if they we’re going to make it a career that they would have to take matters into their own hands. The five piece band consisting of singer Travis Hawley, guitarists Nick Fotinakes and Matt DePauw, bassist Mikel Van Kranenburg and drummer Rico Rodriguez, started out in a smaller California town. Early on, the band realized that to move forward with their music, they would need to take some chances on their own. “That was kind of always our mentality: do it yourself,” Hawley explained. “In the very beginning, we would try to get shows with bigger bands, but it was hard to get them to pay attention to us, so we just started putting on our own shows.” In the summer of 2013, Night Riots released their debut EP, Young Lore. For their first release, the band channeled their self-starting nature into the project. With six polished and captivating pop rock tracks, the band self-released the EP and were met with surprising success. “I guess the same kind of mentality came when we went to release an album. We had those thoughts, ‘We can do this ourselves to our fanbase and have it organically grow,’” Hawley described. For Night Riots, finding their own footing in the industry was something that they wanted for themselves before proceeding. “We always wanted to move with purpose. Instead of just jumping into something without looking, we just wanted to have more control over where our career was going,” Hawley said. Shortly after their success with Young Lore, the band signed with indie label Sumerian Records. Being a band that was capable of making their own success, Night Riots wanted to make sure that they would choose a label that cared as much about their music as they themselves did. “Sumerian reached out to us and had just been kind of interested. We were talking with a lot of labels and our songs were being pasted around within the industry,” Hawley explained. “The selling point for us was that the owner of the label kept on coming out to our shows… and standing front row and singing all the words to the songs. He was bringing out the whole crew and none of the other labels or A&R people were doing that.”
“We are so invested in our band, and anybody we take on as a partner, we want them to feel the same way.” 2015 has been a big year for Night Riots. At the start of the year, the band released their second EP, Howl, which found significant success on the airwaves. They also toured throughout most of the year, taking slots on the Vans Warped Tour and touring most recently alongside Young Rising Sons. After the last few years of hard work, the band is starting to see the pay out. “When you’re out here, you don’t really see what’s happening because you’re just kind of heads-down working… It’s really crazy because every once in a while we’ll stop and look back because in the beginning of this year, before we released the EP, we did a tour and it was good by our standards at that point, and now three tours later we’re playing the same markets and they’re way bigger,” Hawley said. Aside from being greeted by more and more new faces, the band has also been met with a number of familiar ones. “It’s really neat for us to go out there and see people that came to our first shows when nobody was there. You can tell that they feel like they’re a part of it. I know that those people are going to stay with us regardless,” Hawley expressed. And it’s the more familiar faces that the band is proud to have impressed. Having found a place for themselves outside of their local scene and in the greater music industry, the band marks their success by more than just sales and fans. “There’s this cool feeling about our home base back in California,” Hawley said. “It’s really hard to break out of being a small town band. I think a lot of people back home see us as an international band now, not just as a local band. For some reason, that’s a big deal to me.” Beyond just being a band that sells records and is able to live off their music career, Hawley said Night Riots wants to simply make good music. They want to make music that they take pride in and that sets them apart. “A big part of it is just wanting to write the best music we possibly can, to really define a sound. I feel like in our genre of music I’m not extremely enthusiastic about a lot of the bands that are out there or the way that the sound is. For me, that’s a chance to maybe redefine that and be a band that I want to listen to.” PHOTOS: Heather Phillips | INTERVIEW & STORY: Annette Hansen
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HOME: Copenhagen, Denmark/Brooklyn, New York NOW JAMMING: Vikings CURRENTLY: Just finished touring with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
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WHEN WE LAST SPOKE TO THE
guys of New Politics during the summer of 2013, they were riding the high of their newly released and widely successful sophomore album, A Bad Girl in Harlem. The trio were engaged in a jam-packed summer schedule—wrapping up the Monumentour with Fall Out Boy and Paramore, playing summer music festivals, and preparing to embark on a world tour with Thirty Seconds to Mars. The non-stop touring and promotion of their album showcased the band’s attempt at trying to make their mark in the back-breaking American music scene with their unique pop-punk, dancerock sound. Now, catching up with New Politics two years later, the Danish/American trio have returned in full force with a brand new album as well as a thriving tour de force. “It’s been crazy since the last time we spoke,” drummer Louis Vecchio says. “We haven’t stopped. Between touring, we’ve been on the road for 300 days now, and writing the new album, it’s been non-stop. But we’re so thankful and lucky to do what we’re doing now. The biggest thing is having a new album out and finally getting able to put a face to it.”
or about being dropped. We were just being artists, just having fun.” For Vikings, the creation of the album stemmed from the trio experiencing their ultimate rise to success together, as well as embracing the world around them; most notably New York, and in particular, their home of Brooklyn. Known as the city that never sleeps, the concrete jungle is laden with inspiration as well as ambition, and the guys in New Politics have enfolded themselves within it and embraced what it has to offer. “Everything [is inspiring about New York],” Vecchio muses. “The people, how not easy it is to get by; there’s nothing that is not inspiring in, or about, New York. I’m originally from Long Island, so I’m a firm believer in that, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. The highs are high and the lows are low. It’s very humbling and it keeps you grounded. Us, as people, we’ve never had our ego’s involved ever. A lot of that comes from where we’re from and where we’re located. That’s the best thing to take from living in New York, you learn from it.”
After the huge success of A Bad Girl in Harlem, New Politics were able to pick up a steady momentum filled with triumphs such as several alternative chart toppers with hits, “Harlem,” “West End Kids,” and “Tonight You’re Perfect,” as well as a continuously growing fanbase.
Living in Brooklyn, as well as having a band connection that is ego free, has paved the way for the band to establish their myriad sound of pop-punk and dance-rock, which has taken the music scene by storm as well as brought along with it highly energetic live performances and an alwaysengaging audience.
With a few laughs and a tone laced with sincerity, Vecchio remarks, “You never really expect anything to happen. We didn’t expect to be to be as busy as we are but we’re very happy to be busy. It’s been an amazing ride; it’s like a dream come true. We went from a van, to a bigger van, to a van that sleeps people, to now three bus tours traveling the country.”
“Being a different artist is very, very circumstantial. We don’t really box ourselves into a world or try to,” says Vecchio of their sound, specifically on the new album. “The guys could have an idea and they’ll all be different. One could be hip-hop, rock or rap. We had the time with Vikings to really hone in on different things [musically].”
However, the success of A Bad Girl in Harlem did not just give New Politics a tour bus and fans, it also brought peace of mind. During the months the band was writing and producing their sophomore album, they were faced with extreme financial struggles, leaving them in an exhausted and distressed state of mind— a theme that frequents the record’s lyrics. But the guys were spared as karma had good intentions for their trials and tribulations, and they were rewarded with a vastly acclaimed alternative album, which relief assisted in the creation of the third and most recent album, Vikings. “When we were writing Harlem, it was real,” Vecchio remarks. “We were eating ramen and white bread, scared of being dropped. Harlem’s lyrics and content came from David and Søren moving from Denmark to New York, not having any friends or any money. The biggest difference between writing Vikings and Harlem was that our mental area was in a different zone. We had the success from Harlem. We weren’t worried about financial problems
These characteristics are what have paved the way for the widely successful and ultimately deserving career they have today. While New Politics have gone through an abundance of obstacles and complications such as moving from Denmark to Brooklyn to jumpstart a musical career, profound homesickness, excessive financial struggles, and the taxing and weighted effect of relentless touring, Vecchio says that the outcomes of the copious calamities are the greatest reward, and ones he’ll never forget. “I’ll never forget doing Jimmy Fallon and seeing Questlove watching me play drums or sharing stages with unbelievable artists such as Elton John and Van Halen,” he says. “Just sharing stages with all these amazing artists, some of [who] are now our close friends. Those experiences, you’ll never forget.” PHOTOS: Heather Phillips | INTERVIEW & STORY: Ally Fisher HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 41
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HOME: Los Angeles, California NOW JAMMING: “Room For All Of Us” CURRENTLY: On a US tour with LIGHTS 44 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
WHEN THE MOWGLI’S MUSIC FLOWS THROUGH THE AIRWAVES, it’s hard to ignore the strangely powerful force that comes with it. Perhaps it’s their impressive seven man crew with a role on every track, or it could be the fullbodied aura of six or more instruments on each song. One thing’s for sure, that The Mowgli’s bring a sense of “something greater” to their art. This idea is not braggadocios or meant to spur competition, but rather to create inclusion; intent on making music with acceptance through the means of secular jubilation. The Mowgli’s members joined forces in 2009, but not quite as perfect strangers. Childhood history served as the catalyst for their works. Immediately after their first slew of shows, the band recognized their music was more than the notes they play, and that their mission was to acknowledge and emphasize love and kindness on every stage they performed. The spark of something greater had begun. “Looking back on when we started playing together to now, I have to admit we are a 100% undeniably a far better band than we were in 2009. The first couple years of shows for The Mowgli’s we’re pretty
sloppy…. and a little drunk (laughs). At first it was solely for fun because we still had day jobs and bills to pay. Fastforward six years later, we’re in a much more professional place now.” Said vocalist Katie Jayne Earl in a phone interview. Spending their daytime in Clark Kent roles while moonlighting as rising rock stars, The Mowgli’s found their shot at success in their 2012 EP debut, Love’s Not Dead featuring breakout track “San Francisco.” Now, even with two full lengths under their belt, Earl claims that the group’s creative processes are still in their early phases. “Only having put two records out so far, our process is still evolving and we’re still changing, so there’s no cemented way that we do things. Our first album, Waiting For The Dawn was a big collaborative album with a lot of input compared to our major label release, Kids In Love that was under a major label time crunch. Our label approached us with a three-month deadline, so we pulled from our pool of songs that we had written in the past five years. We all put our on flair on the tracks. It would usually come down to Colin, our vocalist, bringing up a song and the rest of us discussing what we liked and what we didn’t like, what we thought would stand out, said Earl.”
that these boundaries don’t need to exist. There’s plenty of water, food and live to share. There’s no need for scarcity and greed, said Earl. “We resonate with the idea that at the core of every person or religion, there’s love,” Earl added. As the group strives to focus on the beauty and uplifting sentiments, they aren’t impervious to their own growing pains and shortcomings. Detailing the journey the band has gone through to this point, Earl concedes that difficult times are inevitable, but how you choose to respond to them speaks volumes of the mission of The Mowgli’s. “Learning to work and live with others in a creative space has been one of the more challenging things we’ve done. There’s a very vulnerable place you go to when you share your poetry or ideas with someone. There’s a certain kind of trust you need to have because you’re bearing part of your
We resonate with the idea that at the core of every person or religion, there’s love.”
“Sometimes someone brings us a song; and we love it and go from there. Other times one of us will have a verse or a chorus and we’ll mold a song from that part,” Earl added. The Mowgli’s write and dissect formula proved profitable. The April 2015 release, debuted at #47 on iTunes Charts with a ceiling peak of #7 and earned a favorable ranking on Billboard’s Top 200 with the albums top songs topping out at over 20 million streams. While these numbers and data help pay the bills and grow social likes, it’s the furthest thing from The Mowglis’ priorities, rather the group is focused on creating a culture focused on positivity and love. One that they’ve dubbed ever so meta, “being a Mowgli” and furthering the idea of “something greater.” “While not every song we write is geared towards the same message, our overarching purpose and mission is this idea that our message is universal and it transcends gender, race and ideology. We strive to create this element in our music when we record and produce that encourages people to sing with us, because we want the world to sing in chorus. The message is simply that we’re all going through life and
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soul, thoughts and feelings, so you don’t want someone turning around and telling you they’re crap. I definitely learned to step out of my comfort zone because of this,” said Earl. We’ve been together for six years and its still a challenge for a lot of us. I don’t think it will ever be easy but it’s a challenge that we’re accepting.“ Earl’s words take life every time the group steps on stage. Awestruck in the color and fury of The Mowgli’s sound, the crowd instantly sings along and embraces the idea of community and friendship. Even beyond the stage The Mowgli’s strive to practice what they preach. The band has partnered with the International Rescue Committee, a group dedicated to aiding the global refugee crisis, on their current tour. The band has has also released their track “Room For All Of Us” in which all proceeds and revenues will be donated to the IRC. You can learn more about the International Rescue Committee and donate at Rescue.org. POSED PHOTO: Cara Bahniuk LIVE PHOTOS: Jonathon Walters INTERVIEW & STORY: Nick Yacovazzi
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HOME: Lowell, Massachusetts NOW JAMMING: White Noise CURRENTLY: Playing a string of holiday shows HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 49
It’s been more than a year since the band released their debut album, White Noise, which won the approval of many people and artists in the music scene and landed the band several tours and a few awards including “Best International Newcomer” at the 2015 Kerrang! Awards and “Breakthrough Band” at this year’s Alternative Press Music Awards. And unless the awards may have gone unnoticed to some people throughout 2015, others might have had the opportunity to see PVRIS perform at a date on this summer’s Vans Warped Tour, as they were one of the most anticipated bands to see, or listened to their cover of Sia’s “Chandelier,” which has currently been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube.
It’s around the middle of the day on a Friday at the tail end of October. There are only a few days left until Lowell, Massachusetts’ three piece PVRIS embark on a month-long European tour in support of Bring Me The Horizon. But today, vocalist Lyndsey Gunnulfsen, or most commonly known as Lynn Gunn for short, is on the phone talking about the band’s year of success. “It’s been insane,” says Gunn with excitement, but with a humbling attitude. “I think people picked up on it pretty quickly and have been more than enthusiastic about it to us. It’s been incredible to watch how people have been so respective towards it. It’s pretty surreal. I remember writing lyrics (for the album) and being like, ‘Is anyone going to understand this?’ But I don’t know, I guess they did.” 50 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
theme casts an outer sense of curiosity to the average listener into the mindset of the trio. It’s a specified element that supports the direction the band is aiming for, but it’s still early in their career.
Gunn explains she was originally going to attend college before the band started, specifically for art, but decided to decline. However, incorporating the artistic visuals into the But PVRIS’ success has not only been fueled by the songs direction and vision of PVRIS on White Noise, but also from the band’s overall dark stands as an important theme incorporated into their appearance. aspect to the vocalist. “I feel like there is this constant some sort of venom or “Being able to create visuals growing darkness inside of me and it sounds crazy, and being able to create probably, but I feel like creating and writing is the way an atmosphere and overall
We’re not going to try and fit it into a box or appeal to any certain type of person or audience.” to suck that out of my blood to get it out of my system,” Gunn says. “It’s really a cathartic experience to write and express those things because there’s no other way to really get it out. I feel like I can’t talk about things to people sometimes or I can’t properly express it in the right way. So doing that through art and through writing and music and visuals, as well, is really important.” The visual Gunn is referring to is the band’s appearance, in which they wear black clothing and include ghostly, horror movie-like images for an overall theme. While PVRIS’ catchy atmospheric rock-infused album has caught the attention of many people, the band’s dark inspired
vision is really important for us as a band,” Gunn says. “I’m a very visual thinker and I feel like I also try to lyrically create different environments and I think that’s what is so cool about music but the fact that we can do that sonically but also visually is very important for us as a band. I really like being able to create a whole different world people can dive into
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I really like being able to create a whole different world people can dive into..." and kind of escape into. It’s definitely really important. So visuals and art and anything pertaining to that have always been important to me. We really do our best to include that into what we’re doing now, and I think that’s something that is very special and is always going to be focused on a lot.”
when ultimately deciding if it would be a permanent track on the album. Everything was simple. Many would think the process and overall mindset would be different right now in the band’s current state in their career, but Gunn seems to think differently.
While Gunn speaks about why it’s so important for her to create music, there is a feeling that she absolutely needs to. It’s an aspect from the artist that suggests her creativity is pure and real, and not just a chore or something she’s doing for the wrong reasons. She is doing it because it’s something she believes in, and the band as a whole make the idea a reality. She continues to explain that creating music is extremely therapeutic for the vocalist.
“Obviously right now White Noise is the number one priority just because it’s still out and we’re still touring off of it, but we’re always working on new stuff,” she says. “I think a lot of the new material, we’re going to go about it with the same approach. We’re not going to try and fit it into a box or appeal to any certain type of person or audience. We’re just going to do what comes natural I guess, and what feels good and what we can think is honest and what we’re proud of. I think that will translate no matter what so I think if we go into the next record with the same mentality it will do just as well, if not better. The overall vision is already pretty planned out and we have a lot of material all ready to go and we can’t wait to put it out eventually. I think it’s going to be really special.”
“I think that’s the number one reason why I do it,” Gunn continues. “If anyone else wants to take things from it, then that’s just icing on the cake. That’s the reason why people do pick up on it and why people are very receptive with it because it’s made with honesty and is just made out of desperation in a way.” But there are things to consider when looking at the band’s current state. PVRIS had already gained a following prior to the release of White Noise, and once the album was released, their support kept accumulating. The band has made so much progress with their debut album for their career, which begs the question: What will their next album contain and where will it take them? Before the band went from nothing to something throughout the past year and a half, they were writing White Noise. They worked on it in a nocturnal fashion, in which they would sleep during the day and start writing closer to the evening and throughout the night. They were also in the mentality of writing something without the pressure of what people would think about the outcome. If a song was written and they liked it, there wasn’t too much to consider
Just as anyone with a vision, Gunn shows no signs of weakness and sounds pretty optimistic for the next chapter of PVRIS’ life. When guitarist Alex Babinski, bassist Brian MacDonald and Gunn release their next album, Gunn really does hope the record will be something special. Gunn is just excited to create music, regardless of what people will think about what comes next. She refers to creating music as something that acts as a relief and something that cleanses the soul. And if writing songs and being creative with this kind of artistic outlet will allow the musician to cope with the growing darkness that seems to make its way into her mind, then that factor will only provide even more of a unique twist into the next album made by the band. PVRIS’ next work will be something each member of the band personally believes in.
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â€œI actually never heard of PVRIS until we got a chance to tour with them in the fall of 2014. Lynns' voice instantly blew me away. It's undeniable and even better live. They're all extremely talented individuals and even better people too. That's a recipe for success if you ask me.â€? Jake Bundrick - Mayday Parade
"Don't forget PVRIS has the punk / hardcore values with all the success. The band knows what it's like to get in the green booger(aka a loss for words van that has no Ac and only one window rolls down) plus a car to tour the east coast with us. They are some of the most genuine and talented people I've met in my 15 years of being in this scene. Glad to be part of the PVRIS crew and be on this journey with them!" Matty Arsenault - A Loss For Words 56 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
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“There is obviously a little bit of pressure,” Gunn says. “For some reason, it almost feels like now we can do whatever we want, which is kind of ironic because you would assume that like, ‘Okay, you have this record out now and people really like it, they’ve enjoyed it and they’ve been really accepted towards it.’ This next record has to be just as good, if not better. I think we went into the studio with the intentions of creating whatever we wanted and really just experimenting and not being afraid to take risks or chances and I think that might be why (White Noise) has done so well so we wanted to go into the next record with that same mentality. We’re going to take risks and we’re going to mash things up a little bit, and if it works, it works and if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. I think for some reason we’re going into it with a lot of excitement about it. We like being risky and taking chances and doing things left of center and unexpected, but I think it will come out in a right way and not in a bad way.” Many artists would agree in order to become the best musician or band one can be, taking risks and evolving musically is the key to staying creative and fresh. But there seems to be more factors involved when there are many people and other bands who look up to someone and actually anticipate what the next step will be. “It’s a little bit of two feelings,” says Gunn about releasing new music to people in anticipation. “One thing is it’s pretty humbling. It’s unbelievable. We can’t believe that many people give a shit. At the same time, it’s like that many people give a shit, we can’t fuck this up so there is a lot of pressure at the same time, but it’s a good kind of pressure so it’s not too bad.” While there is not an official release date for the new album as of yet, Gunn says each member of the band is excited for people to hear the new material. It’s not a doubt that 2015 was a year in which PVRIS seemed to be one of the most dominant bands, and it’s only a matter of time before the world will be enlightened by what the band accomplishes in 2016. As for Gunn, it doesn’t matter to her what people will think about whatever is planned next for PVRIS because she is still enjoying what she is doing currently in her life. She is making music that she loves and that her bandmates love, and the support system they have made with their fans will only continue to grow and become stronger with time.
“I really just make it because that’s what makes sense and what feels good,” Gunn says. “To put it simply, it keeps me from doing bad things. It’s very cathartic and therapeutic and a relief. If I didn’t make it, I would have more issues than I do already. It just comes out. It’s what feels best and that’s such a cliché artist answer to have but it’s really that. For everyone listening to it, I hope they can take something away from it whether it’s a good feeling or they just enjoy the music or they feel safe from it.” PHOTOS: Sam San Roman INTERVIEW & STORY: Geoff Burns
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TOUR ROUND UP
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PHOTO: Cara Bahniuk
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PHOTO: Clark Terrell
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PHOTO: Clark Terrell
PHOTO: Sam Polonsky HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 69
One Direction ALBUM
Made in the A.M. (Deluxe Edition)
SOUNDS LIKE Olly Murs Little Mix The Wanted RECOMMENDED TRACKS “What a Feeling” “Temporary Fix” “If I Could Fly”
Drag Me Down
End of the Day
If I Could Fly
Long Way Down
What a Feeling
Love You Goodbye
I Want to Write You a Song
Walking in the Wind
BUY IT ON November 13th, 2015
Since the release of their debut Up All Night, worldwide phenomenon boy band One Direction have gone from factory-produced bubblegum pop to sultry, anthemic indie pop on their fifth LP, Made in the A.M. With the departure of Zayn Malik, the band lost one of their strongest set of vocals. However, the loss of Malik allowed for members Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan to fully debut and expose their own voices and talent on their first album as a quartet. On acoustic ballad “I Want to Write You A Song,” Tomlinson presents a solo that is raspy as well as laced with passion and emotion for a current lover. Horan also notably introduces his own once-shaded talent on the piano driven, “If I Could Fly.” The 22-year-old’s vocals are deep and smooth, making the verse well distinguished amongst the rest. Lyrically, Made in the A.M. shows that One Direction have matured exponentially from their days of singing about innocent young love to the profound, sensual lyrics of hooking up in the backseat of a cab on the Neon Trees-esque, “Temporary Fix.” Made in the A.M. also delves deeper into the depths of love with lyrics about the sensation of lust and yearning on the bass heavy, ‘70s glam-pop inspired, “What a Feeling.” Overall, Made in the A.M. is another solid addition to the One Direction discography. The album is packed with memorable choruses as well as polished and diverse song structures, making each one distinct and noteworthy.
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REVIEW: Ally Fisher
The Elephant ALBUM Tell Me I’m Pretty Cage The Elephant’s fourth studio album since 2009, Tell Me I’m Pretty, is an expansion on the successful standard they have built for themselves. However, it appears it may be less mainstream from alternative rock radio aside from singles “Mess Around” and “Trouble.” “Trouble” is perhaps the catchiest track on the album, filled with reverberating guitars and resounding “oohs” building up half of the chorus. Matt Shultz sings the charming lyrics, “My sweet love, won’t you pull me through? Everywhere I look, I catch a glimpse of you.” The pace slows down with “How Are You True,” but remains constant with the dreamy rock vibe that the band so carefully orchestrated for the record. There is a lot of reverb, which makes the record sound nostalgic, like it’s spinning on an old record player producing just the right amount of static. “Too Late To Say Goodbye” is moody, and “Cold Cold Cold” is extremely witty, making both strong standalone tracks aside from the singles. Tell Me I’m Pretty is consistent, but offers some variety among the 10 tracks. Although it is not quite as impressive as the band’s previous three albums, fans should be pleased and songs like “Trouble” should draw in an even larger audience.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Cold Cold Cold” & “Trouble” REVIEW Haley Black
Fears ALBUM Life In Real Time With sweet, enchanting melodies and heartfelt lyrics, Life In Real Time is the sophomore full length that Paradise Fears fans have been waiting for. In the last few years, Paradise Fears have not only grown in their following, but they’ve grown in their sound as well. With Life In Real Time, the band solidify themselves as an act worth taking notice of with songs that capture your ears and heart. Overall, this latest album is endlessly catchy and gripping with songs about love, loss and hope. While there are a few tracks that don’t grab as strongly as some, songs like the sugary “Who We Were With,” the subtly groovy “Sentiment” and the sweet and simple “Next To Me” catch you off guard with their infectious melodies and hold your attention. Paradise Fears is a band that has been loaded with potential, and Life In Real Time is a satisfying result of that. This album is a fun and wonderful send off for a great year of music in 2015.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Who We Were With” & “Next To Me” REVIEW Annette Hansen
Sivan ALBUM Blue Neighbourhood Besides being one of Time’s most influential teens of 2014, successful actor and YouTube personality Troye Sivan’s album Blue Neighbourhood is a gem filled with endearing humility. Sivan’s voice is velvety smooth, and the album joyfully captures how confusing being a young adult truly is. The album opens with “Wild,” which unexpectedly utilizes a harmony of children backing vocals and is immediately intriguing. Shortly after, the song transforms into a modern refreshing electro pop song with a catchy chorus and hook. The album also features many collaborations with artists from Broods to rapper Tkay Maidza, yet is able to still keep his perspective. Sivan’s tales of woe, love and heartbreak are beautifully told through simple melody lines that are purposely surrounded by danceable beats. Blue Neighbourhood is in no way groundbreaking or revolutionary, but what it lacks in innovation, it makes up for in precision, rhythm and billowy synths. Sivan’s raw talent, young wisdom and lyrical magnetism make this album a delicate nostalgic listen.
RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Wild,” “Youth” & “Talk Me Down” REVIEW Theresa Pham
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Issue #46: Ft. 2015 Artist of the Year PVRIS, New Politics, Night Riots, The Mowglis, Jordan JAE, Forest Fire Gospel Choir, with our Top 10...
Published on Dec 6, 2015
Issue #46: Ft. 2015 Artist of the Year PVRIS, New Politics, Night Riots, The Mowglis, Jordan JAE, Forest Fire Gospel Choir, with our Top 10...