S H O R T S TA C K – J U L E V E R A – T H E VA N I T Y – L I G H T Y E A R S & M O R E
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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 pablo aguilar, omar al-zidjali, 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, colleen casey, rebecca del castillo, ally fisher, trevor figge, marissa galupi, annette hansen, jessica klinner, zoe marquedant, bridjet mendyuk, theresa pham, alyssa schmidt, catie suliga, nick yacovazzi and bailey zeigler digital marketing team geoff burns news posters 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 aaron bruno, awolnation, kate cafaro, red bull records, synergy management, secret service pr, total assault, big picture media, reybee inc., brixton agency, atlantic records, black panda pr, equal vision records, the catalyst publicity group, and all of you! _________________________ 06 awolnation daniel shippey
07 the vanity clark terrell
light years submitted
short stack sammy roenfeldt
jule vera heather phillips
alien ant farm omar al-zidjali
february 08 clothing highlight 11 label highlight 12 venue highlight 13 highlighted artists 14 industry highlight 16 film highlight 18 jule vera 20 the vanity 24 light years 28 short stack 32 alien ant farm 36 awolnation 46 tour round up waterparks never shout never metro station 52 reviews
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Jimmy Eat World
Head Full of Dreams
LIGHT YEARS 24
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JULE VERA 18
20 THE VANITY
28 SHORT STACK
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32 ALIEN ANT FARM
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TEAM MEMBERS Sam Dean – Owner/Founder LOCATION Kansas City, Missouri WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND PLUG YOUR HOLES? The name is by chance. After a few hours of searching for names that fit within a certain criteria (.com, no hyphens, fewer than 14 characters, catchy), we had nothing. That’s when it started to get weird. Any and every name was on the table. And on that day (Sept 26, 2006), we finally settled on PlugYourHoles.com. WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOUR BRAND REPRESENTS? It’s pretty straight forward I guess. We want prices fairer (especially plugs) than what they were before we started and an over increase in quality of what’s on the market. As far as how we represent ourselves, it’s an outpouring of my personality and everyone else who is a contributor here at PYH. We promote an environment of high fives and stage dives, and our crew comes at it hard every day. WHAT IS THE REASON YOU STARTED YOUR BRAND? A shit job and a desire for something more fulfilling. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN AND WHY? The “Spread Your Love, Not Your Legs” shirt is very high up there. It’s by far the perfect example of how frustration can manifest itself into a joke at PYH. People have said that we’re “slut shamers,” and I would say that is far from the truth. We really made the shirt, and a couple others, in a reaction to how we felt young men and women were being pressured into oversexualization. We don’t have a problem with sex, or sexuality. We do however have something to say when people are pressured into it. We want people to be who they are at the core, regardless of what anyone (including myself) has to say about it. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE CHECK OUR YOUR BRAND? I don’t have an answer that doesn’t seem self-serving. I guess that we just are constantly doing our best to provide great plugs, designs and prices along with a constantly evolving brand.
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YOU MAY WANT TO LISTEN TO...HARVEST RECORDS Harvest Records is a sub label of Capitol Music Group, but takes on an independent approach. Founded in 1968, the Hollywood based label covers artists in both the United States and United Kingdom and is home to diverse indie and experimental bands like Matt and Kim, TV On The Radio, Arthur Beatrice, the New Basement Tapes, BANKS, Best Coast, Glass Animals, Harriet and Death Grips. Harvest built up their name with impressive artists in the music industry such as Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Duran Duran and Iron Maiden and is creating a legacy with a number of eclectic, upbeat up-and-comers.
With a relatively short life span of four years, Glass Animals has already produced a magnetic debut album that has received significant amounts of praise and recognition. With 130 shows and seven million plays on Spotify, ZABA was an undeniable favorite in 2015 with the hit “Gooey.” Glass Animals has not announced any upcoming tour dates for the new year but is currently working on a sophomore album. They recently released a single titled “Lose Control” with Joey Bada$$ as a rap cameo in October. Their offbeat, yet laid-back style is perfect for festival season, and their success has bought them time slots at Austin City Limits and Coachella. L I S T E N T O “Cocoa Hooves”
Alex Casnoff, formerly the keyboardist in Dawes, left the Americana band to front his own project, Harriet. The band just released their debut album, American Appetite, in January 2016, which was the follow-up to a single EP. When Casnoff is not playing music, he is teaching tennis lessons and scoring commercials on the side. Harriet is quite different from the genre that Casnoff played in with Dawes. It is more eclectic—a fusion of genres that sound similar to Elton John and Dutch Uncles. American Appetite is almost before its time, with a nostalgic, synthetic sound mixed with modern musical technology. The band had a difficult time finding a label that they clicked with and did not settle until Harvest Records showed interest in them. L I S T E N T O “Inheritance”
Electronic, experimental rap group Death Grips is the effort of vocalist Stefan Burnett, keyboardist Andy Morin and drummer Zach Hill. No Love Deep Web was the follow-up to The Money Store, both released in 2012. Death Grips wastes no time releasing music when they are feeling inspired. Government Plates tailed close behind in 2014, along with 2015’s The Powers That B. The Sacramento, California trio just announced they will be playing at Coachella alongside headliners Calvin Harris, the 1975, Miike Snow, Major Lazer and Sia. Death Grips regrouped after previously stating the possibility of a hiatus, but their fifth studio album, Bottomless Pit, is expected to be released within the next year. L I S T E N T O “I’ve Seen Footage”
WORDS: Haley Black
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VENUE HIGHLIGHT T H E B O M B FA C T O R Y - D A L L A S , T E X A S HISTORY Once an industrial hub near the Texas Central Railroad, the Deep Ellum district of Dallas is now the arts and music hub. Intimate music venues such as the Door, Trees, Three Links and the Prophet Bar line Main and Elm Street, hosting small indie, punk and metal acts. But just a few streets down, off of “music row,” is the refurbished Bomb Factory. During WWII, the factory manufactured bombs and ammunition, and for that, it was given it’s name. Fifty years later, it began manufacturing punk and grunge when the factory became a venue. In its heyday, the venue hosted acts such as Phish, Radiohead, the Ramones and Fugazi, just to name a few. In 2015, it reopened. Barely a year later and it’s already living up to its own hype.
WHY PLAY HERE? With plenty of other venues just streets over, it would be easy to pass by the Bomb Factory. But the Factory has a unique feature that these other venues can’t boast. This venue is customizable. With 50,000 square feet, the venue can hold as many as 4,300 people or an act can downsize creating a more intimate atmosphere. The smallest capacity available is 1,000. The functionality of the space allows it to be host to a plethora of acts.
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REVIEW: Alyssa Schmidt
HIGHLIGHTED ARTISTS KYLER DARON L O C AT I O N Boise, ID C U R R E N T S I N G L E “American Storm”
Meet Kyler Daron, rising Nashville singersongwriter. Growing with his own brand of writing, the Boise born singer delivers intimate and provoking tunes geared to reach the soul.
THE MILLENIUM L O C AT I O N Eau Claire, WI C U R R E N T S I N G L E “Stay” M E M B E R S Matt Hasenmueller – Vocals, Kyle Featherstone – Guitar and Keys & Kyle Culver – Guitar
New wave pop band, The Millenium, will have melodies sticking to you for days. The four-piece based out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin blends traditional pop style with a fusion of new wave beats, and creates an infectious sound unique to themselves.
WESTERN DAUGHTER L O C AT I O N Boise, ID C U R R E N T S I N G L E “My Room Is A Mess” M E M B E R S Cameron Brizzee – Guitar and Vocals, Taylor Robert Hawkins – Vocals, Zachary Sherwood – Drums, Jess Hopem – Bass & Taylor Raymond– Guitar
For Boise’s Western Daughter, beauty is born from the dissonance. Meshing the worlds of frantic, aggressive riffs with provoking and near shoegaze complementing vocals, the northwestern punk outfit embraces a style unique to the ways of early Modest Mouse while adding their own twist. WORDS: Nick Yacovazzi
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elliot middleton industry highlight N A M E Elliot Middleton 14 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
L O C AT I O N Manchester, UK
J O B Producer, Audio Engineer & Tutor
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STORY/WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE INDUSTRY? I started out in this industry basically recording local bands and my friends’ bands as a hobby. I would do that on weekends whilst studying at college and working a part-time job. When I wasn’t making music or recording, I would be on the road doing merch for various bands. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was building up a vast network of contacts.
YOU’VE WORKED AS A GUITAR TECH FO R NECK DEEP. WHAT HAS TOURING LIFE TAUGHT YOU ABOUT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU LEARNED ON THE ROAD THAT YOU INCORPORATE INTO YOUR WORK AT PATRON SOUND? It has definitely taught me to be directive, honest and fair. It is a pretty cutthroat industry, and it definitely pays to be the difference and to give people your time when you can, offer them a hand when they’re in need. I will always remember the band members and crew on tour that went out of their way to be friendly or help me out. At the end of the day, these are the kind of people that will go far in the industry as everyone wants to be around them or work with them.
PATRON SOUND OFFERS SEVERAL DIFFERENT SERVICES—RECORDING, MIXING, MASTERING, TUTORING, AND MORE. DID YOU RECEIVE A FORMAL EDUCATION FOR THESE OR IS IT SOMETHING YOU ACQUIRED KNOWLEDGE OF OVER THE YEARS? I did study audio engineering at college here in Manchester. It definitely gave me an understanding of the basic principles for recording and mixing. I studied the software Pro Tools in depth, taking examinations on it. I now teach this, so I really value those years of education. Really though, most of my knowledge came from hours spent on forums and watching videos online, researching as much information as possible. I had a huge drive for achieving the sound of my idols and peers, and I was willing to learn as much as I could in order to get it.
WHAT IS A COMMON MISCONCEPTION PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT YOUR JOB? The term ‘producer’ is pretty vague, so most often when I tell people what I do, they really have no idea what is involved. Because of the likes of high profile hip hop producers such as Kanye West and Dr. Dre, I imagine they normally see it as a glamorous job— making beats, sat at a huge mixing console, moving a fader every once in a while. I’m okay with that!
DO YOU THINK WORKING WITH LARGER BANDS/ARTISTS GIVES A PRODUCER MORE CREDIBILITY OR DOES IT REALLY COME DOWN TO TH E QUALITY OF THE RECORDING NO MATTER HOW BIG OR SMALL THE BAND IS? I think it does give a producer more credibility, but in the sense that working with a larger band means more time spent being creative, a greater budget and therefore a nicer studio to work from with better equipment. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with numerous local, unsigned bands however, that are very creative and diverse, allowing me to add my own unique input and take my time with the process. So I really think you can become credible no matter how big the clients, you just have to find the right artist to work with.
WHAT ARE THREE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CAREER MOMENTS? The FIRST would be guitar teching for Neck Deep at Madison Square Garden, with it being such a legendary venue and seeing videos of classic bands play there as a teengaer. The SECOND is when I completed my first full-length album as a producer, after a long and stressful recording process. THIRD would be the weekend that I basically went straight from the studio tracking drums with a band, to the airport, flying over to the U.S. to start Warped Tour. That was a crazy experience to say the least.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH? I am working more as a composer now, writing and producing my own music for commercials and short films. I would really love to score a full-length movie soundtrack. That has always been a dream of mine.
t @EllM iddlet o n
PHOTO: Joshua Halling INTERVIEW: Jessica Klinner
i @ellio t _ middlet o n
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H I G H L IG H T E D
F I L M S
The Man Who Fell to Ear th By the mid 1970s, the world had already seen David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust and Halloween Jack. He had transformed seamlessly into each eye-catching iteration and taken the glam rock scene by storm. For his next act, Bowie became Thomas Jerome Newton for The Man Who Fell to Earth. In the film, Bowie stars as an alien who comes to Earth in search of water; however, the movie isn’t your standard genre flick. Along with elements of sci-fi, there’s also plenty of romance and drama as Newton, aided by a lawyer and a hotel clerk, tries to save his planet while also evading the government’s capture. Bowie would go on to win the Saturn Award for Best Actor for his role, and the film would gain something akin to cult status amongst both his fans and filmies alike.
Labyrinth Bowie stars as Jareth the Goblin King in perhaps his best-known film, Labyrinth. The 1986 classic features Jennifer Connelly (aka the girl in Requiem for a Dream) as Sarah, a bratty teenager who must rescue her baby brother, Toby, from the Goblin King’s clutches. Jim Henson (The Muppets) and George Lucas (Star Wars) teamed up to create the fantastical world that Sarah is plunged into Alice-in-Wonderland style. It’s a trippy adventure that combines the puppetry of Dark Crystal with the surreal nature of an M. C. Escher painting. Although, the best part is the soundtrack, which features the Starman himself on vocals.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me Never mind who killed Laura Palmer. What happened to Phillip Jeffries? Bowie’s character in the Twin Peaks prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me stumbles out of an elevator in the Philadelphia FBI Offices after having been missing for two years. Cryptically, he tells Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole and Special Agent Dale Cooper that he “found something... in Seattle at Judy’s…” and that he “saw one of their meeting...” What meeting? Who’s Judy? Are you ok, Jeffries? Before these questions can be answered, he disappears again. Bowie’s performance in this quintessentially Lynchian movie may have been brief, but it’s definitely memorable and leaves audiences wondering: what did happen just past 10:10 a.m. on February 16th?
Basquiat This 1996 biopic on the neo-expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat (Jeffrey Wright) features Bowie as Andy Warhol. During their first scene together, Basquiat tries to sell Warhol some of his “ignorant art” after following him into a restaurant. The two strike up a friendship, eventually collaborating on a series in the mid 1980s that includes “Olympic Rings,” which the film features. Basquiat also features the pair painting “Amoco.” In the scene, Bowie nails Warhol’s mannerisms, patterns of speech and even posture. His grip on the role was due partially to a meeting between the two. Bowie recalled the instance, saying, “The first time we saw each other an awkward silence fell till he remarked my bright yellow shoes and started talking enthusiastically.” It seems only natural that the two would click. Warhol himself was a big influence on Bowie, inspiring his track “Andy Warhol” off of Hunky Dory.
Zoolander Bowie plays himself in one of the best cameos in movie history. In Zoolander, when model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) challenges fellow model Hansel (Owen Wilson) to a walk-off, the problem of how the competition will be judged arises. Hansel casually asks the audience, “Alright who’s going to call this sucker?” From off-screen a voice answers, “If nobody has any objections...” then the camera jumps to a tall Englishman. The figure steps forward, coolly whipping off his sunglasses to reveal his true identity—David Bowie. “I believe I may be of service,” he adds. The audience’s reaction in this moment is best mirrored by Matilda Jeffries (Christine Taylor) who stands, eyebrows raised, utterly baffled. Her face reads, “Holy shit, it’s David Bowie.”
REVIEWS: Zoe Marquedant
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H O M E Opelika, Alabama N O W J A M M I N G “Scarlet Letter” C U R R E N T LY On tour with Never Shout Never and Metro Station
IT’S A WARM JANUARY DAY AS Jule
Vera cruises along the California coastline. The band’s tour timing could not have worked out better, having escaped a monstrous snowstorm on the other side of the country in the southeast. As their friends and confidants in the South are huddled up with an absurd amount of bread and milk while searching for warmth, Jule Vera has been on a hot streak. Kicking off their first tour of 2016, the group started things off with a bang in Texas, opening up for Never Shout Never, Metro Station and Waterparks. The two-month road stint is a worlds collide operation. With the two headliners finding mainstream success in the mid-2000s, Jule Vera is on the brink of greatness and couldn’t be in better company. With a 2015 debut release, the band has been grinding every day with shows, practices, writing, recording, and the all too important bonding time with each other on and off the bus. The band’s confidence on stage and off proves that they know it too, and seize every opportunity that comes their way. Of course, Jule Vera isn’t the only one acknowledging the pop-punk band’s upswing. This past year, the five piece outfit inked a deal with Pure Noise Records, spent three months on the road on the 2015 Vans Warped Tour, earned a slot of Alternative Press’s “100 Bands You Need To Know” and put pen to paper in anticipation of their upcoming debut LP. Fairly impressive for a group only a few years removed from high school. The bands debut EP, Friendly Enemies, tackles the dark dichotomies of friendship and betrayal. All too often going hand in hand, the album looks at the swinging pendulum of friends, enemies and the people who split those titles down the middle. “The overarching theme is the notion of friendly enemies and becoming okay with yourself and problems for others. We laid the album out as a start of a relationship that is falling apart but accepting it at the end. We laid the tracks out as a story of starting on one side upset and coming out on the other end accepting it,” guitarist Jake Roland said. The essence of Jule Vera is growth. Radiant in their music and personality, the band reflects that maturity, and enlightenment is at the forefront of their message. With the
album moving left to right across the spectrum, from angry and sad to accepting and peaceful, Jule Vera’s career certainly proves the same. From starting in their small hometown of Opelika, Alabama, Jule Vera has unofficially dubbed 2016 their year. With all three of the bands’ national tours happening in 2015, the group has made the statement that they mean business, and even greater things are yet to come. “We’re currently on our third national tour and we’ve learned a lot our presence on stage but more importantly connecting with our fans on and off of it,” Roland said. “We’ve met so many people just talking after shows and over the Internet. We have a lot of really cool people we’ve established relationships with on and off tour.” “We’ve also really grown as writers and musicians,” Roland added.” We’re really looking forward to working on our next full length and seeing where it takes us. It’s been a little harder writing on the road. On our first two tours, we never did it because we wanted to get the hang of tour lifestyle, but this third time around, we have a lot more off days and in between sound check and show time, so we’ve put it on the schedule every day to try and do some writing.” Roland also acknowledged that another major factor for the band’s growth is the evolution of member chemistry and placing trust in the creative expansion of each musician. “We’ve been able to grow with each other and it’s funny, when you’re on tour you kind of have to get along with each other. (Laughs.) You kind of always have small arguments, but nothing you can’t work out or anything,” Roland said. “I think overall we’ve been relatively nice and it’s become a family. We try to love everybody and have a good time for the most part.” For the next year, Jule Vera’s primary goal is to deliver their first full length LP. Slated for an early 2017 release date, the band believes that the driving factor for the album will be growth. Writing the tracks is one thing, but taking the time to believe in one another, investing their heart and soul into fellow members along with every track, gives promise that the band is aware of everything around them-- and that the opportunities are rushing forward, waiting to be seized by the talent, love and belief in one another to do something truly special. PHOTO: Heather Phillips INTERVIEW & STORY: Nick Yacovazzi
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H O M E Austin, Texas N O W J A M M I N G “Are You Going Alone” C U R R E N T LY Home from tour
SINCE FORMING IN 2014, AUSTIN
four-piece, The Vanity, has picked up immediate momentum. From opening for Cold War Kids at South By Southwest, touring the country with BORNS and working with the renowned producer and engineer Kevin Killen (U2, David Bowie, Elvis Costello), this rock group is on the a path straight to the top of their game. Between just getting off the road and pushing their newest single “Are You Going Alone?”, Alex Dugan, lead singer and frontman of The Vanity, sat down to tell us all about the last few years of their career.
H i g h l i g h t M a g a z i n e : How’s it going? A l e x D u g a n : I’m doing good, just kind of post tour life getting reacclimated to living at home. It’s good to be home. I’m a bit of a homebody but you get so used to living like that. It’s good though; you get to see old friends and stuff. I hadn’t seen my best friend in months and he’s at law school too so it makes it harder to see him.
H M : Can you give us a little background on how you all
came together as The Vanity? A D : From my perspective, I moved to Austin three years ago just trying to find musicians and I met a guitar player who knew a bass player who knew a drummer—everybody knew somebody that knew somebody that knew somebody and we just kind of jammed. We always invited different friends over, but we would jam maybe once a week and it’d be like ‘Oh I know another drummer,’ or ‘Oh I know a bass player’ and at a certain point we were just kind of looking around the room and we’re like ‘Alright, I think this is it let’s start a band or something.’ Which is kind of a weird way to say it but like let’s start taking this kind of seriously. That’s when we started writing. When we first started writing and playing songs, we were an Americana band. It was kind of crap honestly, but I had just as much to do with that as everybody else. Through learning from each other, we developed a sound that we felt was really our own but that took a while. We’ve only been playing shows and taking this seriously for a year and a half-maybe not even the half maybe shorter. Our first real show as the Vanity was November 2014 so it’s all pretty new. But yeah, we were just jamming and meeting each other and making friends and it just kind of melded into that. I definitely had the idea of wanting a band I just didn’t know anybody.
H M : You guys are based in Austin, how do you think that environment has shaped your sound or career as a band? A D : Auggie, the bass player, is the only one really from Austin and we’ve all lived here for a couple years. I love Austin. It’s great city in general, but the music industry here 22 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
is a little bit scattered. There’s lots of music to see, but it’s hard to explain. What I would say is what most contributes to our music is us and our influences that aren’t necessarily in Austin and our own feelings about what we like and what we don’t like. We kind of come together in that sense, and that’s kind of where all our inspiration comes in terms of each other. Austin’s a great town— we wouldn’t have met if we weren’t all in Austin. But I think the fact that we were in Austin and really all like really specific things and the reasons we all found each other and the reasons we inspire each other and work off stuff so for us the real answer is the inspiration is each other and our writing ability and stuff that we like to do together and with out having met in Austin that wouldn’t have happened.
H M : You only became a band in 2014, but have already
opened for bands like Cold War Kids and BORNS. Did you ever expect to play such big shows like that relatively early one? A D : No, it kind of just sneaks up on you. We’ve been recording with this guy Kevin Killen, who’s worked with U2 and all sorts of people like David Bowie and all sorts of crazy stuff and we didn’t expect that or anything. Our manager at the time contacted him to see if he knew any young kids that wanted to work with us and he just turned around and was like ‘No! Fuck them, I want to do it.’ And it’s things like that where you just go ‘Okay’. We weren’t expecting it but were definitely completely grateful for the opportunity and that we’ve had a string of good fortune just straight down the line. It’s hard for us because were a rock and roll group kind of thing, you know we’ve got our indie and alternative and whatever you want to call it parts of it, but we’re really a rock and roll group and we’re trying to be in this specific type of genre. It’s hard to find similar bands that you can go out and play with so to have that small window and within that window they happened to say ‘Yeah you should come play with us,’ it’s just like a needle in a haystack kind of situation. We’ve been getting really fortunate this past year, but it’s definitely not something we expected.
H M : As you mentioned, you worked with Kevin Killen on
your debut EP. What was that experience like? A D : It was really cool. We obviously love to hear all the stories. I actually owe him a call because I haven’t spoken to him in a couple months now. And the last project he was working on, I remember he wouldn’t tell me. We were shooting a music video in Brooklyn. He was in Brookly,n but he was kind of secretive about what he was working [on], and I think I figured out that it was the latest Bowie record that he was engineering. I think that’s what it was, but I owe him a call. From all the stories and stuff we’ve heard, it’s
real unfortunate. But working with Kevin was fantastic. He is so dialed in. He mixed our first EP, and he produced the second one, and on the second, we got to work with him more closely. We have ideas for things and he’d be like ‘Well what about this?’ and random things and we’d be like ‘Jesus Christ, that’s cool. Oh okay.’ In “Are You Going Alone?”, which is the track we’re pushing on the radio right now, we had this basic micro chord sound that was kind of pulsating like it is now, but he ran it through all these crazy Kevin Killen type reverb things and he was like ‘What do you think about this?’ while we were webcasting with him. He was in like Sweden at the time. We were just like ‘Oh my god! Yeah, sure.’ But that’s the thing, he just kind of surprises us. Every time we had an acoustic song, we wrote with all four of us together, and we had all these things built around it. He would have all these crazy ideas and we were like ‘Yeah okay, let’s go for it.’ None of that would’ve happened without him. He’s awesome. Hearing all the U2 stories helps too. It makes you feel cool.
H M : What is the ‘highlight’ of your career so far? A D : I’ve always been told in music, there’s a horizon. Most
recent in my memory is in Columbus at Newport Music Hall with BORNS. That was a lot of fun. That or Cold War Kids
in Dallas. I like big crowds so that kind of stuff is always fun for me. And we’ve been doing this radio promotion thing in Vegas. They do this face off thing and we’ve won like eight nights in a row. We’re like in the hall of fame so in a way that’s my new answer.
H M : What are your plans for the rest of the year? A D : We’re always working on writing new music and
working on all sorts of stuff. We want to get out and we want to tour. That’s really what we want to be doing we want to [be] playing in front of people. We’re better live than in any other format so its just kind of what we have to recognize. For that reason, we just want to be in front of as many people live. So definitely getting out to play for people, touring and stuff like that is big for us. But writing new music, I mean, we’re never going to stop doing that so we’re just constantly working on new stuff and hopefully that new stuff carries us. And I’d love to see “Are You Going Alone?” all over the radio; hopefully all over the country! We’re starting pretty strong so far so we’ll see. PHOTO: Clark Terrell INTERVIEW: Jennifer Boylen
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H O M E Cleveland, Ohio N O W J A M M I N G “Living in Hell” C U R R E N T LY Wrapping up a tour with Neck Deep and State Champs in the UK
IN A LOT OF WAYS, LIGHT
Years and I have trailed along together discovering the same, small sector of the music industry and following our respective dreams. From standing in the same living room they played one of their first shows in 2011 (which my roommate made the flyer for) in northern Ohio to playing sold out shows in Japan. So when lead singer and guitarist Pat Kennedy said he’s become an old pessimist over the years, I can’t help but think the same thing. Unless you take into account their nearly perfect, sophomore record, I’ll See You When I See You released via Rude Records in November, which Kennedy is proud to call one of the best things he’s ever made. “It turned out how I pictured it in my mind,” he recalls. “This [record] went really smooth. Everything just came together so well. Regardless if anyone buys it, this is something I’m very proud of; it’s something I made. I can show my friends’ kids like, ‘Look what I did!’ Maybe someone will hear it when I’m dead and think it’s okay.” The record is a slam dunk when it comes to melody. It’s packed full of clean guitar breaks and poppy bridges. It’s easy to see how the group progressed from playing crowded DIY spaces to putting on sold out shows. Yet, Kennedy said it doesn’t come without compromise. From relationships breaking off due to the band’s touring or jeopardizing career opportunities, it’s been a tough road. At the end of the day, it’s “the dream,” and Light Years have come a long way. “Trying to keep everything in line at home is the hardest part [about being in a band]— keeping a job, a girlfriend, a friend at all,” Kennedy says. “ I know for a fact that I will never love anything as much as I love playing in a band and going on tour. I know it won’t be a ‘career.’ I won’t be making money, so someday I will have to sell out and get a job in upper management at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I can’t see myself having the same feelings about anything except playing guitar. As long as I’m still getting the opportunity to do it, I’m going to do it.” As we chat about how getting older and more cynical gets in the way of chasing childhood dreams, Kennedy laughs and says he “sounds way more depressing” out loud than he had originally thought in his head. Yet, the Cleveland band’s pop punk record is about how growing into an adult,
well, sucks. I’ll See You When I See You brings up toxic relationships, adulthood, dreams and real life struggles many of us face in our mid-twenties. “We’re older than a lot of bands in the scene and we’re at a different point in our personal lives,” Kennedy says. “A lot of these songs are [about] dealing with the fact that I want to keep playing music and be in a band, but the reality is I make [no money] from it. How long do I go on without health insurance? Living month to month, week to week, [is rough].” Yet, with every hardship brings another easier route to being a band, Kennedy explains. For instance, the group no longer has to text their friends to play in their basement. Light Years have a booking agent now and are signed to Rude Records. With their new album gaining positive reviews, hopefully the band will “break out to the next level,” even though their current track list of opening slots include: Neck Deep, State Champs, Fireworks, Four Year Strong, Handguns and the Wonder Years. Kennedy says the group’s “aha” moment was when they played in Japan while on tour with Fireworks. “There were people there singing along to a song we wrote in a basement in Ohio; they were singing in a language we don’t really understand,” Kennedy recalls. “It was a sold out show and people were going crazy. It was the coolest thing because here were these people who couldn’t be more different culturally, but are exactly the same [as us] in a way.” It’s no secret the band has grown up and into their current sound with more ease than the bands they once shared a crowded living room with five years ago. Their album is catchy, melodic and brings their favorite pop punk influences (Blink-182, New Found Glory, Saves The Day) full circle in terms of where they once stood in the scene. With the new year upon them, Kennedy says he hopes to keep the dream alive and tour Australia, saying “It’s a bucket list thing.” “It looks like paradise and bands go there so when we find someone who can book a show there, I’ll spend every last penny I have working at a pizza shop to do it,” Kennedy says. “If there’s three other people in the band willing to sacrifice, then I’m going to keep [moving forward].” PHOTOS: Submitted | INTERVIEW & STORY: Bridjet Mendyuk
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H O M E New South Wales, Australia N O W J A M M I N G Homecoming C U R R E N T LY Fresh off the Homecoming Tour, now gearing up to write a new album
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WHILE IT’S ABOUT 9:30 P.M. ON THE EAST COAST OF THE UNITED STATES, SHAUN DIVINEY, FRONTMAN OF THE NEW SOUTH WALES POP ROCK TRIO SHORT STACK, IS GETTING READY FOR LUNCH. “We’re quite fortunate that we have been successful so young, so we can do whatever we want,” Diviney said through a Skype conversation. All three members are only in their mid-20s, and they have managed to sell out headlining shows, have two top 10 albums and three top 10 singles. As if that’s not enough to take in, they’ve also managed to break up and reform, ultimately bringing the release of their newest album, Homecoming. However, the break up allowed the members to take some time off in order to regain their musical passion. Short Stack was gearing up to release their previous album Art Vandelay in 2012, until the band announced on their Facebook page in March of the same year that they were calling it quits. “I think in the band we didn’t feel like we were accomplishing anything really in making music,” Diviney said. “We felt like we were just making music just for the sake of it. I think a lot of bands sort of fall in that position when they get a bit successful. We took a step back from it and accessed the situation and said, ‘This isn’t really what we want to do.’ So we took a break.” After the announcement, Diviney went on to pursue a solo career, which started the same year as the band’s departure. He wrote and released an EP in October 2013, which was positively received by the public. “I was surfing pretty much everyday, that was pretty much it,” Diviney said. “We didn’t really go out of our way to accomplish anything incredible when the band broke up. We just wanted to chill out and relax for a couple of years. I had my own record, which was just a little bit of fun and it wasn’t anything too serious. We didn’t tour on it that much. I just sort of chilled out.” While the band took a few years apart from each other, the time of separation actually helped each member of the band regroup and miss playing music together. Diviney said each member was making music individually, and the process of doing that and knowing it was each person creating music alone instead of as a full band together just didn’t sit well with everyone. “It’s something that we’ve done from such a long time to all of a sudden have it go,” Diviney said. “It wasn’t something we missed all of a sudden. It was something we missed after a long time, especially when each of us were making
music individually. We were all making music at the same time just not with each other and it was kind of weird. So we decided to step back. We really just missed it and it was cool to do it again.” In 2014, Short Stack announced that the band was officially back together. Instinctively, they hit the studio to write material for what is now known as Homecoming. But this time was different for the trio. Instead of not spending too much time on each song, which has been done on previous albums, Diviney said there was a lot of time put into each song on the 10-song album. “We always just write about our lives, I guess,” Diviney said. “It is more of a stylistic choice for us to be honest. I feel like when we were growing up we concentrated so much on the Blink 182 and NOFX side of things. We missed out on a really good side of the 90s alternative scene like Weezer and the Strokes and stuff. We revisited them little bit on this album, so it’s been cool.” While the album has been out since August and touring for the album has been taking place, Diviney said the majority of 2016 is going to include focusing on a new album and finding the exact direction they want to take this album. “We’re sort of getting a new record together and figure out stylistically of where we want to go,” Diviney said. “There’s so many influences the older you get. I don’t find myself listening to newer music, I find myself listening to older music like the Beach Boys and stuff like that and just creating something that we think is fresh and I think as long as we feel like we’ve got something to say then we feel like we’ll love it.” After Short Stack’s successful career as a band, reformation after a break-up and several albums that have made it into the ears of fans throughout the world, Diviney said everyone in the band is in the right frame of mind. “We don’t have any sort of expectations of what we do; we just have total creative freedom, which is sort of awesome and a really good position for us to be in,” Diviney said. “We’re happy and content with our lives both on and off stage. As a band compared to all of the other bands we hang out with and stuff, I think as individuals we’re all in just a really good place and at the end of the day that’s what’s the most important. You have to be healthy. “ PHOTOS: Sammy Roenfeldt INTERVIEW & STORY: Geoff Burns HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 31
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H O M E Riverside, California N O W J A M M I N G Always and Forever C U R R E N T LY Playing one-off shows across the US
ALIEN ANT FARM IS A BAND THAT
many of us know and love. They’re one of those bands that remind you of a particular event or time in your life. Over 20 years after forming, they still have this same presence within the music industry, especially in regards to their album Anthology. They have just finished a U.K. and European tour celebrating the 15th anniversary of Anthology, and even this many years later, they have managed to sell out almost every single date on this run. The success of this album is simply a testament to the talent and persistency of this band. They toured extensively at the beginning of their career, not only throughout the U.S but also put a lot of effort into going across the world to the U.K., laying down the groundwork for the future. In 2001, Alien Ant Farm pretty much ruled the world. Following the release of their first single, “Movies,” they went on to release their iconic cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” The music video mirrors the original video but has its own humorous twist. Alien Ant Farm’s rendition of “Smooth Criminal” was voted #2 on the MTV Countdown in 2001. Then again that year they were nominated for a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. It’s hard to imagine how surreal it must be to have these achievements so early on in your career as well as have your second studio album go platinum. With so many years ahead of them, it would be hard to top “Smooth Criminal” or even fight the title of being one-hit wonders. In August 2003, they released truANT. The expectations for this album must have been high considering the astonishing success of the previous album and the fact that the DeLeo brothers of Stone Temple Pilots fame produced it. Unfortunately, the album didn’t even touch the popularity of Anthology as was the case with 2006’s Up In The Attic, which peaked in the three-digit range on the rock charts. However, 20 years after forming they are still touring, still selling out shows and still selling albums. Although they’ve had to put up with so much during the course of their career, they’ve overcome everything that’s been in their way and are still standing today. “It’s really awesome and it really blows us away to know that [Anthology] had such an impact,” guitarist Terry Corso said. “And we went over to the U.K. around six months ago and it was like 10 shows with POD and Hoobastank and it was really cool to figure out as we went that our record didn’t just have hit songs; we had a hit record that actually helped shaped peoples lives if you will. It sounds drastic, but it accompanied people in their lives through the last 10, 15 years. You know people went to college on our record or they drove across the country or it was popular to listen to on a specific holiday. You know all these different things; they met their fiancé or wife listening to ‘Attitude’.” 34 - HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET
It really is incredible for any band to be able to play just one album the entire way through for a full tour. There are only a limited number of albums that come to mind as being strong enough to hold their own throughout a month-long tour on the opposite side of the world, and Anthology is one of those. “The crowds have been fantastic, the faces have been smiling and that makes everything just perfect. Just to hear the people sing, when we started “Movies” last night, the scream was hard to explain,” Corso said. “It’s like when you watch that old Beatles footage and you hear that scream. I mean I’m used to the sound of a crowd, you know a cheering crowd, but that high-pitched scream was something new. It was exciting; it gets you moving on stage, gets your adrenaline pumping.” In 2015, the guys returned after a five-year hiatus with their album Always and Forever. The release of the album was a long process especially considering recording started in 2011. As a way to combat the issues they were facing, they decided to fund the album though PledgeMusic. “We kept running into roadblock after roadblock with the record label and stalling out until finally the relationship more or less stagnated, and so we had a record that needed to be finished and released,” Corso reminisced. “We turned to the fans and the fans helped us hit our mark, even a little over our mark, so it was great [that] we got to go in and finish up. Pledge[Music] is very cool cause we’re actually offering like cool opportunities or items in return. We did some cool stuff. We had one guy we know who’s a big fan and he turned up to shows, like 8 or 9 of our gigs in different cities, and we kinda got to know him and we offered an item called the Golden Ticket, which basically gets you into any Ant Farm show for life. He was the one that got it of course!” This album was different from any of their past releases for numerous reasons. They ventured into a new sound by working with co-writers, in particular those with hip-hop and R&B backgrounds. These influences are evident throughout the album in the guitar riffs, the melody and even the lyrics. The song “Let Em know” off of the record was the first time they had used tracks and mechanical sounds as well as the delivery of the lyrics having a more rap vibe. “It was the first time we wrote with top writers, and we did it at suggestion; it wasn’t like we were forced into it,” he said. “A few years before that record I had rejoined the band after leaving for about 4 years, and I was super excited about writing again, especially writing Ant Farm songs cause it was always like my baby. The guitar playing and a lot of the riffs and the song writing is our style, our
individual styles coming together and becoming Ant Farm. And that’s great. We know we can do that. We’ve always done that, and we wanted to try some things outside of our box.” Being together for such a long period of time, it’s unavoidable to have some lows as well as the many high points in a career. Alien Ant Farm has undoubtedly been through most things imaginable. “I mean we’ve been through so much as a band. We’ve been through pretty much everything from bus wrecks to being in love with each other then hating each other, like a family,” Corso said. “I went through all my medical stuff; we’ve done all this touring. We had the rapid acceleration of success with this band and the cliff-fall, the decline of falling away from public view. When you go up sometimes you’ve got to come down. You know there was dealing with record labels, like DreamWorks closed their doors after we released truANT. They kinda stalled us out. So you know Always and Forever was just kind of the title as a testament to no matter what comes at us, we can somehow manage to pull ourselves back up and keep moving forward, doing what we’ve always loved to do and being who we are.”
However on the flip side, they have had some astounding experiences. Things most of us dream of. The one that jumps to mind for Corso is being invited to play at the “Michael Forever” tribute in Cardiff, which was held to celebrate and honor Michael Jackson’s life and achievements. “It was really fulfilling, and it was a good, solid affirmation to what we had done with his song and all anybody told us that day was how much he loved our version, how proud he was of it and how he thought we were very bold and talented. I think that whole damn thing was pretty surreal,” Corso said. There are so very few bands now that can survive for the length of time as Alien Ant Farm; few that have that raw individuality and have influenced entire genres of music. Their impact within the music industry will continue to be relevant and to inspire others. There are still many years to come for Alien Ant Farm and the future looks blindingly bright. PHOTOS: Omar Al-Zidjali (live) The Don Photography (posed) INTERVIEW & STORY: Megan Young
“ w e ’ v e been t h r oug h so m u c h as a b an d.”
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MOST SOME THEN, THERE MUSIC IS THE
PEOPLE LIKE MUSIC. P E O P L E T O L E R AT E I T. A R E T H O S E W H O F E E L T H AT V E RY C O R E O F T H E I R B E I N G .
Awolnation frontman and mastermind Aaron Bruno would categorize himself as the latter. Having spent well over a decade in various bands and in the music industr y, Bruno has taken his passion for music to places far beyond his own aspirations with Awolnation. Awolnation first put their name on the map in 2011 with the release of their single “Sail” off their first full-length record, Megalithic Symphony. The song eventually reached platinum level of success earning the band their first massive hit.
While such an eclectic sound can be off-putting for casual listeners, Awolnation wasn’t trying to reach those people with this record, “It’s one thing to like a band because they like their catchy tunes on the radio; it’s another thing to become a lifetime fan, “It was a really happy accident, and I suppose I’ve never really been to get the lyrics tattooed. We have both of those able to digest what that song did and what it continues to do for me fans. I feel a bit more drawn to the lifers rather and for everyone that’s been affected by it,” Bruno expressed. than the people who click purchase for a single,” Bruno expressed. The catchy and grungy single managed to grasp the attention of the masses despite the industry’s initial rejection. The band considers these fans, the “lifers,” to be a part of the “Awolnation” with them. In honor of “No one thought it would do as well as it did; no one thought it that, the band started the hashtag #iamawolnation would even been a single. I can’t tell you how many different radio last year, inspired by Run single “I Am.” The stations said they would never play it, and they ended up playing it hashtag allows fans to share their lives and stories probably too much,” Bruno explained. “It seems like the kind of song on social media with a community of other fans. that people never get sick of, so I’m really proud to have one of those under my belt because those only come once in a lifetime.” “It’s really fun to see what people’s interpretation of their own life and their own persona really is. Awolnation has built a career on exceeding expectations. With a I’m still trying to figure out who I am every day. musical style that seems to draw from many facets of music such It’s just a way to bond and unite with your fans as pop and soul, punk and grunge, the band’s music can be a bit and bring it back to a very simple human level,” hard to pin down. But it was that drive, to create something beyond Bruno said. expectations, which pushed Bruno to take his songwriting to new limits on the band’s latest album, Run. “My main goal was to make the best album I was capable of making,” Bruno said. “I think a lot of people would have expected something different, and it was my absolute pleasure and joy to turn it into to something most people weren’t expecting.” Run features an array of sounds. From songs that play more like electronic-tinged alternative to more soulful piano rock numbers to stripped down acoustic ballads. There’s no formula or limit to the range of stylization on this record. “I’m a sponge, I guess. I just absorb everything I hear and absorb all the information that’s traveled in and out of my brain,” Bruno explained. “I think at this point in my life I’ve heard so much music that I feel that I have a very wide variety and a pretty large library of references, but I’m constantly searching to find more.”
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H O M E Los Angeles, California N O W J A M M I N G “Windows” from Run C U R R E N T LY Getting ready to head out on the Wintour is Coming tour with FallHIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET Out Boy and PVRIS - 39
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“People gave up on the idea of me making a living on music. I don’t know if I ever gave up.”
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With the one small act of community, Awolnation has had the opportunity to see how their music inspires and impacts their listeners. “Hopefully, these songs, even if it’s just a couple of seconds of the song or one lyric, can help someone through the day or celebrate the good day they’re having,” Bruno expressed. “That’s what music’s done for me, so if I’m doing that for anyone else, it’s a dream come true.” And it isn’t just the fans that find solace in the music, Bruno finds acceptance in their support. Starting from playing small shows in front of even smaller crowds to seeing millions take hold of his songs, Bruno has taken just as much from them as they have from him.
I still wake up every day and feel shocked that people are actually hearing the music I make.”
“I still can’t believe I have one fan besides my mom. I still wake up every day and feel shocked that people are actually hearing the music I make,” Bruno mused. “It means everything to me. Of course, it doesn’t change who I am necessarily... I feel the same confidence I’ve always felt, the only difference is there are people there who agree with me.” Now that Run has been out for nearly a year, Awolnation is taking on the next leg of their journey in the form of their first arena tour. This spring Awolnation will be joining alternative giants Fall Out Boy as openers on the upcoming Wintour Is Coming tour.
“Every night we’re used to having to blow all these people away that paid their hard earned money to come see us,” Bruno said. This time around, though, Bruno said the band’s happy to be taking a step back. “It’s fun to be the underdog again and open up for someone and try to gain new fans,” Bruno stated. “That’s probably more rewarding and enjoyable to me than even playing our own headline show.” With the Wintour Is Coming tour, Awolnation wants to gain more than a few fans. They see touring under a band with long-term success like Fall Out Boy a great learning opportunity. “[Success] wasn’t handed to [Fall Out Boy]; they definitely worked really hard to get where they’re at,” Bruno expressed. “They’ve done a great job maintaining their success. I’m looking forward to seeing out they operate and picking their brain a little bit.” HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 43
Awolnation has performed on large stages, small stages and everything in between, but this spring will be the first time the band has ever done a full tour with nothing but arena-filled crowds. A larger sea of people may be exciting to experience each night, but it’s something more chaotic and intimate that they crave from their live interactions. “There’s something very special about ‘the more the merrier’ mentality. But you’re much further away, so of course you can’t physically touch them or share sweat together,” Bruno described. “To me, the best, most exciting shows are the ones with a sense of urgency and everybody’s kind of like smashed in together and there’s crowd surfing and moshing. That’s what I grew up loving and getting an adrenaline rush from, so that’s what I enjoy most.” But with this larger scale event, Bruno wants to make sure that every last person is engaged, no matter how far away or detached they are. “I’m not trying to hit the people right in front of me, I’m trying to hit the dude that’s not paying attention and just sat down from getting popcorn in the nose bleed seats,” he said. And it’s those moments, that are oh-so evident in the live music sphere, that remind Bruno why making this music matters so much to him. The way the music connects him to one other individual or thousands of individuals. “Just hearing a sea of people sing the lyrics I’ve written and the melodies I’ve written, that continues to be the most rewarding thing,” Bruno said. As Bruno mentioned before, this connection only validates the confidence he has in the art that he creates and finds essential to his creative process. “I think that with music everybody’s got an opinion about it. You just got to know that you’re right,” Bruno said. “Every time I go to write a song, I believe that it’s the best song ever written. The minute I give up on that ambition I think that the songs will suffer, the art will suffer.” With that confidence, creativity and an army of support, Awolnation has helped Bruno find his place in the only world he ever wanted to be a part of, a world full of music and art and expression. When you are one of those people who feels that pull to a creative call, there is nothing you can do but create, and Bruno was able to accomplish that successfully. “People gave up on the idea of me making a living on music. I don’t know if I ever gave up. I just knew I had to make music; it’s what I love most. I’m a lifer. That’s all I know,” Bruno explained. “It’s what I care about most. It’s not really about different trophies or how many records I’ve sold or how many plaques I get or awards… I’m mostly lucky I found my place and it wasn’t a dream, it was an actual reality.” PHOTOS: Daniel Shippey & Cara Bahniuk (Page 36/37) INTERVIEW & STORY: Annette Hansen
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TOUR ROUND UP
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PHOTO: Heather Phillips HIGHLIGHTMAGAZINE.NET - 47
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The Rocket Summer ALBUM
SOUNDS LIKE Jack’s Mannequin Dashboard Confessional Mae RECOMMENDED TRACKS “Help Me Out” “White Fireworks”
Help Me Out
Get Over It
You Are, You Are
Rule of Thirds Kind of Life
BUY IT ON February 26th, 2016
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The last time we heard from Bryce Avary of the Rocket Summer was back in 2012 with the release of the rather successful, Life Will Write the Words. The album, which debuted at #58 on the Billboard 200 chart as well as #12 on the Billboard Modern Rock/Alternative, yields high expectations for Avary’s newest release, Zoetic. The album opens with the cacophonic “Cold War,” which features heavy synth bass, strong screeching guitars and the notorious Rocket Summer piano— a promising introduction for the highly anticipated album. It continues with an eclectic track listing, leaving no room for boredom or repetition of the same few chords. Most notably is “White Fireworks,” a drum-heavy listen with extremely catchy choruses, eccentric guitar riffs and powerful vocals from Avary. “Rule of Thirds Kind of Life,” adds for more diversity on the album as the heaviest track with raspy vocals as well as a continuous accelerating tempo from the guitars and drums, an unforeseen shift in styling for the Rocket Summer. Overall, Zoetic is a favorable addition to the Rocket Summer’s discography. The songs all have their own unique flow and beat, creating a consistently engaging album that will sure be an enjoyable experience for all listeners.
REVIEW: Ally Fisher
A r t i s t Rozes A l b u m Burn Wild You may know Rozes from her hit song “Roses” with the Chainsmokers. This Philly girl is here to take on the music scene with her new EP, Burn Wild. An alt-pop feel shows through her unique and powerful vocals, and it’s definitely not something that should be missed. You’ll catch yourself dancing along to “R U Mine” and the standout track, “In and Out,” which I’ve caught myself going back to every time I listen to the EP. Overall, I really enjoyed this EP, and I definitely see myself listening to this more. My only complaint is that I wish there was more variety in the melodies as well as the lyrics. If you want more alt-pop tunes to add to your collection, I suggest checking this out upon its release! r e c o m m e n d e d t r a c k s “In and Out” & “Desirable” r e v i e w Catie Suliga
A r t i s t The Starting Line A l b u m Anyways Pop-punk veterans the Starting Line’s new EP, Anyways, has been eight years in the making and will leave you wanting more. The three song EP is nostalgic and starts with the title track “Anyways.” The title track would fit perfectly on their last release, Directions. The only difference is lead singer Kenny Vasoli’s vocals are more mature and rougher around the edges. The second track “Quitters” is a much faster and more energetic song that will have you jumping up and down in seconds. The fun-loving song is guitar heavy, but oddly lacks a strong hook. It is a solid pop-punk jam and a refreshing unexpected breather in the middle of the EP. Anyways closes out with “Luck,” a melancholy, anthemic lullaby that can wash away all your worries. There is a comforting warmth about the track that serves as a reminder to those who are still “waiting for their luck to turn.” Overall, the EP is a fantastic listen and a reminder that the Starting Line is still as ever. All that is left is to anxiously wait for the full-length album. r e c o m m e n d e d t r a c k s “Anyways,” “Quitter” & “Luck” r e v i e w Theresa Pham
A r t i s t Simple Plan A l b u m Taking One For The Team Upon listening to the opening track, “Opinion Overload,” Simple Plan’s fifth studio album, Taking One For The Team, sounds like the same band from the early 2000s that released No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls and Still Not Getting Any. Of course with age comes inevitable evolution, which Simple Plan is not exempt from. This album is a lot more pop driven than the early, angst-filled punk rock years that launched their career. “Kiss Me Like Nobody’s Watching” is certainly catchy, but it is a bit cheesy with its standard beat. “Singing In The Rain” is an attempt at a ska, island jam, which does not fit their classic style. Nelly is featured on the track “I Don’t Wanna To Go To Bed,” which is an interesting artistic collaboration to say the least. Taking One For The Team lacks the timeless nostalgia that fans who have grown up with the band long for. This is true for the majority of the album aside from the track, well, “Nostalgic.” But we all know the same record cannot be made twice, no matter how good it is. So fans will just have to throw it back in order to dwell in the memories of their adolescent years. r e c o m m e n d e d t r a c k s “Opinion Overload” & “Nostalgic” r e v i e w Haley Black
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