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FEATURES 4 - A Great Big World 6 - Mary Lambert 10 - You Me At Six 16 - Tay Jardine 20 - Breathe Carolina 24 - Cartel 30 - All Time Low 54 - Toy Soldiers 56 - Echosmith 60 - NGHBRS 62 - Gentleman Hall

EDITORIAL 8 - OpEd 9 - Playlist 36 - The Naked Eye: Live Photos 52 - Photo Special: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade



Catherine Powell

Isabelle Chapman Noah Tavlin


COPY CHIEF Nicola Pring



Catherine Powell

Tatiana Baez Jenna Ross Alexandra Tse

DESIGNER Catherine Powell


Jackie Bui, Susan Cheng, Tara DeVincenzo, Stacy Magallon, Christine O’Dea, Shina Patel, Stephanie Petit, Catherine Powell



Eight years ago, while attending New York University, Ian Axel met Chad Vaccarino. When they first met, the guys decided Ian would work on a solo project and Chad would help co-write songs and manage the project. But like, many things in life, it didn’t go as planned. Ian’s solo project was soon signed to a label, but the label folded, so they began writing songs that worked well for both their voices and decided they needed to turn it into a collaborative effort. In August of 2012, the boys launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to record their new material. “We didn’t have any money,” Ian says. “We honestly could not have recorded it without raising the money.” They were able to reach their goal on Kickstarter with the help of the following Ian had gained through his solo project because the fans were eager to hear new music. After recording their new songs, Chad and Ian began working with a manager. At this point, around October of last year, all they had were their recorded songs. They didn’t have a website or even a name. Then they found that FOX’s hit show Glee was going to cover “This is the New Year,” a song Ian had originally released under his solo project. They quickly rebranded themselves as A Great Big World, got a website up and running and re-released the song. Ever since, there’s been no telling what will happen for A Great Big World. The guys were excited when they found out the song would be on Glee. “It was literally like walking into our dream and it still feels like that,” Ian says. After Ian’s original record deal didn’t work out, the boys were a bit hesitant to start working with another one so soon. However, when they met with Epic Records and CEO L.A. Reid, their doubts began to wash away. When they met with Reid they could tell that the label was passionate about the new project. It just started to make sense to them. They have no regrets about their decision and knew that the timing was just right. This past year has been a huge milestone for A Great Big World. “Things will happen in all directions and I’ve just been like, ‘Ok, Woah that’s crazy,’” Ian says. The guys have had to

learn not to expect normalcy because things change every day. Ian says that has been a little tough — he loves having a routine, so it can be difficult when he’s on tour and doesn’t know where the band will be going next, or where he’ll eat his next meal. “The beginning of the year I was panicky and now I feel like I’m dealing with it a lot better, although I do still yell at Chad a lot,” Ian says, laughing. After the song appeared on Glee, Chad and Ian have been thrown into a whirlwind of possibilities and they have learned to accept the fact that there will be days where they learn that the next day they’ll be on a plane flying to a different city, and there is very little time to adjust. They know that if they believe in what they do, things will happen. “You manifest it when you believe it,” Chad says. In October of 2013, Chad and Ian released a four-song EP. Every song on it has something different to offer: one has a threat of sadness, another has positivity to it and another is hopeful. These four songs will also appear on their full-length album, which they say will be released “soon-ish.” The songs for the full-length have been recorded for a couple months now, but every time the guys listen to them, they come back with changes they want to make. Chad and Ian are willing to take advantage of the time they have to change the song to make it fit who they are. While touring, releasing their EP and working on their full-length album, Ian and Chad have been writing a musical. Although Chad says that they are almost halfway done, Ian doesn’t think they’re quite that far along. “We’ve made a dent,” he says. They find that writing for a musical is very different than writing for an album. The musical songs need to embody the characters and the songs need to have a purpose in order the move the story further along. They find it easier to write songs for the musical because it is not real and they can dream up anything they want for the characters. They’re not ready to talk about the story yet, but once they have a director they can make the big announcement. For now, they’ll continue making music, working toward their album release and pursuing musical theater dreams. NKD NKDMAG.COM



Mary Lambert knows right where she wants to be. The 24-year-old singer, who has collaborated with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, has had her fair share of struggles. Today, she says she has found her way. “This is what I was born to do, and I know that. I’m in the right place,” Mary says. “Everything is surreal.” Mary was raised in Seattle, by religious, Pentecostal parents. “I was raised very heavily in the church. A lot of things were evil,” she says. “The Smurfs were evil. We couldn’t watch Dennis the Menace...We only


listened to Christian music.” Mary’s father sexually abused her when she was young, and it was during this time that Mary’s mother realized she was gay. After her mother came out as a lesbian and her parents became separated and then divorced, Mary and her family were asked to leave their church when Mary was 6 years old. After the divorce, the two had joint custody of Mary and her brother. Following the divorce, Mary’s mom fell into depression. She spent her days writing sad songs, and

Mary, who was also consumed by sadness, decided that she wanted to try songwriting as well. “She is an amazing writer,” Mary says of her mother, “and that’s kind of where I get it.” When Mary was 9, her mom became involved with her first female partner. Mary recalls her mother’s partner as being even more difficult than her father. “That woman was worse than my father,” she says. “She never physically hurt us, but she hated us. She hated me and my brother. She was evil. It was awful.” Looking back on her childhood, Mary says she was rather offbeat. “I was just a really weird kid. I think when you have such severe abuse or trauma in your life, you have to cope with it somehow,” she says. “For me, it was creating a delusional world where everyone loved me and I was the most popular girl in school.” Mary created this alternate world and then applied it to her real life when she began playing the piano and writing her own music to play for her peers. She remembers feeling more widely accepted once other kids became aware of her talent. “People always ask me how I started playing music and I would say, ‘So and so inspired me or my mom,” she says. “But truthfully it was because I wanted people to like me.” It was during her high school years that Mary was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Looking back on it now, she says her diagnosis made sense. “I was always like, ‘I’m not bipolar, I’m just a teenager, just sometimes I want to commit suicide,’” she says, “I was always very active in everything in school and I knew it was me trying to cope. But at some point, you have to deal with your shit.” It was perhaps her bipolar disorder, coupled with her anger toward the church, and her struggle to accept herself that enabled her to transform during her adolescent years. Mary recalls her early years in high school as a time when she was obsessed with boys, but also found that she was making out with her girlfriends too. “I was obsessed with boys, it was what I lived for. I just wanted to be loved, you know?” she says. At 17, Mary met a girl through her school’s theater program and realized she was gay. After her relationship with her first girlfriend ended, Mary fell into a depression. She later went on to meet the girl

she calls the love of her life, her one true love. Even though they are no longer together, Mary still holds on to her strong belief in love. “Every time these relationships have saved me, I’ve always lived for love,” she says, “I’ve lived for relationships.” Mary attended Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle on scholarship, where she studied to become a music teacher. In college, she partied hard and experimented with drugs. She says she loved the transformation she felt, but stopped experimenting when she found poetry. She attributes poetry and spoken word, which would later influence her songwriting, to saving her life. Now she is open and honest about her experiences and the decisions she has made. “You make yourself go crazy if you just keep everything bottled up,” she says, “I think that a lot of people become really self-destructive.” Mary tries to use her struggles and painful past in her work to create music and connect with her audience. “As an artist, you get to do that every night and it resonates with other people, and you get to impact people however you choose and it allows people to be vulnerable,” she says. “I think vulnerability can change the world.” Of her collaboration with Macklemore, Mary says she wrote her full-length part of the song in only two hours. Prior to writing the song for Macklemore, Mary had written a poem about being gay and the church. She wasn’t sure she wanted to touch on that in her music, but she found that a lyric she had written: “I’m not crying on Sundays,” was perfect for the song. “I wanted to make sure the chorus didn’t sit politically either,” she says. “I wanted it to resonate as a universal truth, and that’s love.” Mary is on tour with Macklemore until the middle of December, and she is also working on her second EP, which is set to be released in January. She plans on recording a music video before the year’s end. For now, everything is surreal to Mary, but she knows that she is right where she is meant to be. “I don’t think it could get any better, to be doing something you’re proud of artistically and to also have an impact on people in a positive way, in some cases, change people’s lives,” she says. “I hit the jackpot. I get to make my living off of that and meet wonderful people. You hope and you dream for things and it doesn’t ever actually feel tangible and then it actually happens and you feel just like Cinderella.” NKD


I never thought I would see Russia, Japan, Australia and Singapore ever, let alone see them in the same year, but I did. Touring took me to places I never dreamed of seeing and led me to make some of the best friends any human could ask for. I went out on my first tour in 2006. I remember my first show. I was working for Brighten with The Maine as direct support. Brighten paid me $50 per week to hold a video camera and make tour updates for an entire summer. Following a few shows with The Maine, we spent the rest of the summer opening for Hawthorne Heights. I was hooked — touring was so fun and intriguing to me. I knew I would find a way to do more. I was in college at the time, and I was at a crossroads. I knew I wanted to finish school, but college on the road didn’t seem like the most fun way to tour. Fast forward a few years, and I managed to tour while in school during summer and holiday breaks, and I took a semester off in 2009 to do the AP Tour with A Rocket to The Moon. After graduation I packed up all my stuff in storage and made the decision to tour as much as possible with just about any band that offered. I spent most of my touring years with ARTTM and later All Time Low, and I also managed to take jobs in between tours with a handful of bands I met along the way. I started touring doing video work, did merch here and there and ended up being a tour manager and assistant tour manager in my last years on the road. Thinking about the “real world,” as we called it, while on the road was tough. It was comforting to be around friends, and never being home became familiar. Talking about not touring and actually looking for work outside of it were two very different things. Resumes and interviews didn’t seem like the most fun things in the world. But I did it. With some help I turned my touring career into a nice resume and started sending emails. I emailed managers, labels and a handful of people I had met along the way, and told them I was thinking about not touring anymore. I asked them to let me know if they heard of any job openings. Mark Capicotto, owner of Glamour Kills, responded a few days later to let me know they had a music marketing position open, and he wanted to do a phone interview. Less than a month later I flew across the country with three suitcases and was in Brooklyn looking for a place to live. I never really thought someone I met from tour would help me get a job after leaving the road. I’ve always been a hard worker, and I’ve always done everything with a smile, whether it was driving all night in the van so the band could sleep, dragging suitcases across massive festival grounds or finding a place to do laundry in Denmark. The hard work paid off. Finding references and people to help me was easier than I expected. This led me to believe two of the most cliché statements on the planet: “hard work pays off ” and “it’s all about who you know.” They are both true. Going above and beyond what is expected of you at any job is the fastest way to get people to keep you around. Was I the best tour manager on the planet? Hell no! I worked with tour managers I knew were better at their job than I was, but I learned from them and always tried to get better. Meeting people from the music industry ultimately helped me find work away from tour. The hard work gave me a reputation and the networking gave me outlets to look for other work. If there is any advice I can give to anyone who wants to tour, or is currently touring, it’s this: work your ass off. Go above and beyond what is expected of you and take time to talk to people you meet along the way. You never know who is watching you work and how far that may take you. Everything you learn and everyone you meet will help you prepare for the next chapter in your life. Never forget that every situation and experience happens for a reason, and everyday is a chance to learn more.


THE PLAYLIST Will Hoge takes us through his current top tracks.
























British alternative rock band You Me At Six have already achieved more than they ever imagined in the United Kingdom. Since the band formed in 2004 when the guys were 14 and 15 years old, they have released three certified gold albums with numerous singles in the Top 100 on the official U.K. Singles Chart, and have been crowned Best British Band at the 2011 Kerrang! Awards. Now in their early 20s and working on a fourth album, You Me At Six are determined to spread their success in the U.K. to the rest of the world. “We would like to have more international success,” says lead guitarist Chris Miller. “We’ve been playing catch-up with the U.K. for a while so I’d like to see everything just progress steadily.” The band has certainly been paying their dues to bring their music to across the pond. Chris, 23, says they did their first tour in the U.S. when he was 18 years old, and they have slowly progressed up the ladder from opening band to supporting to headlining their own U.S. tour this past September and October. Chris is proud that the band has been gaining attention in what he calls an “organic way.” Instead of relying on gimmicks or marketing ploys to force people to pay attention to them, the guys have put in the time and effort to gain fans from their performances and original songwriting. “Over the last four or five years, we’ve been putting in a lot of hard work over here [in the U.S.], trying to come here as much as we can and do as many shows as possible,” Chris says. “You can tell now it’s really starting to pay off. People are finally noticing us and knowing who we are and coming to the shows. It’s really exciting.” In addition to touring, You Me At Six spent time in the U.S. over the summer recording their upcoming fourth album, Cavalier Youth. For this album, they began working with producer Neal Avron (Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park, Say Anything) at his home studio in Los Angeles. “It was a really cool family vibe,” Chris says. “We were always there hanging out with him and his family and his dogs. It was a really fun, kind of humble, nice experience.” You Me At Six also recorded their previous album, Sinners Never Sleep (2011), in L.A., but Chris says they wanted to record the new album in the U.K., which would have allowed them to go home on the weekends as opposed to being away for several months. However, working with producers like 126

Avron meant the trip to L.A. was necessary. “Obviously [L.A. producers] know all the best places to record and where they like to record so to get there we had to go to L.A.,” he says. “But it was a great, great experience and I don’t regret anything at all.” Chris says the experiences recording Sinners Never Sleep and Cavalier Youth were very different despite recording both in L.A. He says the band was not enjoying their experience recording Sinners Never Sleep with a different producer. “You can even tell from the art work, it’s a bit darker and a bit more moody,” Chris says. “There’s a few heavy songs like screaming on it. It really shows the place we were at, whereas with the new CD, it’s the total opposite.” Although there are a few heavier songs on the new album, Chris says the overall feeling reflects the sunny vibe of California. “[The record] feels really ambitious and I think that reflects Hollywood, that everyone’s trying to be something or do something,” he says. “That really affected the sound of the album.” You Me At Six did a few things differently on the new album — Chris says they tried to keep instrumentals simpler. “In the past we’ve always layered as many guitars as we could to make it sound as big as possible and in your face whereas in this, less is more. We went for a more natural, real kind of sound,” he says. Chris says the band did “proper” pre-production on this album, which they had never fully done before. He says they wrote the music, and before they went into the studio to record, they sat down with the producers and played each song repeatedly. They all discussed what could be done to make the song better. The band found that the process really fine tunes songs. Chris says they will likely do it again in the future, stressing that it is still their original work, just with an outsider’s opinion to consider that puts a new perspective on how to make a song better. “We’ve always prided ourselves on writing absolutely everything,” Chris says. “Everything you hear on the CD is all thought out, written and played by us. We always want to keep that very strong because I don’t really believe in being a band if someone else is going to write our songs.” Although the band has experienced pressure from labels to use co-writers or songs written by people outside the band a few times, You Me At Six have agreed they will not do




anything outside their original material. “We’re going to make all the decisions,” Chris says. “We’re not going to be told, ‘You have to do this,’ or, ‘You have to release this song over this song.’ We’ve always made it clear that we’re going to lead it.” Chris thinks their songwriting has played a large part in the international recognition they have been working toward. “I truly believe that no matter what band you’re in or what your band looks like or who likes your band in the first place, I’m a firm believer that if it’s a good song, then it will be successful,” he says. “Obviously there’s all the mechanics that are around that, but I think we just believe in writing good songs, honest songs, and hoping that other people pick up on them like they have in previous albums.” The band has not forgotten about home during their time away. Chris calls their headlining show at Wembley Arena in London in December of 2012 the highlight in their career as a band, even though he says the band didn’t make a penny off the event. “We wanted to make it like an event, loads of production like pyro,” he says. “We put [the money] all back into the show to make it as crazy as possible for everyone that was coming. We made it into a DVD so it’s something we’ll have forever and show our kids, grandkids.” They have also kept fans from all over the world up to date on what they are doing by posting videos almost weekly during their U.S. tour featuring their shows, traveling and what they are doing behind the scenes. “We’re documenting every single thing we do for the kids in the U.K. or maybe if you’re in New York, but you can’t make it to the show, you know in a few days, there will be a 10 to 15 minute video about what we’ve been up to at all the last shows,” Chris says. “I think it’s nice for fans to see behind the scenes as well and it shows we’re just real people. We’re not rock stars or anything. We’re just having a good time.” While they have not released much information about , which will be released early next year yet, Chris says he’s very proud of it as a whole and he thinks there is something on it for everyone. “The record is a big step forward for us,” he says. “It’s not too different from what we’ve done in the past, but there’s a notable change. It’s nothing scary, but it’s kind of a nice progression in our sound.” You Me At Six are definitely finding their place in the international music scene. They hope this album will help launch them in a similar fashion to the many bands that have made the jump from the U.K. to the rest of the world. Chris thinks You Me At Six are perfect to fill a void he perceives in the music scene in the U.S. “Rock has slowed down a little bit,” he says. “I do feel there’s a kind of gap in America for big, anthemic rock band from the U.K.” NKD









It’s been nearly two years since pop-punk band We Are The In Crowd released their first album. Lead singer Tay Jardine knows that a lot can change in two years. When asked what’s been going on lately, Tay says, “Nothing…everything,” with a slight laugh. It’s evident from her answer that a lot’s been going on. After wrapping two whirlwind years of touring, including nine months overseas, We Are The In Crowd went straight to the studio. The band, originally from Poughkeepsie, N.Y, said that after having spent the last two years developing relationships with their fans, they want to continue with the solid foundation they’ve built and show fans new music, while striving to maintain their personal relationships and stay true to their roots. The band just wrapped up recording a full-length album in early September, which Tay says only took 22 days to record. “We had a lot of stuff to write about,” Tay says. “We’re all two years older, so there’s obviously a lot of growth there. I think that what I want and what I hope for this record to do is just be that developing record, to be the actual foundation of who we are.” When it comes to songwriting, Tay says that all five members of the band typically gather together at a table to write. “We just sit in a room together and try to work it out,” Tay says. For the band, writing on the road is a daunting task, and one that doesn’t usually work out as well as they’d like. “Writing on the road for us is just like screaming into our phones and showing each other. Nothing good gets done on the road. It’s hard for us,” Tay says. On this upcoming record, We Are The In Crowd worked with producer John Feldman (Goldfinger, The Used, Panic! at the Disco, Papa Roach). “It was a huge surprise for us,” Tay says. “He helped us a lot, just kind of internally. He just let me let loose. He really pushed our limits. We wanted to push, we wanted somebody to kind of force us into being ourselves.” This will be the first record the band has released in

which they wrote all of the tracks without co-writers. On what inspired their songs, Tay says, “There’s a few family topics in there. There’s two songs, one is about my dad and one is about my sister. [Feldman] really let me open up and he kind of got inspired [by my story], he could relate to it…. Relationships, obviously is the go-to. Breakups and non-breakups. Just everything.” Tay goes on to say that there are songs on the album about the band’s relationship. “We’ve gone through a lot in the last two years, all of us, as a group,” she says. “There’s a lot of songs about us just as a band and what we do and who we are.” Not only has the band grown together, but so has the support they’ve received from their families has grown as well. The band members all had a common challenge in convincing their parents that this was a serious dream. Tay says that while at first, their parents weren’t as accepting of their career choice, they’ve changed their minds after seeing the success the band has experienced so far. “It took our parents until the first Warped Tour, where they say like, ‘Oh my God, they have a bus and they’re on stage and people are coming to a show and this is a big tour and people are actually coming to the tour,’” Tay says. “Our parents are all so supportive now, whereas in the beginning, it’s a hard pill for a parent to swallow. They think their kids are going on the road and thinking their kids are rebellious.” Not only has the band grown together — the support they receive from their families has grown as well. After releasing their upcoming album in early 2014, they plan to dive right back into touring. Tay knows the importance of touring and remaining relevant. “If you’re not present, you’re invisible, especially these days,” she says. The band plans on touring at venues that are big enough for a crowd, but small enough to remain intimate. For now, Tay is just enjoying the ride and focusing on getting their next album out. “I’m just really excited for the future,” she says. NKD NKDMAG.COM







On Oct. 15, Breathe Caroline vocalist David Schmitt informed fans that founding vocalist Kyle Even would leave the band on good terms to focus on his new parental responsibilities. Just two months later, Breathe Carolina’s touring members, drummer Eric Armenta and keyboardist and programmer Luis Bonet joined the band officially, after guitarist Tommy Cooperman filled out the band. Breathe Carolina’s new task is transitioning into its new lineup and presenting their new sound. Back in June 2011, Breathe Carolina released their hit single “Blackout.” It received significant radio play and earned them the attention of Columbia Records, which signed them that December. However, the marriage between the two did not last long. “It sucked,” David says. “It was just too much. I don’t know if it was a clash of ideas but they just didn’t fully understand Breathe Carolina. ‘Blackout’ wasn’t meant to be on the radio. We weren’t trying to do that. It just happened. After that [Columbia Records] was like, ‘We need more. We need more radio songs.’ For us, trying to make a radio song is just not how we work and how we write.” In early 2012, Breathe Carolina returned to their original label, Fearless Records. “We’re much happier now,” David adds. After their time on Columbia Records, they felt they regained the freedom to comfortably make music. The breathing room that Fearless Records gave Breathe Carolina has resulted in their upcoming album, Savages, which is scheduled for release in early 2014. Of the record, David says, “‘[Savages]’ will have some more organic-type songs but for the majority of the record, it’s going to be super dance-y and fun.” As Tommy puts it, “It’s just the next evolution in Breathe Carolina.” This, according to Eric, means, “More mature…not anything different really. It’s more structured.” Breathe Carolina have experimented with electronic dance music, but now they’re diving into it. Fans may have anticipated Breathe Carolina’s growing interest in EDM when they began DJing in their new hometown of Los Angeles, after relocating from Denver. “It’s literally us behind a DJ booth DJing like any other DJ would. For that stuff, our number one mission is to have fun,” Tommy says.

While Breathe Carolina continue to evolve, the band has retained one of its consistent driving forces: producer Ian Kirkpatrick. The band had worked with countless successful producers who they felt did not understand Breathe Carolina’s vision. “There’s no point in us wasting our time,” David says. “I’d rather go home and sit on the couch, it’s the same thing.” When the band met Ian, they felt an instant connection with him. Breathe Carolina could tell he genuinely cared about their music. He had taken the time to listen to their early recordings and had researched their fan base. They eagerly seized the opportunity to work with each other. Ian has produced their past two albums, Hell is What You Make It and Savages. “Ian will never let us walk away with it being just ‘good,’” David says. Breathe Carolina do not fit neatly into any one music scene or genre. “I think people latch on to Breathe Carolina because it’s different,” David says. The band’s EDM influences mesh with their hardcore origins, creating a unique blend of pop hooks and screaming on their part, and dancing and moshing in the crowd. This uniqueness is an advantage — it allows Breathe Carolina to play diverse tours and cater to fans of different genres. For example, they can go from DJing at L.A. clubs, to a fall tour with post-hardcore outfit Sleeping With Sirens, just after finishing a summer tour opening for pop-rock hit-makers, We The Kings. Breathe Carolina do feel, however, that they get better reactions when they tour with heavier bands than when they tour with pop bands. “Just because our shit isn’t metal, it’s still heavy,” David says. Their talent for dropping perfectly-timed hard dance beats keeps the crowd’s energy just as high as the heavy metal breakdowns performed by the headlining acts. After wrapping up their fall tour with Sleeping with Sirens, Breathe Carolina can finish Savages. The band has been through a transition in their lineup and sound, which they see as their next step. They have grown as people and musicians. It has led them to become a four-piece band that is about to drop a hardcore-EDM album — a long way from where they started. NKD NKDMAG.COM




On the lower level of the Best Buy Theater in New York City, the members of pop-punk band, Cartel — Will Pugh (vocals), Joseph Pepper (lead guitarist), Kevin Sanders (drums) and Nic Hudson (bass) — are sharing a laugh in their dressing room, settling their spirits before their set in an hour.

Tonight is their sixth show on The Glamour Kills Tour. Cartel, who are playing alongside Mayday Parade, Man Overboard and Stages and Stereos, are the oldest band on the line-up — they’ve been together for roughly a decade. When I ask how they’re doing this afternoon, Kevin sarcastically responds with “shut up,” before grinning across the room. Cartel formed in Conyers, Ga. in 2003, and have since released two EP’s and four full-lengths. Ten years later, the Georgia-based band are not at all jaded by the music industry. In fact, they’ve finally perfected their style. Prior to this tour, Cartel were touring the U.K. with British rock band Kids in Glass Houses. They arrived back in the U.S. the day before The Glamour Kills Tour started. Before that, they were on a three-week tour in Australia and Japan. Cartel have been on the road since August, promoting their fourth full-length album, Collider, (2013) which was released earlier this year. The record was produced on a very low 26

budget, so it took more time to create than their past records. This album, however, was produced by Cartel and Cartel alone. By the time they came around to their senior release, they knew what they wanted to achieve, especially through the technicalities of the recording process. They didn’t need someone to direct them when they knew what direction they wanted to work toward. “We’ve always been so involved with our music,” Will says. “No one needed to tell us how our band should sound.” Ten years is a long time. In that decade, Cartel have had the opportunity to recreate their past music, but they’re trying to avoid that path altogether. The band has indeed found direct rip-offs in their new material from their old material, but they’ve never intentionally tried to do the same thing twice. Will says he’s inspired by the downfalls of music. “Other shit in the music world sucks and you’ve gotta do something about it,” he says. He is currently in love with The

1975. Though the musical style of the English indie-rock group is unlike that of Cartel’s, Will loves discovering new tones and sounds to experiment with. Listening to different genres reminds the band to break rules and take artistic chances. “I like to push the boundaries with Cartel because we’re not going to write songs off Chroma (2005) again,” Will says. “I think we’ll just continue to evolve down that line.” All of Cartel’s music begins as an abstract idea. It then develops into a demo with a general concept of structure, melody and vocals. Lastly, the band discusses the potential of a new track, and “what sucks” about it. Their releases have each had a different flavor, all while still sounding like Cartel. How? Cartel have an understanding of the musical elements that make their material stand apart from other bands. They know what they can do, and what sounds like them. “There are certain characteristics of our sound that each of us do and contribute to,” Will says. “There isn’t really a playbook for it. We just know.” There was a time when Cartel hit radio play. Their single “Honestly” off Chroma became a hit once it aired on New York radio station Z100, then featured in the film John Tucker Must Die in 2006. “Radio? What’s that?” Joseph asks, jokingly. “I think that’s the thing Miley Cyrus yells at you from.” To the band, radio is dead — for their genre, anyway. Radio doesn’t necessarily appeal to Cartel — it’s not synonymous with their definition of music. “The radio doesn’t care about anybody doing anything real,” Will says. “It’s a backdoor process that

gets in and gets out, and that’s what people end up liking.” In the ‘80s and ‘90s, bands ruled the world. Today, anyone with a computer and the proper programs can be a musician. “Our little nugget of a genre is off to the side but our music means something,” Joseph says. “It’s worth playing a large venue one night, then a small venue the next year.” In the past 10 years, Cartel have played large venues, small venues, holes-in-the-wall and toured with their favorite band, New Found Glory. They’re not selective about what’s to come, especially in terms of major success. “We really don’t care,” Will says. “If it happens, that’ll be cool enough for us.” Cartel pride themselves on putting on a phenomenal live performance. They all agree that a lot of people like bad music, but an on-stage set is what truly captures an audience. “I think we really have talent,” Joseph says, smiling. “Somewhat.” Cartel don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. They don’t plan on impressing people, either. They have the ability to record what works best for them without worrying about pressure or running on someone else’s schedule. Cartel do what they want, then see what happens. Their formula has been working for a decade. “We’ve always done what we’ve wanted,” Kevin says. “If you wanna see us play, fuck yeah. If you don’t, fuck you.” The entire room erupts in laughter. What’s next for the band? They fall into an awkward silence when I ask. Then, out of no where, Joseph says, “Cartel goes dubstep.” NKD NKDMAG.COM




Words & Photos by CATHERINE POWELL


All Time Low have toured around the world twice — this year. The band has barely had a minute at home since they released their fourth studio album, Don’t Panic, (2012) last October, but they’re used to that. In fact, they have barely had a minute at home since they graduated high school in 2006 and jumped on tour after inking a deal with Hopeless Records, and that was after they had already been a band for three years. The non-stop mentality has worked for them so far, especially for promoting Don’t Panic. I meet with frontman Alex Gaskarth and guitarist Jack Barakat in Trenton, N.J. before their sold out show with A Day To Remember. The two appear relaxed, possibly because there are only about two weeks left of touring for them in 2013. But as visibly exhausted as they are, they’re cheerful as they discuss their accomplishments this past year. “Don’t Panic really re-engaged our core followers,” Alex says, adding that the response to the record was the best it’s been in a long time. The buzz around the record was so positive the band decided to re-release the album under the name Don’t Panic: It’s Longer Now this fall. “This record really seems to have legs. People don’t seem to be bored with it,” Alex says. Despite Don’t Panic being out for over a year now, some fans still have no idea All Time Low released anything in the past few years. “I think we lost some people along the way,” Alex says. “Trends change and not everyone sticks around.” 32

They’re on Twitter and Instagram as much as any other band, but what keeps kids interested in All Time Low is the fact that they are always on tour. “A lot of bands take a break for a little while and come back, but we just never have,” Alex says. It’s not like they’ve ever wanted to slow down, either. The long drives and longer flights feel natural to the members of All Time Low at this point. “There’s nothing left for us at home anyway,” Jack says. Alex laughs, but Jack is serious. Their friends from high school are either working all the time, still in school or have moved away completely. “After 10 years, this is just who we are,” Alex says. “If we spend too much time at home we just get tired of the complacency.” Naturally, the constant travel has put a strain on various relationships, and it’s only now that they feel like they’re figuring out how to keep the important relationships intact while they’re gone. “We’ve also been growing up as we’ve been doing this, so we’re better at balancing the two now than when we were immature kids,” Alex says. Relationships aren’t the only thing they look at differently: they view their career much more realistically than when they started. “When you’re 17 and in a band, you’re never really looking farther than next week,” Alex says. “We’re just as guilty of that as anyone else.” Now that they’re 25, they’re thinking, ‘How do we do this until we’re 30 or 35.’ “It’s been a constant, slow and steady climb,” Alex says.

With their last three records debuting in the Top 10, it would be natural to assume All Time Low has had at least one single make its way to Top 40 radio, but that factor has been notably absent in the band’s career. “We chased it once,” Alex says, only to be interrupted by Jack’s laughing. Alex joins in before finishing, “How’d it go, you ask? It didn’t. We chased it too hard.” At the time, the band was signed to Interscope Records and didn’t see eye-to-eye with the people who were supposed to help them. Dirty Work (2011) is the band’s poppiest record to date, and with the support of a major label, they saw it as their opportunity to branch out into the world of mainstream music. “It was wrong place, wrong time, wrong family,” Alex says of their time on Interscope, which was short lived. Dirty Work was the only record they released with the label before parting ways in the spring of 2012. When it came time to write Don’t Panic their mentality toward radio was as opposite as could be. “We thought, ‘Fuck it, we don’t need it. We’ve never needed it,’” Alex says. “And it worked,” Jack adds. They decided All Time Low had done just fine without the help of a radio station, and they were comfortable with the slow build up of their band over time. “We may never have had that pivotal single that took us over the top, but at the same time we can sell out venues around the world,” Alex says. Dirty Work was projected to be that record that took All

Time Low to the next level, and though it did chart well, (debuting at No. 6) it is the least popular among fans. “I don’t feel like it was a step backwards, but I feel like it was a step sideways,” Jack says. They feel like prior to Dirty Work they were at a point in their career where if they took the right steps, they could become massive, but they made the wrong choices. With Don’t Panic, they feel like they’re moving forward again, especially with their new single “A Love Like War,” which features guest vocals from Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil. “A Love Like War” is All Time Low’s fastest growing single, based on its online reception. The music video for the song reached over 2 million views in just two weeks, which has never happened to All Time Low before. “People will argue that ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’ or ‘Weightless’ are our biggest singles, but they took much longer to get that big,” Alex says. “It’s cool that we can have those authentic reactions without the help of radio or something like that.” It’s perfect timing for a rock song like “A Love Like War” to be making an impact. With bands like Fall Out Boy and Imagine Dragons dominating radio and selling out arenas, there’s more of a place for All Time Low in that world than ever before. “I think we’re in a weird, awkward transitional period where there’s still a lot of bands who are trying not to sound like bands on the radio,” Alex says. “But the rock band trend is coming back. Bands like Fall Out Boy are opening NKDMAG.COM


the door for bands like us to achieve that level of success.” All Time Low have seen plenty of trends come and go over the past 10 years. As much as those trends can affect how listeners perceive a band’s sound, they haven’t necessarily influenced All Time Low to change their sound. “We’ve always played pop-punk music, but I’ve never exclusively listened to only pop-punk music,” Alex says. All Time Low’s sound has changed over time because the members were bringing in various influences based on their own listening habits, but they’ve never tried to make a specific sound. “We’ve grown, but we haven’t grown too fast,” Alex says. They feel like their fan base has grown with them because they’ve never made too quick a jump from one sound to the next. All Time Low are four full-length records deep into their career but they don’t feel like they’ve found “a sound,” simply because they don’t want just one. “It’s foolish not to push yourself each record, and I feel like there were times we didn’t push ourselves enough,” Alex says. It would be easy for the band to make the same record twice, especially when their first (So Wrong, It’s Right [2007]) was so well received, but they try to challenge themselves every time they’re in the studio. This past year, All Time Low have also challenged themselves with their touring. After touring with the same bands multiple times, the band stepped outside their comfort zone 34

a little bit and went on the road with someone new: Pierce The Veil. Both bands have roughly the same size fan base, and definitely a good number of crossover fans, but when they co-headlined the Spring Fever Tour this past spring they were both playing to a new audience. The two bands joined A Day To Remember this fall and played for some of the biggest crowds they’ve ever played to in America. “Now kids go online and they’re like, ‘All Time Low only plays with heavy bands now,’ but it’s only been two tours and we’re just trying something new,” Alex says. Though the three bands don’t necessarily sound the same, the music world is different than it was five years ago and genre doesn’t matter anymore. “Kids have a bigger capacity for music now, no one just listens to one thing anymore,” Alex says. All Time Low are taking advantage of the recent disinterest in genres, especially because for a while they felt like they were going to get stuck in the pop-punk scene that they had unintentionally become the poster boys for. “We’ve never wanted to be just the pop-punk band, because at the end of the day there’s more to it than that,” Alex says. With their record cycle winding down, All Time Low are planning a U.S. headlining tour with some bands they haven’t played with before, as well as some overseas dates before closing the book on Don’t Panic and starting work on LP number five. “We’ll probably go away for a little while and strictly just work on

new songs, but we won’t be gone for too long. We never have been,” Alex says. What makes All Time Low eager and excited to keep working is the fact that it’s been Alex, Jack, drummer Rian Dawson and bassist Zack Merrick since the band formed 10 years ago. They were four kids with the same goals, and the only thing that’s changed is now they’re four adults with the same goals. “Six years ago if someone quit, we would have broken up. And if someone quit tomorrow, we would break up,” Alex says. The four grew up together, some even before the band got together, and at this point it’s their thing, not just one person’s thing. “It feels like a good family, not brothers butting heads all the time,” Alex says. And in addition to the four guys on stage, there’s almost been a fifth member of All Time Low: Hopeless Records. Minus their year on Interscope, Hopeless has been with All Time Low since Valentine’s Day in 2006, when the band signed their first recording contract with them. The two groups have grown together over the years, with Hopeless helping All Time Low become the band they are today, and All Time Low’s success bringing Hopeless to the next level as a label. When the band resigned to Hopeless after their stint on Interscope, they describe the reconnection as “painless.” With Hopeless, they get the attention they wanted and deserved from Interscope without having to fight for it. While they can’t predict

the future, for now they feel comfortable staying with Hopeless for the long run. Earlier on in their career, staying on an indie label for a long time could have meant hitting a ceiling, which is why they made the transition to Interscope. “We were foolish to think that we needed it then, but now we know we absolutely don’t need it,” Alex says. While their next record will be released on Hopeless, that won’t be for a while. Also a while away is a second DVD to follow up their successful 2010 release, Straight To DVD. The documentary, which focused on the back story and behindthe-scenes life of All Time Low, gave fans a window into the world of their favorite band. There have always been plans to make a second one, but they don’t want to make the same one twice. “We could easily throw together a bunch of footage of us running around naked…” Alex starts. “And no one would complain!” Jack interrupts. Alex laughs and adds, “Right, but we’re trying to figure out what story we want to tell this time around and we’re not there yet.” I ask about the future, and Alex leans back in his chair and thinks. “I think we’re going to write the best record we ever have, we’re going to get all the radio success we’ve ever wanted, take over the world, and then break up,” he says. He and Jack take the joke as far as it can go before Alex looks me in the eye and says, “That last part’s not serious, we have no plans to break up in the next five years. We’re having too much fun.” NKD NKDMAG.COM


AUSTIN MAHONE Nov. 10, The Intrepid (New York, N.Y.)

THE LUMINEERS Nov. 11, Roseland Ballroom (New York, N.Y.)

FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE Nov. 16, Best Buy Theater (New York, N.Y.)


AnnaSophia Robb.


fter 16 years as a band, things have come full circle for New Found Glory. But they’re not quite finished yet. I meet with four of the five band members in their dressing room at Terminal 5 in New York a few hours before their co-headlining show with Alkaline Trio. Guitarist Chad Gilbert got a surprise visit from his girlfriend, Hayley Williams of Paramore, earlier today, and he’s currently enjoying some quality time with her. The other guys don’t seem to mind. Most of them are married or in relationships themselves, and they understand how hard it is to find time for their significant others. Things have changed since they wrote the lyrics “I’d still pick my friends over you” (“My Friends Over You”) in 2002. The five best friends who piled into a van in 2000 have much more going on than they did when they were fresh out of high school. But as the group recalls old stories — finishing each other’s sentences as they do — it’s clear that not everything has changed. They’re still a bunch of punk dudes who just really love playing live music. The group — singer Jordan Pundik, drummer Cyrus Bolooki, bassist Ian 44

Grushka, guitarist Steve Klein and Chad — got together simply by knowing all the same people in their home state of Florida. “I met Jordan while he was sitting alone at lunch in high school,” Steve says. The two quickly realized they lived down the street from each other and eventually began playing music together. The two friends started going to local shows and went to watch Chad’s band play multiple times. Ian spent his afternoons watching his friend’s band practice in their garage, and met Jordan and Steve through them. Cyrus came into the picture after being in a band with one of Steve’s friends, whose practices he would often watch. Cyrus had heard a New Found Glory cassette tape and went to see them play a few times before eventually joining the band himself when their original drummer didn’t work out. And so the current line-up of New Found Glory was born. “Did you get all that?” Jordan jokes. Their local scene played a huge part in the early success of New Found Glory. Local bands had opportunities to perform every weekend at various venues and bars, and New Found Glory would take any show they could get — they just wanted to play. “Every kind of

genre would play together,” Jordan says. Whether they were playing every show or not, the guys always ended up at the small clubs to watch bands play instead of going to house parties around their hometown. After they’d been playing shows frequently for a few years, they got a call from Drive Thru Records, a small record label from California that didn’t have much credit to its name yet. The owners, Stephanie and Richard Reines, had heard about New Found Glory from a compilation CD they were a part of and were interested in the group. They flew out to see the band perform at a pool party in Florida. Though the guys recall the event as a “crappy show,” Drive Thru offered them a deal on the spot. At the time, the label had a distribution deal with MCA/Universal and offered to buy New Found Glory a van. “It was the first real opportunity that came to us that proved people were interested in our band,” Ian says. They had previously sent their demos out to various record labels but the response was always the same: no one knew what to do with the pop-punk band that played hardcore shows. Social media was non-existent in New Found Glory’s early days, so the



only way to measure how successful they were was by how many people came to their shows. “Kids would come and they’d like us, so they’d show our record to their friends and then more people would come the next week. That’s what really built our initial fan base,” Cyrus says. Though New Found Glory were doing just fine without the help of the Internet and social media, the change in technology over time has made things a little easier for the band. In the early days of touring, they were navigating through foreign states with an atlas, so they’re definitely grateful for the increased reliability that comes with GPS devices. When it comes to social media, the band stays as up-to-date as possible because they recognize the necessity of it now. “Before it was like a mystery being in a band,” Steve says. “You didn’t know everything about [bands]. Now fans expect to have that access and information.” As much as the Internet makes touring and promoting a lot easier, it makes selling records harder. “When you put out an album now it’s basically free because of the Internet,” Steve says. They’re not the only band to suffer the effect of illegal downloading financially, but New Found Glory are still making a living from live shows and selling merchandise, which Steve says has always been a strong point for the band. Live shows have always been New Found Glory’s first priority. Much of that mindset is due to the huge number of shows the guys saw when they were teenagers. They all agree that the fans they had before MySpace and Twitter are true, diehard New Found Glory fans. “Nowadays, a band can have a million Twitter followers but it’s just a number,” Cyrus says. “It doesn’t really mean anything. They may have never even played a show.” New Found Glory are still bringing first-timers out to their shows, but a large percentage of their crowds are fans who have seen them close to 100 times. “There’s a girl in the front of the line right now who has probably six million pictures of us together, but she comes to every New York show and takes a picture every time,” Jordan says. 48



The guys say fans like that, and their live show, have contributed to their longevity. But it’s also the consistency in their records. They make an effort never to make the same record twice, but they feel like their sound and lyrical content have grown steadily over the years. “We’re regular people writing about regular things that go on in regular lives,” Cyrus says. “People can relate to us really easily,” Jordan adds. Though the band has seen different trends come and go when it comes to music, they don’t see the point in adapting to fit in. “You stick Jordan on top of our music and it’s going to sound like New Found Glory,” Cyrus says. “And I think fans appreciate the fact that we’re not trying to write a certain type of song because that’s what popular at the moment.” They know they’re fortunate to be in a position where they can play the type of music they want to play without anyone pressuring them to change. Their label and management team just let New Found Glory “do whatever [they] want” when it comes to any major decisions, according to Jordan. Even in the early days with Drive Thru they were able to keep full creative control over their music. “We’ve been on autopilot for 16 years,” Jordan jokes. The band’s DIY mentality and work ethic have carried over into the new generation of pop-punk bands. And as they’ve grown older, New Found Glory have become more than just another band — they’ve become musical influences for emerging artists. Bands like All Time Low and The Story So Far got their band names from New Found Glory songs. “All the kids who are like 21 now and listened to our band when they were younger are citing us as influences for their new bands,” Steve says. But besides the music and the hard work, a key reason New Found Glory are idolized is because they’re grounded. “We’re fans much more than we are band members,” Steve says. “When we toured with Green Day, I was so excited to tell Billie Joe that his song was one of the first I learned on the guitar.” They know what it’s like to be on the other side of the barricade, and they don’t take the

fact that they’re still relevant so deep into their career for granted. They constantly try to change up their live show or release exclusive new merchandise to give back to the fans who keep coming back. Most recently, they released a live album entitled Kill It Live (2013), which included three new songs in addition to a full live set from the band recorded at the Chain Reaction in Anaheim, Calif. “We really wanted to capture our live sound in a recording,” Jordan says. They chose to do it in a tiny, 300-capacity room so listeners can hear the fans screaming along the words. “People have these songs already, but we wanted to capture the energy and the banter,” Steve says. There was definitely the option to record Kill It Live at a large venue with an extravagant sound system, but the band wasn’t interested in that. “It was small enough that we knew all the people there were going to be diehard fans,” Ian says. They knew that group of 300 people would go crazy and know every word, which is exactly what they wanted to capture. They played two nights in a row just in case they “fucked up too badly,” but the recordings are as raw as they can get. With the exception of the three new songs on Kill It Live, New Found Glory haven’t released new music since Radiosurgery in 2011. “Has it really been two years? Damn. Time flies,” Jordan says. They haven’t been actively writing for a new record, but they will definitely enter the studio at some point in 2014. When it comes to writing music, not much has changed since they were teenagers. “We’ve grown up a lot for sure, but I think we’re still the same kids,” Steve says. “Mostly responsibilities within our personal lives have changed, with getting married, having kids and getting divorced… It definitely has an impact on the band.” When rumors about New Found Glory going on hiatus hit the Internet last spring, it didn’t seem all that farfetched that the band might take a break to focus on their families. Though the rumors were quickly dismissed, the band admits that slowing down is not out of the question in the future.

“Slowing down for us will be touring six or seven months out of the year instead of 10,” Steve jokes. They all make an effort to go home more often than when they were younger, but in the end they just really love touring and don’t want to stop. “Life happens while we’re out on the road, but I think those experiences show in our music,” Steve says. He feels that each record captures a specific point in time for the band. “I think that’s why people can relate to us so well, because our personal lives really fuel our music,” Jordan adds. Because New Found Glory has been the same five guys pretty much since they started, they can each find an escape from their private lives in the band. “It keeps the bond strong for us to all be in this together, and all find a release in this band,” Cyrus says. At this point, if one member of the band had to walk away for whatever reason, New Found Glory would come to an end. “When you put the five of us in a room together, a song will always shape into New Found Glory’s sound,” Cyrus says. There’s a bond between the five of them, and they’ve developed a strong formula for creating a New Found Glory song — swapping someone in would disrupt the balance. Even in the rare instances where a member had to sit out a tour or two with full intentions of coming back, the dynamic on stage was not the same. “If one of the five of us isn’t on the stage it just feels like something is missing,” Ian says. At this point, New Found Glory have pretty much seen the world. But even in places like New York City, where they’ve performed countless times over the years, they’re still playing new venues — like tonight’s show at Terminal 5. With so many accomplishments under their belts, I ask what’s left on their bucket list. Ian says he wants a platinum record, and Jordan laughs and says, “Good luck with that one, buddy!” On a serious note, they just want to keep the band going for as long as possible and ride the wave wherever it takes them. “Sixteen years into this we can still get over 1,000 people to come see us on whatever night in whatever city,” Cyrus says. “I think that means something.” NKD NKDMAG.COM






1. Florida Georgia Line bundle up for the cold New York City morning. 2. Ariana Grande rides with fellow Nickelodeon stars, Dora the Explorer and her companion, Boots. 3. Fall Out Boy’s Andy Hurley bangs his drums to stay warm throughout the 30-block parade. 52

All photos taken by Catherine Powell on Nov. 28, 2013 in New York City 5


2. Macy’s iHeart Radio Rising Star winners The Summer Set have their “legendary 3. Debby Ryan gets silly as she makes her way down 6th Avenue.





Toy Soldiers have come a long way since their formative days in 2007. What began as duo and eventually grew into a group of 12 finally established itself as a five-piece band in 2010. The Philadelphia posse, composed of Ron Gallo, Dominic Billett, Matt Kelly, Luke Leidy and Bill McCloskey, has managed to cement its line up since then. In fact, the five band different members’ personalities have helped them find and refine their original sound. Initially, the guys of Toy Soldiers started out playing in separate bands, but they came together to form Toy Soldiers at space camp in 2007. “During karaoke night, I saw everyone perform,” Ron says. “I was just kind of blown away by everybody’s performances, especially Luke’s rendition of ‘I Believe I Can Fly,’” he recalls. “After the night, we were drinking, got to talking and we were like, ‘Let’s start a boy band.’” Toy Soldiers played their first show ever at the 2010 CMJ Music Marathon. They played CMJ again in 2011 and 2012, and this year, they played a fourth time at Rockwood Music Hall on Sept. 11. 2013 has been a big year for Toy Soldiers — they also released their latest album The Maybe Boys in September. It was the band’s first time performing at CMJ as an official, registered artist. Official artists are given badges, which grant them access to all of the performances, showcases, panels, parties and other events for the festival’s full five days. “It’s kind of stress-free 54

having a badge and being able to go and see any show you want, meet up with people and not have to worry about, ‘Am I going to be able to see people? What happens when we get there?’” Dom says. For the first time in four years, the band was also able to relax and watch others perform. “We also just never spend this much time in New York,” Ron says. “It’s usually just, we drive, we take six hours to get here, we play a show and we drive back that night.” CMJ has played a central role in helping the band gain more exposure. “[CMJ] has sort of an epicenter effect of the music industry, similar to SXSW, where everyone flocks for the week,” Ron says. “There’s people from all over the country and maybe the world here, so when you play a show, there could be people from L.A. or Austin or Europe, and they’re seeing you, and if they like [the music], they can take that back to their homeland with them,” he says. Anyone who has bopped to the upbeat, retro tunes off The Maybe Boys’ will realize that Toy Soldiers’ music isn’t hard to like. Toy Soldier’s music stands out for its revival of the classic, 1960s Bob Dylan-reminiscent sound, which the band tried to capture as best they could while in the studio. “Up until that recording, we had put out some EPs, but we were really a live band,” Matt said. “Going into the studio, we didn’t really have much choice but to be this really, really energetic live band. We wanted it to be a really honest portrait of what we did because a lot of albums don’t really seem to do that.” While recording the latest album, the band turned to the sounds of old records for inspiration. “We pulled albums from the ’50s and ’60s that were recorded with one or two mics, and they kind of capture an energy that you don’t really hear on a modern day albums,” Matt says. The process of creating a track often begins as an individual effort, which is then refined by the entire band in the studio. Ron does most of his songwriting on his own, whenever the lyrics come to him. “Writing for me is kind of daily thing. It’s very much a natural, ‘be available for a song to come to you’ [process], as opposed to sitting down and trying to write a song,” he says. He then brings his writing to the band. “Everyone does his thing on it, and the next thing you know, that’s a song,” Ron says. Unlike the band’s previous EPs, The Maybe Boys also features a number of collaborative songs. Ron

had developed the lyrics and vocals to songs Bill had written the music for. Likewise, Dom had written a song on his own and then brought it to the band, just as Matt had created the riff for one song, which the band then worked on together. “There’s no limitation to the creative process within the band. It’s just kind of like, whatever works. It’s really just about keeping it natural,” Ron says. “I think that in songwriting, it’s pretty apparent when something is forced. Trying to do anything is immediately destined to fail.” Instead of trying to sound a certain way, the band works on developing their music while in the studio together. “The neat part about bands, as opposed to a songwriter who just hires a band to play behind them, is that you can work together in a unique, cohesive way,” Dom says. “You don’t have to force yourself to be one sort of style. You redevelop a sound, and then whatever song from anybody comes about, you just kind of roll with it. We try to roll with that as much as we can because we’re this unit.” By working together, the band is able to produce songs that sound unlike anything on today’s Top 40 charts. “So you know how certain bands have a sound, and they kind of have to stick with certain rules and boundaries sonically,” Ron says, citing Mumford and Sons as an example. “[Mumford and Sons] is not gonna go and put out a synthesizer album. They’re contained to a certain thing.” With his

own band, however, it’s different. “But with this band, it’s always just kind of been a vehicle for songs, and it is the individual personalities in the band that make that song.” Matt says that immersing oneself in their musical influences to make new music is one of the most honest things a musician can do. “I look at someone like Bo Diddley, he wrote hundreds of songs that came from rock and roll, Calypso and weird exotic music, and he never felt bounded by anything,” Matt says. “He absorbed the cultures of the music around him, and he just synthesized all that. I think that’s a really honest way to be a musician. I don’t see why you should do it any other way.” By letting the different personalities of Toy Soldiers reign, the band has created some diverse tracks, which makes it difficult to label the band as any one, fixed genre. “We’re not trying to be anything. We’re just like, ‘This is what we like now, so let’s do this,’ or, ‘This is happening now, so let’s do this,’” Ron says. Toy Soldiers are simply trying to introduce a new sense of liveliness to today’s music scene. “I feel like with our band and other friends’ bands, there’s this wave that’s building,” Ron says. “People want a little bit more ‘oomph’ in their music again, and I hope to accomplish that and respect the roots of American music and adapt it for the modern age so people have fun again, feel things, be live and energetic.” NKD NKDMAG.COM




The Los Angeles-based Sierota siblings — guitarist Jamie, bassist Noah, vocalist Sydney and drummer Graham — cannot recall the first concert they saw together. It’s not easy to remember, as the indie-rock siblings, known for their band Echosmith, grew up in an explosively musical environment. They decide it was either Switchfoot or Coldplay, two bands who they say still inspire them. They envisioned their career as musicians early on, but never expected this much success. “We didn’t know anything else,” Sydney says of their passion. “We didn’t know what else we’d do.” Echosmith are now signed to Warner Bros. Records. Playing music came naturally, though the Sierotas all picked up instruments without intending to start a band. The musicality of their family extends beyond the Sierota siblings checking out new artists in the L.A. music scene at a young age. They also had a recording studio in their backyard. Their father, a producer and songwriter, was the reason his children listened to music, watched other people make music, then began to make their own music. There is never a dull moment in the Sierota household. Someone is always working on new material, though Sydney believes it’s far too enjoyable to describe it as “work.” The Sierotas have always collaborated on their music. “We all work really well together because we’ve been working together our entire lives,” Sydney says. So when they signed to play on the Vans Warped Tour for two months, the family had to stick together. Echosmith did not plan to spend two months on the legendary summer tour. They only expected to play until the tour date in New Jersey, on July 7. A week into the beginning of the tour, Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman approached the band and asked them to stick around. Veterans of the tour already knew the ropes of Warped Tour survival, while Echosmith were freshmen to the experience. To their surprise, a lot of their new friends took the family under their wings. “When you’re young and in a band, people think you’re either great or not,” Sydney says. “But everyone was really accepting of us.” On a typical tour day, Echosmith wake up, check out cool coffee shops around the new city they wake up in, then begin interviews at 3 p.m. They 58

load in their gear around 4 p.m., start sound checking, perform around 8 p.m., hang out with fans, then sleep when they can. At first, their school and hometown friends questioned their decision to pursue a serious music career. Jamie and Noah have both graduated high school while Sydney and Graham have been homeschooled since their tour with Owl City in 2013. The older brothers have faced the college question often — will they enroll? At the moment, no. “Our friends would tell us, ‘You should really be going to college this fall,’” Noah says. “But this is our college.” School can wait. The opportunities before Echosmith cannot. Their friends still don’t get it, but continue to support the Sierotas. “We can’t always go and hang out at the mall,” Sydney says. “But we’re okay with that.” Recording their first full-length, Talking Dreams released this past October, felt all-too familiar to the Sierotas. They spent their whole lives watching musicians record with their father. Noah describes Talking Dreams as “loving and kind.” The album is light, pop-friendly and creates a bridge between indie-pop and alternative rock. “A common theme within the record is to not be afraid of doing something new,” Jamie says, making a quick reference to the record’s name. “We like to embrace new experiences and opportunities and we believe that people should do the same thing.” Female-fronted bands get compared to other female-fronted bands, and Echosmith have faced comparisons to Paramore on several accounts. “I think, as a newer band, people love comparing you to something else so they can connect with you in some way,” Sydney says, mentioning that people should form an opinion themselves after seeing them live. After this tour, Echosmith eagerly look forward to spending December at home. Next year, they’ll be heading out on the road once again to continue promoting Talking Dreams. “It’s so special to connect with people on a musical level,” Sydney says. “We just want that to happen over and over again.” Echosmith’s priority as a band is simple: It’s all about making a connection with others, and making a living from it. “If we could support ourselves without getting a side job, that would be pretty awesome too,” Jamie says, laughing. NKD


How does a band distinguish itself from thousands of other bands all making and producing similarly perfect music? Rock band NGHBRS decided to make their record imperfect. NGHBRS recorded their warmly-received debut fulllength, Twenty One Rooms, live in an abandoned mansion. They recorded each song straight through, in one take. They released that live-recorded version, raw and unedited. The Long Island four-piece consists of keyboardist and vocalist Ian Kenny, guitarist Thomas Fleischmann, drummer Jordan Schneider and bassist Eric Vivelo. Before NGHBRS, Jordan and Thomas played in a prog-rock band called Destiny or Design, and Ian played in a group called Of the Pillar, previously known as both Jiandy and Split the Skies. Eventually, connections in the Long Island music scene brought them all together, and they formed NGHBRS. The guys say Twenty One Rooms represents who they are as a band. “Our sound really developed with that record,” Thomas says. It usually takes weeks or months to record the perfect take of every instrument for every song. For NGHBRS’ the perfect cut does not mean it has no mistakes, rather, it accurately represents the band’s raw energy. NGHBRS prefer playing together live, as opposed to tracking each instrument individually in separate studios. “Our live show is the coolest thing about our band,” Ian says. “The energy on our record compared to seeing us live increases tenfold.” Releasing the live-recorded album gives a more accurate impression of what the band is like, and what they care about. “[The album] is way better than if everything is perfect,” Eric says. NGHBRS is better for it, too. They do not seem afraid of failure or making mistakes. They prefer focusing on the bigger picture. Likewise, NGHRS expresses this confidence by playing a variety of musical styles. Twenty One Rooms has heavy songs like “We Were Wolves,” raw anthems like “Dead Man’s Blues” and slower ballads like “Screwtape.” “We have a 60

sound, but our influences are so different that I don’t think we could really write something that another group would put together,” Ian says. The members of NGHBRS grew up in the ’90s and bands like Nirvana, Third Eye Blind, New Found Glory and Rufio influence their musical styles. “The Long Island scene is eclectic,” Thomas adds. “You’ve got your metal kids, your pop kids and guys that have been making the same music since 2001.” In New York and Long Island, all of this music comes together. Instead of a music scene full of rivalries and competition, the group says their local support system is one where “everyone gives a shit about local music.” Besides ’90s bands and Long Island, Instagram has also had an influence on NGHBRS. In the Instagram-inspired music video for “Hold Up Girl,” the latest single from their studio full-length The NGHBRS Collection, viewers browse through profiles, scroll through photos and play clips of Instagram videos. The video received so much positive feedback that Instagram retweeted the video on its Twitter account. “I was getting tweets in all different languages,” Eric says. “My phone wouldn’t stop vibrating! I don’t think we expected it to get to that level at all.” “We wanted to do something that was really out of the box and share-worthy,” Ian adds. “That’s the point of a music video, making sure that people see it and want to share it.” The video, which was conceptualized by Ian and edited by Jordan, characterizes the band’s ability to showcase their drive and energy. The video got attention from Wall Street Journal and Newsday, in addition to major music news websites and blogs. NGHBRS want to “one-up” their famous Instagram video. They want to continue creating work for people to share. NGHBRS have not set a standard of perfection for themselves. They’ve done something much more impressive — they’ve set a standard of spontaneous energy that they keep pushing higher and higher. NKD




“ITS JUST MODERN MUSIC, MUSIC THAT’S now,” says Seth Sachen, the flutist in Boston based band Gentleman Hall. They’ve been classified as everything from indie pop to retro synth, but Gentlemen Hall want a sound that extends past a label. Now signed with Island Def Jam and touring with Third Eye Blind, they’re headed for big things. The band met six years ago while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. Gavin Merlot and Cobi Mike are guitarists and vocalists, Rory Given is the bassist, Bradford Alderman is a keyboardist, Phil Boucher plays drums and Seth plays flute. Though all of Gentlemen Hall’s members are from different cities, (Minneapolis, Chicago, Cleveland and South Bend, Indiana) they were drawn to Boston because of its lively music scene and Berklee’s social nature. “We all just went to school pretty much so we could meet people,” Seth says. The group came together through a series of friends and girlfriends. It took a little while after they met, and a little extra time after they broke up from their girlfriends, before they actually started making music. They were all in different stages of their college career: Rory and Gavin had already finished while the rest of the members were still in school. The six members initially wanted to just be what Seth calls a “fun band.” But after a year or two, they realized that they wanted to really commit to their music, and began to work toward becoming a more prominent band in the Boston music scene. “[Boston is] one of the most supportive cities you could be in for music,” Seth says. Gentleman Hall, named after an old Boston speakeasy, hit its stride in May 2011 when the band won the Billboard Award’s Battle of the Bands in Las Vegas. Seth told Billboard after winning, “I don’t know what just happened. It doesn’t seem real.” The news of their victory was the first post on their newly published website. Their site now boasts of new releases, a Kendrick Lamar cover and promotion for their upcoming tour, which they expect to draw big crowds. “A lot of the shows are already sold out,” Seth says. “We’re just all ex-

cited to bring our music.” For the last two years, they’ve been working on an album and a sound that they believe to be uniquely theirs. “We’ve really strived to make it so our songs are noticeable,” Jacob says. “You [can] hear each member in the song.” The six band members come from different musical backgrounds, but they have worked hard to create a unified sound. “Everybody’s gotta explore their own creativity,” Jacob says of their musical differences. “When it does sync up, that’s what makes the magic of the band.” It took time to experiment and eventually find a sound that the six were confident in. Their near-finished album is evidence of how hard they worked. “That’s something we really worked on,” Jacob says. “[Our music] really has more of an identity than any of our other music has ever had and I don’t think you can mistake it for any other band. It just doesn’t sound like anyone else.” The album’s first single, “All Our Love,” was released this November, and the album is set to be released early next year. The time leading up to the album’s release will be spent making new music and deciding what will go on the final cut of the record. “We could write a song tomorrow that might have to be on the record,” Jacob says. Gentlemen Hall have been recording for two years, and writing songs for even longer. The band often pulls songs from a vault of music they have compiled. “We’re just excited to release this new music,” Seth says. “If it wasn’t for the fans there wouldn’t be any Gentlemen Hall, we just want to take them on the journey with us.” Gentlemen Hall started touring with Third Eye Blind in early November, a band that Jacob says he used to listen as a teenager. This is a big moment for the band, and the members of Gentlemen Hall have no plans to slow down. “The artist never wants to be done with something,” Seth says. The band is still releasing music to the fans on SoundCloud, and performing their own shows on top of finishing off the album. They don’t want to confine themselves to any time limit when releasing the album. They will be finished, Seth says, “when it’s a group of songs that we think the world will want to hear, and then make the next album.” NKD NKDMAG.COM



NKD Mag - Issue #30 (December 2013)  
NKD Mag - Issue #30 (December 2013)  

Featuring New Found Glory, All Time Low, Cartel, Breathe Carolina, Echosmith, You Me At Six, Tay Jardine, NGHBRS, Mary Lambert, A Great Big...