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EDITOR's NOTE: All I have to say is: school is a pain, running a magazine is a pain, but we made it through. This may be our shortest issue ever, but we have worked tremendously hard to get here. Thanks fam for reading!





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TABLE OF CONTENTS ST Visuals - Better Than Ashes Tour feat. Stick To Your Guns 4 #NeedsMoreSarcasm 10 Too Close To Touch - Emerging Artist, Our Choice! 12 Reviews 18 ST Visuals - Blink 182’s North American Headlining Tour 26 I The Mighty - A Look Into The Creation of Oil In Water 32 Night Verses - Into The Postmodern 36



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BETTER ASH THAN DUST TOUR feat. Expire, Get The Shot, Knocked Loose & Stray From The Path PHOTOS BY RYAN STACEY


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When I was younger, there was a big discussion around what was “punk rock”. There seemed to be a few things that kind of seemed obvious: not showering, very punk rock. Flipping the bird, punk rock. Powerbombing Grandma through a table because she didn’t make your fave thanksgiving stuffing, ultra punk rock. Times were simpler then (well they probably weren’t but in my world they were). My world revolved around making sure that if studs fell out of my studded belt that I would pretend to not care (even though I totally cared). I wasn’t allowed to be very punk rock while I lived at home; but I dreamed of the day I’d have dreads, flame tattoos coming up my forearms, riding dirt bikes, and listening to all the As I Lay Dying I wanted. Even though that notion is essentially just a customizable character from Rock Band, that’s how I looked at punk rock. It was then that I learned the most important rule of punk rock: saying something is punk rock, is in fact not punk rock. In the same logic, saying you were punk rock was also not very punk rock. It was kind of a joke, but kind of true; if you’re claiming to be conforming to something that purely exists because you don’t want to conform to it, that defeats the purpose. I’ve given this a surprising amount of thought over the years, especially as music changes and new bands form and I feel that at my ripe old age of 25, I can say that some things are punk rock and some things are not. Beartooth’s first album, very punk rock. Their second album, not so punk rock. Why? The first album was badass and had songs that were identifiable with everyone. The second album was about bullies in high school (which appeals to a limited crowd); and while I completely appreciate writing to your audience, Caleb Shomo was in Attack! Attack! when he was 15. You may think that band is tacky now, but back then that band was #litfam and you can’t deny it (if you do Henry Rollins is going to powerbomb your Grandma). I don’t know Caleb personally, but that dude had hella great hair and was definitely not a sucka like me in high school. I mean, he could have gotten bullied, but I feel like balancing that out by touring the world and being super famous was a pretty okay trade-off. The reason why I’m talking about punk rock is because of the band GLOSS (Girls Living Outside of Society’s S***) have literally epitomized punk rock, and I can’t collect that thought into a series of tweets short enough to make the point. So I’m rambling about it here. Take one look at this band and not a single person in the room would think that they don’t look punk rock. They took society’s norms of gender and sexuality and took a steaming dump on it. They gave it the middle finger and then wrote an EP about it called Trans Day Of Revenge, and suddenly that steaming dump they took blew up. I can’t conceptualize anything more punk rock than a classic 90s punk rock album written by non-binary punk rockers. However, the band had become a punchline onto itself by turning down a record deal with Epitaph. Now I respect their reasons for not choosing to do it - Epitaph was owned by Warner Bros. (aka the man) and they didn’t want to be associated with that. But what was missing, was the point of the band (to get their message out), and then they turned down the best opportunity (Epitaph) to do that. Now I don’t know why people start bands specifically, but generally if you’re dedicating a lot of time to it, at least enough to start your own label, you probably want to make it your day job. GLOSS were the most punk rock band I had heard of and I think in the natural progression of punk rock you play, get old, and eventually just sellout. GLOSS again flipped that concept and broke up not more than a month after turning down Epitaph. Citing that they were getting too much attention. If I could insert gifs into a magazine, I would insert every gif of an exploding car I could find because that’s how my brain felt when I read that headline. There is nothing - and I MEAN NOTHING - more punk rock than breaking up once you make it because you got too popular. So kids, understand this: you’ll never be as punk rock as GLOSS. The most you can hope for is to be as punk rock as Beartooth’s first album, maybe second album. If you reach that goal, the ancient punk rock jedi ghosts will don you with studded belts and jean vests from the afterlife, as you sail forth, flipping double birds everywhere. ~

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It’s only been two years since their initial signing to Epitaph Records, but for Too Close to Touch, that was more than enough time to become everyone’s new favorite band. The Kentucky-based rock quintet is already distinguishing itself as one of the most defined and uniquely recognizable in the industry – serving up everything from catchy melodies to post-hardcore riffs, and lyrics that can move you to tears. Since the initiation of the band, each of the members has made it their main goal create impactful music that the listener can feel; to convey a message that is vulnerable and wholly of themselves but relatable to their audience – which is something that does not always exist in the genre. Too Close to Touch is on the horizon of taking the rock world by storm – but they don’t exactly see themselves that way. st | 12 - OCTOBER 2016

“I would say we are just a normal group of guys who came together because we wanted to create music that we were passionate about and to see how far we could take it,” said Kenneth Downey, drummer of Too Close to Touch. “That’s what our band is about. Creating art and pushing ourselves to never stop moving forward in all aspects of what we do.” Starting their journey in 2012, Downey, alongside guitarist Mason Marble, had already started writing music and later began their search for members to form a complete band. Over the course of the year, vocalist Keaton Pierce, guitarist Thomas Kidd, and bassist Travis Moore all joined in, and with that Too Close to Touch was officially born. The group released their self-titled EP and in 2014, officially signed to Epitaph Records, under whom they recorded their debut album Nerve Endings. Since then, they have toured almost non-stop, supporting artists like Emarosa, SECRETS, I the Mighty, and Hands Like Houses. “It seems like every time we finish something we are immediately rushing to make the next move. We love it. We love being on the road,” said Downey. “The second we were finished in the studio we were in our rehearsal space preparing to head out on tour. We had every intention of playing as many shows as we could. We wanted to come right out of the gate sprinting.” And out sprinting they came, gaining fans across the US as both a supporting artist on various national runs and on this year’s Vans Warped Tour. Between the excitement of the audience and the energy of the artists on the tour, Downey described Warped tour as a surreal and unforgettable experience. “We were all there for the same reason – music. It was incredible. I can’t wait to do the tour again.” Too Close to Touch spent the summer gaining tremendous support from bands and audience members alike, but what really took the cake was winning the Alternative Press award for “Best Underground Artist” at the 2016 APMAs. “Winning the APMA was an almost indescribable feeling; I’ve never felt that way before in my entire life,” remarked Downey. “It was an inspiring moment for us that we will never forget.” But while most would take a moment to simply bask in the glory, Too Close to Touch is using it as a launching point to do even more with their career. “It has just made us even more determined to push harder and to go farther with our music.”

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Just before the awards ceremony on July 18th, the band had published a brand new music video and announced plans for the September 23rd release of their sophomore album Haven’t Been Myself. “Writing Haven’t Been Myself was a much different experience than writing Nerve Endings, mostly due to our extensive tour schedule,” Downey commented. Unlike the first album, Haven’t Been Myself was written almost completely on the road – in green rooms, from parking lots, in hotel rooms and in friends’ houses. “If we had free time we tried to devote it to writing. After our tour with SECRETS, we locked ourselves in an Airbnb in Los Angeles for a week prior to heading into the studio. We organized our thoughts as best we could and cranked out as many more ideas as we could. I think the fact that we were so far out of our comfort zone for the writing process of Haven’t Been Myself helped us write a record that pushed our sound to new limits just as we ourselves were being pushed.” While Haven’t Been Myself is the most unique piece the band has yet to record, it is still beautifully cohesive in the overall framework of the band. Citing bands like The 1975, The Neighborhood, and Walk the Moon as influences, Too Close to Touch make a point to pay sincere attention to detail in creating an impeccable aesthetic that makes them both independent and recognizable - setting themselves apart from all other run-of-the-mill rock bands in the scene. Too Close to Touch doesn’t just want to make music for the masses, they aim to create all-encompassing art that is appreciated and so characteristically their own. “Since day one we have taken aesthetic very seriously,” said Downey. “We feel that it is about the entire package. Branding is important. We always try to push ourselves out of our comfort zones as much as possible, and we implement that in how we approach music videos and photo shoots and any aspect of what we do as a band. Attention to detail is something we pride ourselves in.” From visual creations to live performances to all aspects of their recorded music, Too Close to Touch has created a dynamic sensory experience that has taken everyone by surprise and delight. But their intent was never to create something so off the wall – “What we want from Haven’t Been Myself is the same thing we want from any music or art we put out: we want our fans to enjoy it and we want people to know that we put everything we had into it. We play and write music because it’s what we love doing. We put all we had into this record and we couldn’t be more proud of the songs on it.” As adoration for the new release continues to flood in, the band has every right to be as proud as possible. Most artists begin as a just drop in the ocean – Too Close to Touch is already making the waves. They may only have a few years under their belt, but these boys are on an uphill climb that as of right now, that truly has no end in sight. ~

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The Color Morale - Desolate Divine Released via Fearless Records on August 19th, 2016

The Color Morale are one of those bands that are bridging the world’s of pop music and modern metalcore and without exception continue to do so on Desolate Divine. During the first listen you might feel as if you were listening to a really good pop goes punk cover. That sounds like an oxymoron but it’s not. Metal-core has really stagnated since the old days of As I Lay Dying and it’s nice to hear bands that aren’t afraid to not be kicking out crushing breakdowns every few seconds. One of the real standout tracks is “Version of Me” which seamlessly blends from crushing heavy verses to a chorus that has the vibes of the next big dance club hit. I had to put it on repeat because I couldn’t stop bobbing my head. It goes without saying that the unsung hero of this album is Steve Carey the drummer and one of the founding members of the band. His drumming chops is what unites all the style changes between these songs whether it be a fast paced metal riff or laying a poppy groove over a bridge. His style is what really ties their albums as a collective whole together. All in all, Desolate Divine is the new album to show your friends who don’t listen to metal what it’s about. It’s got enough accessibility without sacrificing the care elements that make up the genre and really the elements that keep The Color Morale fans coming back for more. [Dylan Lenton]

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Knocked Loose - Laugh Tracks Released September 16th, 2016 Pure Noise Records Knocked Loose! A name that seems perfectly fitted for a generic mosh-core band; a few breakdowns, some sing-alongs, a couple ‘bleghs!’ thrown in to taste. Knocked Loose has some of these elements, but there’s a special aggressive energy to their debut Laugh Tracks. There’s a visceral, seething anger that carries through the album; the kind of energy reminiscent of the late 90s hardcore movement. They’re not afraid of hardcore clichés. Many of their breakdowns or riffs use elements we’ve all heard before. But instead of steeping them in polyrhythms and guitar effect gimmicks, they play straight 4/4 and with passion. A lot of people seem surprised that they’ve blown up seemingly out of nowhere. However, a strong work ethic, a passionate and energized live show backed by music that mirrors the aggression the band has. Put this album on when you’re in the gym and you need something to get you in the zone, you won’t regret it. [Dylan Lenton]

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Mac Miller - The Divine Feminine Released September 16th, 2016 Warner Bros. Records

Taking Back Sunday - Tidal Wave Released September 16th, 2016 Hopeless Records

Mac Miller returns with the style we’ve been missing. The Divine Feminine begins with an introduction including children laughter and variety.

Tidal Wave is that album that the listeners who started with Louder Now want to hear. Gone are the clichés and the squealing vocals (not that we didn’t all appreciate them then). From the very first hit of the blistering opening track “Death Wolf.” This album is fresh, and in many ways the logical progression of Taking Back Sunday. The key element to the album I think is the energy, it has a passion and a youth that would make you think this album is a debut release. There’s a lot of maturity in the writing, lyrically and musically that made me listen to it three times back to back as soon as it finished the first time. Maturity not meaning slow or boring but quite the opposite. There’s a quality to a song that comes from a seasoned song writer, proper timings unique use of chord changes and timings that just keeps it interesting. This is album you want to listen to with the top down in your parent’s car on a first date ripping through a country road, recommend a denim jacket with a few rips. [Dylan Lenton]

Miller features artists that one may not have known of before: Njomza, Bilal, Ty Dolla $ign, Ariana Grande, CeeLo Green, Kendrick Lamar. But my all time favorite would be his second track “Dang!” featuring Anderson Paak. What I noticed about Miller’s talent is that he uses the style of his featured artists and incorporates them into his own. It was fascinating to listen to this sort of hip-hop, slow motion melodies throughout, with a different taste in each track. There’s a lot of love, sex, and happiness in this album. And how can you go wrong with any of it. Mac Miller’s use of different instruments - from trumpets to strings, and piano is a very attractive piece to this entirety of an album. I must say The Divine Feminine is Miller’s most mature album to date, and if he continues his artistry like this, I’d love to hear more. [Tiffany Chacon]

Young The Giant - Home Of The Strange Released August 12th, 2016 Fueled By Ramen Home Of The Strange is a fun new indie rock album by Young the Giant. Sporting a fresh upbeat aesthetic, the album has a nice consistent groove to keep your head bobbing the whole way through. One of the elements I really enjoyed was the use of synth and fuzz on the guitar leads to help give an added layer and dimension to the tracks that had almost a horn feel. Vocalist Sameer Ghadia’s vocal acrobatics keep every song feeling a little different and the band as a whole different from the current indie rock scene. Overall it’s a great album if you want an introduction to indie-rock that doesn’t feel too commercial or too pretentious. Recommend listening method would be with a nice coffee while people watching on the weekend, or preparing a jug of freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning. [Lenton]

Big Gigantic - Brighter Future Released Independently on August 26th, 2016

Not too often do you find projects that include a saxophone and a drummer with some electronics in the mix; and it works. For Big Gigantic, that is 100% the case. Their newest album Brighter Future breaks ground against their previous music showing a modern form of sophistication for the group.


The album opens up with track “Odyssey Pt. 1,” which sort of feels like an anthem that foreshadows the tone and style for the rest of the album. The album begins to pick up with the track “The Little Things” (feat. Angela McClusky). Immediately as a listener, you are hit with a more structured jam compared to their previous releases that still has the jam-band sort of vibe to it, without it breaching on the level of pure EDM. Most of the tracks on the album feature a diverse ray of rappers such as Logic, Waka Flocka Flame, and Pell. What is really interesting about this, is that it really shows off what Big Gigantic can do with their music. These tracks become more of structured, experimental songs rather than an album produced entirely on play. They are less chaotic in nature, and have a much more linear progression. One of the most notable tracks on the release is “Wide Open” (feat. Cherub). Having previously collaborated with Cherub in the past with their hit “The Night Is Young” that debuted in 2014, it’s a nice revisit with the band on this one. This track sounds like a mix between a Disclosure and tchami song [which is totally a great thing]. This is the one song that is a nice break in the album that gives you a musical palette cleanser, if you like to listen to the album over and over and over again. For a group that often gets grouped into the EDM genre, tracks like “Bring The Funk Back,” “C’mon” (feat. GRIZ), and “Brighter Future” (feat. Naaz) remind the listener of what makes the group unique: the strong instrumental use of the saxophone. These are the points in the album where the enthusiasm to make something that is funk verging the edge of EDM is present. Listeners are reminded of how the sounds of a saxophone can be paralleled to electronic music to make something cohesive and well thought out. Overall, Brighter Future can be described as a more unified and sophisticated sound compared to their previous releases. The thing that captures and illuminates the album to make it a success, is that you can picture yourself jamming to this one no differently than their previous releases. It’s still Big Gigantic, there is still saxophone, and there is still a nice level of funk (just a bit different this time). [Jake Lahah]

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Young Guns - Echoes Released September 16th, 2016 Wind-up Records Young Gun’s Echoes transcends a new realm for the group. Dividing what they had previously done, the group has introduced a new style for them. Echoes is full of little quirks and sounds that pull the album together. These soft and subtler fill elements compliment the heaviness of vocalist Gustav Wood. Tracks like “Mad World” and “Careful What You Wish For” show off this UK group’s punk edge but also sort of reminds you a bit of a new school Panic! At The Disco song (in the best way possible). But the release is dynamic with the variation in tracks across the record. “Paradise” slows things down a bit with a slower paced song. Echoes becomes something a little more along the lines of progressive though with tracks like “Buried” and “Mad Man,” which is a nice surprise from the band. But overall the album is edgy and has some swing feeling undertones that makes listeners hook and grab onto this release. You find yourself paying attention to the beat that is driven by the drums, the driving force along with the electronic fills. [Jake Lahah]

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I The Mighty - Oil in Water Released September 2nd, 2016 Equal Vision Records I The Mighty’s Oil In Water redefines their tone as an artist. In contrast to what a normal I The Mighty album would sound, this bands five song EP pushes the boundaries and ideas of music for a post-hardcore band, which is something we haven’t seen before. Taking five songs from their album Connector and reimagining, I The Mighty creates a new staple and context for this tracks to exist in. The EP is playful, and allows for room for lots of creativity with the completion of this record. Oil In Water makes you want to compare the tracks to the original sound, which if you do, may surprise you with the complexity I The Mighty has with creating music. The shocking surprise of the not so typical acoustic EP, is what really makes the listener want to dive down and dissect what this album is all about. It’s classy and stylish; but it makes you question what sort of directions the post-hardcore genre can evolve to. [Jake Lahah]

Anthony Green - Pixie Queen Released September 9th, 2016 Memory Music The man that does it all has done it again. Anthony Green, the father of an adorable family and lead vocalist of Circa Survive and Saosin, has released his fourth solo album Pixie Queen. Pixie Queen lets you explore a new realm of music, often verging on this tipsy feeling. The album is diverse allowing you to explore a wider variety of landscapes. Songs like “From What I Understand” and “Dawn On The Canal” have a utopian feeling to it that allows you to zone into the vocals. Conversely, songs like “I’m Not Holding You Back” and “East Coast Winters” focuses the listeners’ attention to the emotionalism deployed throughout the album. Pixie Queen is merely defined by the shift back and forth between emotion and visuals, which makes it one of the most sophisticated albums we’ve seen from Green yet to date. [Jake Lahah]

st MAG // WHERE GOOD MUSIC REACHES GOOD PEOPLE! other contenders in the scene and adds something unique to what Bad Omens has to offer.

Bad Omens - Self-Titled Released August 19th, 2016 Sumerian Records Bad Omens’ first full-length debuted August 19th courtesy of Sumerian Records. One of the newer bands in the Sumerian family, Bad Omens has quickly built a reputation for themselves by touring with big names in the scene and labelmates such as Born of Osiris and Veil of Maya. Their singles gained a lot of traction online and live, making this an anticipated release. The band experiments with several overarching styles in the release, including contemporary metalcore, industrial, and pop musicalities. There are even some large atmospheric moods. The lyrical content on the release is conflicting, as some tracks seem more spiteful while others are pessimistic and haunting. Due to these dynamic aspects of Bad Omens, the release feels like a 12-part journey. Bad Omens opens with “Glass Houses” – a catchy song that captures the poppy metalcore features of their sound and has a towering chorus that you might find stuck in your head pretty quickly. This track is a good opener and brings a lot of energy to the release right out of the gate. The next song “Exit Wounds” shows off Bad Omens’ industrial influence. This vibe is also in “F E R A L,” which is one of the best songs on the release. The industrial sound really sets the group apart from most

Bad Omens incorporates symphonic, cinematic musical elements that add an interesting flavor to their sound. One example of this is in the opening of “The Letdown,” which projects a big sound with synth/violin. These atmospheric qualities are present in “Broken Youth” and other various spots on the release, and they are likely due to guitarist Joakim Karlsson’s interest in cinema music. The order of the tracks on the release is worth noting. Although each of the songs have their own unique moods, the overall release feels cohesive and balanced – making their placement on the release seem thought-out and intentional. The juxtaposition of “Enough, Enough Now” and “Malice” is palpable. “Enough, Enough Now” lyrically conveys a message of weakness and mercy as vocalist Noah Sebastian whines and screams soliloquies over a slow groove. The track closes with a cool, melodic guitar solo and final chorus. Then comes “Malice,” one of the heaviest tracks on the release. The lyrics are angry and raw, while the overall energy is aggressive and unrelenting. There are other slower songs (like “Crawl”) as well as other heavier songs (like “Reprise”) that make this release dynamic yet balanced and keep listeners engaged throughout. Ending the release with “The Fountain” brings the journey to a close. “The Fountain” is a beautiful song characterized by a tribal drum beat. Flute notes accent the piece to give it a deeper, epic feel. It’s definitely a strong closer, and ends the album in a powerful way. [Kamna Talwar]

in the same vein of Dance Gavin Dance or Emarosa. I know I always seem to highlight drummers but truly the drumming is what brought me back to listen to this album more than just the couple times it takes to write a review. Overall the album feels fun and upbeat. It’s not a complete departure from the Sianvar - Stay Lost type of sound and style you’d Released August 5th, 2016 expect from these musicians, Blue Swan Records but an embracing of the best elements of what they bring to the table. Without Supergroups have this the pressure of needing this tendency to be a letdown supergroup to be a blowout in many cases. When an commercial success, Sianvar artist decides they want to have created an album that explore a different side of really stands as a strong their creativity, it can just be example of what this Post-exthe leftovers of all the effort they put into their main band. perimental-math-core rock is This is not the feeling you get really all about (that’s not a real genre I’m 100% aware). when you listen to Sianvar. You could say that they sound If you’re a fan of any of the similar to each band that they bands that make up Sianvar, give it a spin; if you’re not, draw from to make up their collective sum, but you would listen to it anyway. [Dylan Lenton] also be wrong. Sianvar’s Stay Lost is sexy, groovy, technically proficient but doesn’t feel overwhelming. Tracks like “Psychosis Succumbing” make excellent use of both guitar players, doing away with lead/rhythm. Either guitar track could be considered the lead, whether it’s quick choppy cuts or heavy wet leads. This is the album that you want to get the tab book for. The rhythm section is a bit unique and the synergy is palpable. The bass duties are handled by Michael Franzino who is the lead guitarist of A Lot Like Birds. The drumming is performed by Joseph Arrington also of A Lot Like Birds. It’s easy to see the chemistry between the two in their performance. While the album overall has a groovy rock feel. The rhythm is definitely soaked in jazz influence. This is what really separates the album from everything else that’s out there right now

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st MAG // WHERE GOOD MUSIC REACHES GOOD PEOPLE! Dance Gavin Dance - Mothership Released via Rise Records on October 7th, 2016


Dance Gavin Dance has always been a band of rulebreakers. Never have they shied away from previously unheard of melodies or off-the-wall lyrics, and even through various member changes, they have always kept a totally unique sound, specifically with their vocalists. Defined as post-hardcore, the group has always been deeply technical, very experimental, and often even psychedelic in their songs. They have broken boundaries in the genre with albums like Downtown Battle Mountain II and Instant Gratification, inspiring bands like A Lot Like Birds and CHON to explore this new style of music. But with more and more bands popping up in the “experimental” category, veterans in the scene must keep on their toes to stay relevant and visible amongst the tide of stylized guitar riffs. Rest assured, Dance Gavin Dance has come out in the lead yet again with their newest release, Mothership, set to release on October 7th via Rise Records. All at once strikingly new and comfortingly classic, this album provides everything that fans have come to love about DGD, while proving that they are by no means done surprising everyone with what’s up their sleeves. Mothership begins with a harsh, shrieking guitar riff and brutal vocals from not only Jon Mess, but also Tilian Pearson who is typically known to provide the silky balance to their otherwise sharp sound. But while the album begins on a hard note, it almost literally melts into the second song with a soft melody and silvery flutes. The record flips back and forth between the time-honored sound of face-melting guitar riffs and absurdly high notes, and some brand new elements like the totally unexpected auto-tuning of the word “cocaine” in the song “Flossie Dickie Bounce.” Personally, what really takes the cake for me in this album is the emotion that pours out of every song. “Chocolate Jackalope” won’t fail to make you simply feel joyful, and “Deception” is a powerful ballad that begs you to stop everything you’re doing and just listen. The final track “Man of the Year” begins so softly it almost sounds like an acoustic recording, but quickly builds to one of the most intense songs on the album. The melodies wrestle just as the thoughts and ideas do within the lyrics, and ends on a profoundly final note, capping off the entire piece. Dance Gavin Dance’s music has always been held to a certain standard, both by the fans and the band itself, and this album does not disappoint. In an ever-evolving music scene, bands are constantly working to adapt with the times, and Mothership has certainly adapted – DGD has brought a grand, new take to their music, enhancing their already well-loved sound and keeping true to their experimental roots. With a diversity of songs that flow effortlessly between one another, Mothership is a breathtaking reminder of how fantastic the post-hardcore genre can be. [Alexa Frankovitch]

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Photos by Tiffany Chacon

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Musical integrity is an admirable trait in artists. It’s always comforting knowing there are certain elements you can rely on when an artist puts out new music. On the flip side, it’s totally exciting to hear how dynamic and creative an artist can get with their song structures, instrumentation, and other vibes - yet few artists venture outside of their comfort zone like that. I The Mighty’s Oil in Water, out last month via Equal Vision Records (EVR), is one such release that really stretches the San Francisco quartet’s musicianship by recreating five songs from their latest full-length Connecter. The release not only transforms the selected songs; it transforms the perception of what this group is capable of. Brent Walsh (vocals, guitar), Ian Pedigo (guitar), Chris Hinkley (bass, backup vocals), and Blake Dahlinger (drums) are known for crafting frantic guitar melodies, danceable beats, and catchy lyrics into a fusion of post-hardcore meets experimental indie rock. They are also recognized for their acoustic work throughout their discography, which often follows the same overall song structure as the plugged in versions. Oil in Water is completely different. The EP incorporates different styles, different instruments, different atmospheres altogether that are new to I The Mighty. Because of this, the release is no-doubt their most ambitious take on their capabilities, challenging the guys to expand upon their musicianship.

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st MAG // WHERE GOOD MUSIC REACHES GOOD PEOPLE! “I think it was a good process to just write a completely different style of music,” said Dahlinger. “It was just fun to try new stuff and go outside the box and make weird shit happen,” added Hinkley. EVR originally wanted an acoustic EP, until the idea of completely reimagining the songs came up. “Well, the label originally wanted us to do a few acoustic songs, which we kind of did on the last album cycle,” explained Walsh. “So we asked them if we could extend the budget and do a five-song EP and also expand the idea of just doing acoustic to really flip a bunch of different songs on their edge and do something completely different with them.” Choosing which songs to recreate from Connector was pretty straightforward, and some songs came more naturally than others. “I think we picked the songs that didn’t really get their due on Connector that weren’t necessarily singles,” Pedigo said. “Also, songs that lent themselves to different genres [like] ‘Hound and the Fox’ kind of has a swing feel.” “Well, for ‘Hound and the Fox,’ we were sitting in a laundromat, and I was randomly cycling through songs and snapping along to it in my head,” said Walsh. “I was like, ‘Oh, that fits perfectly with that!’ So that one we figured out pretty early on.” I The Mighty encapsulate the distinct moods of styles such as folk (fiddle solo in “Playing Catch With a .22”), swing (jazzy trumpet solo in “The Hound and the Fox”), and electronic dance music (“The Lying Eyes of Miss Erray”) on the EP. Surprisingly, no one in the band had any real prior experience with these genres, so there was a lot of learning to be done.

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“I think for us it was kind of intriguing to explore other genres that we wouldn’t normally listen to,” said Hinkley. “It was really cool to dive into that world and listen to a lot of Frank Sinatra and big band stuff and try to emulate that to the best of our ability so we can make it as authentic as possible. So as far as musical exploration goes, it was really fun to just research different genres. It only increased our musical capacity.” All of the instruments on the EP are live, meaning nothing was programed, which is impressive considering the wide range of instruments on the release, such as violin, cello, and trumpet. This is also worth highlighting because many artists today can, and do, get away with programmed instruments, so recording everything live adds to the raw artistry that I The Mighty were able to achieve. To aid in the recording process, the band drew in friends and other musicians. “We have an old album... we had brothers that play strings back in the Bay area record on that album - this was like almost 8 years ago now,” said Dahlinger. “And they actually came back and did the stringwork for the EP, so that was kind of cool to have them and be able to work with them again.” The whole process was a creative experience with lots of collaboration and improvisation, especially in the studio. Some songs were less completely arranged than others, leaving room for exploration. Using each other’s minds as musical resources, the large group of artists in the studio jammed and actively recorded the release in a collective effort. “That was a huge growing thing for us too as musicians,” said Walsh. “We would go through and we would basically write a trumpet part one, or violin part one, or cello part one. Then we would lay down, that’s part

one. Then after that it was like no holds barred,” he added. “That was most of the studio time: sitting in a room with a bunch of musicians and bouncing ideas off each other.” Contrary to what it may sound like when listening to various atmospheres on Oil in Water and keeping in mind the open, synergistic environment when putting the songs together, there was a shockingly short timeline for this project. The whole shebang was done in two weeks. “It was a quick turnaround,” said Dahlinger nonchalantly. “We wrote and arranged the songs in a week, and then recorded them the very next week, and it was done.” “I feel like we always shoot for the stars, and thankfully we’ve had producers and engineers and friends help us get to that point at any cost, staying until 3:00 in the morning,” said Hinkely. “It’s always nice to have people on your side that will facilitate making the record that you want, no matter how ambitious your ideas are.” The EP definitely was an ambitious venture for I The Mighty, standing out in the band’s discography and in the scene in general because of how uncommon this kind of project is for most artists. “It’s fun to not be afraid to try new things and new genres,” said Walsh. Hinkley advised, “For other musicians who want to do an EP like this or write something outside of their comfort zone, it only benefits the musical mind to explore different avenues of chord progressions, lyrics, vocal melodies, so go for it.”~

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We live in a postmodern world. It means every idea you’ve ever had, someone has thought of it before. It does not signal the end of creativity, but it does mean the chances of creating something completely new is unlikely. Some fight it, some accept it, others don’t even consider it.

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PHOTOS BY TIFFANY CHACON // STORY BY DYLAN LENTON a band doing something unique, even avant-garde, in heavy music right now.

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For those who haven’t listened to Into the Vanishing Light, it’s a huge step from their debut album Lift Your Existence. The goal of the band was to take things a step further, coming in armed with 50 songs ready to be hashed out. Vocalist Doug Robinson credits a huge part of achieving and going past this goal to producer Ross Robinson’s involvement. “Ross took us deep beneath what we thought we were capable of, and I don’t really think there would be many similarities had we have gone with a different producer. The demos sound almost nothing like the songs they transformed into, which is something I will always cherish about this recording process,” Robinson said, adding that all of the songs truly took on a new form. “There really wasn’t any “pressure” at all; everything that happened was completely organic.” The album takes its twists and turns musically and lyrically, however, a heavy theme is common throughout the visuals. There are hints to a theme in the album which aren’t evident on a surface level, but are indicated through the use of repetitive black and red imagery, which have become staples in Night Verses’ aesthetic. There are those who believe concept albums to be the only way to stand out in the postmodern era. Sometimes, authenticity bleeds out in emotional depth within the lyrics. Usually this takes the form of dealing with depression, anxiety, or the past, alongside many other melancholy themes which can be pervasive in our heavy music scene. Sometimes the direct contrast is being too positive, almost fake in being overtly hopeful. This album, however, bears no real concept, but more of a personal step for Robinson, revealing itself within the album. “I think the one thing to know about this record is that there is no “self pity” within any of it. When I had presented the lyrics to Ross, there was self pity all over the record - that was one of the only ways I knew how to write. Not deliberately either, it just always came across as me blaming those around me for the issues I had going on within myself. That is true self pity. Ross worked me through all of that and taught me how to get rid of that negativity. This record has meaningful direction, but in an uplifting way. Uplifting doesn’t have to mean lighthearted - the content is some of the darkest content I have ever written, but it is a form of self-exploration and coming to terms with your past negativities while eradicating them from your present self.” Releasing a new album and taking on such a fresh sound can garner some negative reaction from critics and fans. In the case of Night Verses, the reaction has been extremely positive getting high critical acclaim and garnering an attentive fan base. “The response has been something we really worked hard for. We aren’t seeing any type of overnight success but bands that see that die out too fast,” Robinson said. “We wanted our record to earn our way into the listener’s ear and it seems to be doing exactly what we wanted. People are coming up to us and telling us how, after a few spins, the record has become one of their favorite albums of all time. This happens on multiple, multiple occasions, and it’s incredible to experience that.”

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I THINK OUR SHOWS ARE BECOMING MORE OF AN EXPERIENCE THAN AN ACT OF AGGRESSIVE MOTIVES. IT’S PRETTY AMAZING.” The importance of doing something different is accepting and understanding that it is not going to make you a rockstar overnight. Some bands like Refused struggled to have any success during their active career, but as time has passed, their album has become one of the standards in hardcore music. Staying true to the vision of getting fans the hard way shows authenticity and a commitment to what makes Night Verses the band it is.

the final cut. It says a lot about the thought they put into the final product, but it also leads listeners to wonder: what happened to the other songs?

“Not many bands achieve that anymore because of how they are to just act on what the safest path to success is,” Robinson stated. “We see people coming and singing every single word while still standing there and studying our performance. We’re becoming a band that people don’t want to mosh to. There’s a sophistication to the music we create and people are picking up on that. I think our shows are becoming more of an experience than an act of aggressive motives. It’s pretty amazing.”

where that takes us before releasing older versions of ourselves. It’s definitely talked about, though. As for revisiting parts for new songs, that rarely ever happens. Everyone is always down for creating something new and evolving.”

In music, sometimes sophistication can be reminiscent of something pretentious. In the case of Night Verses and Into the Vanishing Light, it isn’t. It’s something to be appreciated; to take a moment and let the band create the atmosphere. In thinking about many typical “heavy” shows, how many bands just tell the audience to “get wild”? Night Verses is creating this wild experience, fans just need to stand and listen. No one has to beat on someone else to have the same kind of experience. It’s an interesting twist on the crowd dynamics and how traditionally bands feed off of the crowd, not the other way around. To achieve this, it takes a high level of effort in writing and being extremely critical during the writing process. During the writing of Into The Vanishing Light there was a total of 50 songs written, yet only 11 made

“We always think about releasing “B-SIDES” at some point in our career, but for now our main focus is Into the Vanishing Light. We are extremely happy with what we’ve become on this release and we want to see

There is a dedication and integrity which defines Night Verses. The band is constantly touring all over the world, most recently coming off a busy summer with a two month release tour opening for Letlive., and then a recently completed run with Envy on the Coast. Off the road, Robinson is a simple man. It would be suspect otherwise; there are only so many years of touring before time at home is for rest and recharging. “I am happily married and rarely go out when I’m home. I hang with my wife and my cat. I love all of my friends but a lot of them are still in their phase of drinking and staying out late every single night. That’s just not me anymore. I am much happier in the comfort of my own bed. My wife and I do our share a love for traveling together. It’s not like I am a recluse or anything. I also just try and stay as active as possible when I am home. I train in Muay Thai and run every chance I get. Staying healthy when you are not on the road is vital to your health when you are on the road.”

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And beyond just travelling for tour, travelling for Robinson personally is crucial to his role in the band, due to the distance between members. Robinson lives in Jersey City, New Jersey and the rest of the members live in Fullerton within the Greater Los Angeles area. This presents an obvious challenge of which many may wonder: how a band can overcome such a distance when most bands can hardly get members in the same room living in the same city? “Well, if you’re the the one person (like myself) that lives very far away from the other members, I would advise you to learn how to become comfortable on an airplane,” Robinson suggested. “I don’t mind flying at all but I hate being uncomfortable. I would also recommend that if you’re going to be demoing via computer programs, don’t get used to any of the ideas you lay down. When we first started, I would work really hard on my lyrics and melodies, then I would lay them down and expect those takes to be the 99% completed material. Then, I would let those ideas resonate for months until it was time to fly out. That’s a terrible way to do it. I rarely ever record my ideas anymore and, if I do I know that I won’t lay the tracks down a million times. I will just get some ideas in my head and wait until we are all in a room together because that’s where things get worked on and that’s where the actual chemistry comes from.” This chemistry is the catalyst which in turn creates the songs and the live experience which embody Night Verses. It’s funny to think that in this day and age, a band traditionally classified as heavy would want an audience to stand and watch at a time when they are so used to people being encouraged at every moment to get wild. It speaks to the maturity of this young band in understanding the appreciation of their art and letting them create the moment. Who’s to say this isn’t the future of what we know about heavy music? Innovators are often misunderstood at the time and remain almost unknown until the rest of the world catches up with them. Night Verses, however, judging by their current road schedule, aren’t willing to wait. They’re going to advance their new breed of heavy music now with the authenticity, honesty, and uniqueness which defines their band and who they are as people. ~

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Issue 12 | Night Verses