I’ve been dwelling on this for some time now, but I have officially decided to no longer continue smflive.com, it has been one of my most serious projects but my heart and time is no longer invested like it was before and instead of drawing out an inevitable end, I’m choosing to finish it on a good note. I’ve met an incredible amount of people due to this project, and I’m so grateful to everyone that was a part of it. I’m closing this door, but many more creative opportunities lie ahead.

Thank you to SINEMA, Future Primitives – U.S., Ensul, Synical Deliverance,Avenue of the Giants, The Colossal Heads, Steels, American Pastime,Future Elevators, Black Willis Band, Chase Arrington, Ferguson & The Copper Dogs, Cahaba, The Syndicate Lounge, Zydeco, Saturn Birmingham, and many many more people that have supported me along the way.

 

 

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Ferguson & The Copper Dogs

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The beginning of The Copper Dogs began not too long ago in 2011 when singer/songwriter Sarah Ferguson and guitarist Dan Walker got together to begin writing songs. The duo lasted alone for a year together until they met drummer Michael Ray in Tuscaloosa’s own Green Bar during an open mic night, later to bring on bass player, Matt Young. The four piece group that we know as The Copper Dogs today began their embark in Tuscaloosa’s music scene officially in December of 2014 and have now reached the verge of out growing one city and have begun to run out into others, including Birmingham.

Ferguson and her fellow band mates wanted to dish out the “rawest” representation of their sound possible when recording their first EP, and in order to do so they reached out to Magnetic Audio. The band and well-known local studio together recorded the five-song EP that many in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham alike have come to listen to and enjoy. Listening to them, you can definitely feel the “old dirt country” aspects that come into play with other blues, old soul, and the right touch of unique elements that make the band stand out from anything else that had ever been done. Ferguson herself has a strong, feminine, voice that takes you back in time the best way possible while backing her is clean, perfectly rhythmic, music that complements her voice. Not to mention that Ray has built a reputation alone from offering consistently tight drumming that touches near perfection. Every member of this band is capable of standing alone in what they do, but the energy and collaboration between them together is what makes the group work so well. That’s been about a year or so now since the EP release, but they are reassuring that they’ll be beginning to work on their first full-length album once final recording decisions have been made official.

Personally not being all too familiar with Tuscaloosa, I couldn’t help but to wonder and question whether or not the band felt that being an original band in a cover-band college town was limiting to them or not.

” Compared to some other cities, yes. Especially with cities like Austin or [of course] major cities like New York or Los Angeles. Being in those places can create some opportunities that you can’t always find in smaller towns, especially college towns.” Offered Ray.

But other members agreed that being in such a diverse group of college students offers networking opportunities with other musicians from across the country. And, in fact, all agreed that there is a demand and market for original bands to have a place but lack of venues that will allow original artists. And the lack of support from a major group of the bars that make up Tuscaloosa is one of the most limiting factors of all, but with new projects in the work, it looks as though Tuscaloosa may be finally giving the original bands the space that they need by opening new breweries, bars, and other live music f1venues that feature live original bands, while alongside supporting and encouraging more outdoor festivals that would feature local talents.But despite all of these “limiting” factors that come into play at times, The Copper Dogs rise up against the odds to play their hearts out. And any band that has the guts and talent to do that, is a band I want to support.

 

 

Be sure to follow Ferguson and The Copper dogs via social media to keep up-to-date on upcoming shows and future albums!

Ferguson + The Copper Dogs Facebook

Find their music here

Future Elevators

I met Future Elevators’ front man, Michael Shackelford, a good deal before their self-titled current hit album  had been released, but I like so many other fans, friends, and loved ones could tell Future Elevators.pngthis band held a special talent unlike any other to touch Birmingham from the moment I heard them playing. Future Elevators ups the music game in Birmingham by offering us one of the most well recorded, visually stunning, and intricate albums that we’ve received with an inexpiable blend of retro and current pop sounds that against whatever odds, works, all the while Shackelford stands as the back bone to this near-masterpiece with singles like “Modern World” that has climbed to #13 on the Spotify Viral Hits Canada Playlist and #5 for the UK Viral 50. And once hearing them, it becomes very easy to understand how their single has made it that far given how each of the songs offer various seductive, original, music and lyrics to the listener. Future Elevators offers the world, let alone Birmingham, raw, undeniable, talent that consistently leaves asking “where the hell did this come from?” while begging for more. To get this album, Birmingham locals can find it at our very own Seasick Records on CD and/or Vinyl while those a little further out of town can find their very own copy here.

Blake and Adam Williamson (Black Willis/Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires)

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I met Blake and Adam for the first time when they came in for lunch at the local restaurant I work at [insert a lovely image of myself here where I am surely sweaty and drained from my slightly less-than-glamorous day job] and instantly knew I recognized them from somewhere, when I decided to ask it turned out that they help their Mom run a shop she owns literally two store’s down from where I was. Duh. For months after I started my job everyone had mentioned the world-traveling brothers that I “just had to meet” and there they were! Trucker hats and all. Later on an off day I impulsively decided to go into the store and ask for a chance to talk to them for the website, and with a “sure, just come back around lunch time” we were set. To this day, if you ask me who some of the most welcoming and modest musicians that I’ve had the chance work with are, I will tell you the Williamson brothers without hesitation. To this day, if you ask me who some of the most talented and hard working musicians that I’ve had the chance to work with are, I will tell you the Williamson brothers without hesitation. Making music since they were kids, these guys have seemingly been through it all, and aren’t I the lucky one to know them well enough to hear them tell some of the tales in person? I love these guys. I love the music they make, their laid back attitudes, their professionalism, their friendship, hell I even love their significant others just as much as I do them… I love their Mom that owns one of the best looking store fronts in Historic Irondale for god sake! I did this interview a long time before I ever got here to type it for your viewing pleasure, and I’ve never received anything other than patience and kindness in return. I urge anyone who has yet to listen to the incredible music that comes from the glory fires to do so, and I urge anyone who has yet to make their way to see Black Willis live yet to do so as well. Not only is Black Willis made up of said brothers, but it’s also made up with the equally talented Ronnie Lee Gipson (The Golden Monica and NECRQNOMIKIDS) and Justin Colburn. I’ve seen Black Willis play live on a couple of occasions, and with confidence can tell you that I, nor anyone else I’ve been in an audience with, have left disappointed.

SMF Live: Lets start out with your personal history with music and how it has led you to where you are now.

Blake Williamson: Well, it’s been a long time. As of this past year we’ve been playing in a band now for twenty years in some shape or form. It started out as a band called Vesper, which was a band for a really long time, maybe the course of ten years and then sometime between 2003 or 2004 we had some members of that band who moved away, and our buddy Matt Patton, who plays with Drive By Truckers, started to play with us and we started a band called Black Willis.

Adam Williamson: And we still play.

BW: Yeah, Black Willis still plays and we’ve been a band for about ten years now, also. I actually started to play with Lee in the Spring of 2010, and he was in a band called Arkadelphia, who I was a fan of. I thought they were great. I guess he was trying to do something new and The Dexateens were in the flux. They were broken up and then they weren’t or they did a lot of touring then they didn’t do anything. So, Lee started his own side project and that’s what this band became. And I guess it’s about two or three years into it. Adam is a guitar player, but he made the transition to bass, so now we actually make up the rhythm section!

SMF: I know a few siblings that have music in common like that, but my brother and I are often just like night and day, so has it always just come naturally for you guys to be doing the same thing together?

AW: I’d say yes.

BW: It was pretty natural, as far as stylistically and the stuff we were into, we’ve always been into the same things.

SMF: Who’s older?

BW: Adam is older, so growing up and looking up to him, whatever he thought was cool I was like “Yeah, that’s cool!” There was always very small differences in musical taste. So, it worked [well] because it’s always easy for us to strike a happy medium.

SMF: How has the recording process been for your third album coming out?

BW: Really nice, actually. We record with a guy named Jeremy Ferguson in Nashville and he’s been really great. He records a lot of really good bands, so he has a home studio, it’s not the most “pro” thing, which makes it a comfortable environment. We’ve become friends with him and his family. Right now we play the new songs out on the road, because that’s the only way to get things how you want them, is through trial and error.

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Photo Courtesy: Ann Sydney Taylor Photography

SMF: How has the Birmingham music scene been to you? Because you guys have been around long enough to have seen it big, fall, and then begin to re-build itself.

AW: It’s been strange, for the most part.

BW: It’s come and gone. It’s not that it’s been nothing, just the trends will change. As much as I hate to admit it, Birmingham has always been a very trendy city. So I’d say in the early 2000’s there were all of these “Art Rock” bands. They didn’t call it Indie Rock, which it totally was, it was this combination of R.E.M and some spaced out Pink Floyd sound or something.  There were a bunch of bands like that, and guess what? They all dropped off the face of the earth. There were a few bands that continued to play though all of it and that have been around forever like Teen Getaway, Nowhere Squares-

AW: That band Skeptic still plays a lot.

SMF: I think I just got a flyer for them playing a show at The Nick.

BW: They’re always playing at The Nick! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen them at The Nick, and I’m happy to see them every single time. I guess the first good spot that was for anybody to play was Cave 9, because they had big shows and small show…and it was kids! Anyone could get in. That’s a major thing, really, because we don’t have any of those places anymore. We’ve talked countless times about how there’s nowhere to play for younger people. We keep getting these Dad’s that come to our show. Dad age, like forty plus, seems to be the age range for a majority of our fan base. People identify us with this southern rock but somehow don’t understand that we aren’t rednecks…that’s now what our songs are about. Just because there’s been songs about all of that. I could personally care less if I heard a song about whiskey ever again. Unless it was creative, which it rarely is. Anyway, Birmingham has always been good to us, Bottletree was good to us, and The Nick has been good to us over the years.

SMF: I think everyone is still mourning the loss of Bottletree.

BW: And they should, because it was great.

AW: It was a great place to play.

BW: It was just unfortunate for the music scene here, bands get stuck sometimes, but now there are more bands hitting the road and touring and doing something-

AW: That’s cool to see. There used to be a huge problem of all these great bands that would play thirty shows in town and that’s about it, which is fine, but it’s nice to see them getting out and touring.

BW: They’re trying. That’s the whole issue with a band, is that when the same people hear your music over and over and over again none new is hearing it. Say you’re playing at Saturn this Saturday night and then next Saturday you’re playing at Parkside, well, you’re only two blocks away from where you were last week playing for the same people that were at your show last time you had one. There’s a fine line of over-saturating.

AW: With the past couple of years, we’ve played Birmingham maybe two or three times within a year. Just because it makes those shows better, and you might sell it out once you finally play back in town instead of playing ten shows where people are like “Oh, we’ll just catch the next show.” Well, it’ll be a year!

SMF: How is major traveling? You guys have been all over the place. Where’s the farthest you’ve gone so far?

BW: The farthest is Poland, probably.

AW: Poland.

BW: We’ve been to Scandinavia, like, three times to tour.

SMF: How do you even get to that point where you go overseas?

AW: It just builds.

BW: Someone will eventually contact you that’s like “We want to bring you over” so we’ll say “Okay, lets do it!” and usually that offer will just be for one show at first.

AW: It’ll be for a bigger show, like a festival, and you’ll build around that.

BW: You have to love travelling, though. If you don’t then it’s going to be hard for you. We had a guy that was in the band, a wonderful guitar player that is still one of my favorite people in the world, but-

AW: It just got him down.

BW: It did, it just got him down. It wasn’t satisfying him. It wasn’t stirrin’ his Kool-Aid is what we’re saying. So he’s in Tuscaloosa playing gigs all of the time, and that’s his element. And that’s what we were talking about before, to quote Sweet Dog from The Dexateens, “some people aren’t cut out for the front line” you have to- it’s a sacrifice, you know? You can’t be home all of the time, girlfriends get mad, relationships are hard to sustain, people have to look out for your pets and that sort of thing. You have to like the guys you’re in the band with and you have to be tolerant of people.

AW: You have to almost have a certain type of auto-pilot that you can go into because it’s hours and hours of time that you;re riding or waiting around. And a music venue in Colorado is no different from one in Denver or anywhere else. It’s all basically a bar with a stage. You get there and you’re like “Okay, here I am with six hours to kill.”

BW: I remember we were in Denver and I was talking to my girlfriend on the phone and she went “How is Denver, is it cool?” and I was like “Well, the bar we’re playing at is alright.” And once we’re gone we have to leave because it’s an eight and a half hour drive to Louisiana or something like that.

AW: You just have to focus on the task at hand.

BW: Which is playing the shows.

AW: Yeah, because that’s the only thing you can control, really, is your playing. Most of everything else is out of your hands. That and you can just…not be an asshole.

BW: Show up on time, play good, and be nice. That’s all you’ve got. There’s nothing else anyone can do to make it any better.

Black Willis Facebook

Future Primitives

Like many times before, Birmingham’s immense amount of talent never fails to impress me, and in this particular case I was blown away from a psychedelic indie group known as Future Primitives. Long time before meeting the group, I was able to catch a glimpse of what intensity every member of the band performs with, and seeing them live was nothing short of what I was expecting. It’s hard to give a single Primitives member the “front man” title due to the fact that everyone performs with the same amount of energy as the next. A singer fueled by the inspiration of early English rock, you say? Check. A keyboard player that puts on a show of his own? Check. I could go on for days, but the point is that this band works as a collective unit unlike any other I’ve witnessed. They’ve worked with countless greats from Birmingham’s music industry for years (counting back to early 2000’s?), and have since managed to build a large support group consisting of their “bad ass wives” (all except one member of the group is married with at least one kid, I know, sorry ladies!) to endless support from fellow musicians and music lovers from all over the southeast. Drawing musical inspiration from older legends like Led Zeppelin and current touring bands such as Tame Impala, Future Primitives has managed to combine this variety of sounds from several era’s and genres to form what is their very own.

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SMF Live: Take me through your personal history with music and how it led you to where you are now.

Daniel Hargett: Well, me and Casey both pretty much grew up playing music with our Dad, and we grew up playing in church or stuff like that…that’s pretty much where it all started at. Then, obviously, as we got older we got into what [we play now].

Casey “Cosmo” Hargett: I was working at a construction site and I met this guy named Dewayne and he had a band called Low Flying Plane and asked me if I wanted to come play drums with him, and that’s where I met Shane, and I used to bring Daniel to practise with me but he never actually played.

Shane Wynn: He never said anything, either.

CH: No, he never said anything, he always just kind of sat in the corner. Me, Shane, Dewayne, and another guy named Clint – we didn’t have a bass player but Daniel came to every practise and he learned how to play all of the bass lines, and eventually we decided to make him the bass player for a while, then Dewayne decided he wanted to quit, so once he did that he took the Low Flying Plane name with him and everything. We decided to start a new group and that’s pretty much us three and that guy named Clint, and we started a band called White Heap and we played for maybe four years together. We never got too popular or anything like that, we were just kind of coming out when the punk scene was still going strong and we’d go to shows booked with all of these punk bands, and we were like the only psychedelic group it seemed like at the time. Eventually Clint quit because he had other things going on, and at that point it was just us there and we were like “Well, what are we going to do now?” We decided to try to keep it a three-piece for a little while until we decided we needed some more members. I was like “I’ll play the bass instead of being the drummer,” and Shane’s little brother Caleb started to play drums for us. Justin is really close with Caleb because they grew up together. He played keyboard and we needed someone to come in and give us that sound, so that’s how we got Justin in the band. We played like that for the longest time, I played bass for a while, and we eventually got to where Caleb couldn’t play with us anymore, so I went back to the drums, and we got with a bass player names Lance Hays who played with us for a very short time, but within that very short time that he played with us he got out name out there. That’s where it all started, really.

SW: That was in 2012.

CH: Yeah, that’s when we became Future Primitives.

DH: We owe a lot of credit to Lance Hays for helping us out. He just knows a lot of people, he worked at Bottletree for a long time.

Justin Todd: That’s where we got to know all of these people that decided to start helping us out.

SMF: Did you kind of start out at Bottletree then?

CH: We’ve only been playing Birmingham for thirteen or fourteen years.

JT: We did get bigger at Bottletree.

CH: Once we played there it started taking off. It was like all of a sudden there was this place where it was our kind of people that wanted to hear our kind of music.

SW: We had to work our way up, we had to play a bunch of those showcases that let us play, like, five songs.

JT: Yeah, we’ve definitely paid our dues. But, that’s how we became Future Primitives.

CH: Yeah, then we had Lance in the band for a while, but he decided to go tour with someone else. We met Lane because we went to record with Jeffrey Salter from Banditos and Lane was just hanging outside there.

Lane Smith: They called me and told me they had this bad ass band that had bad ass fuzz guitar and that I needed to come check it out. So, I did, and then that was when I met them. Lance and I have similar personalities, so we hit it off and I called him up one day out of the blue like “Hey Lance, what’s going on?” and he was like “Nothing, I’m moving.” So I went “What do you mean you’re moving? What about the band, what’s happening?” and that’s how I found out about everything.

CH: Daniel and Greg play in a band called The Great American Breakdown together.

Greg Henderson: In some form that band’s been around since 2003. We’re still going today but Great American Breakdown went on tour and we kind of took a break after that. I asked Dan if he would run it by the guys for me to come play guitar.

JT: I always thought Greg was the most bad ass guy. I’ve watched Greg play in Great American Breakdown for years. We had been looking for a guitar player and we needed somebody to come in and play that would know how to put the best licks in- Greg was that person. Greg could put the sickest licks into these moments, and so does Lane, when Lane came in his bass was thumpin’. Our band has evolved and evolved, like right when you think we’re fucked, we get even better.

DH: I forgot to say I think Greg was in White Heap for a hot minute.

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SMF: How have your personal influences gone into Future Primitives’ sound, because it’s very unique.

JT: Each of us are inspired by different things.

DH: First of all, Shane is a really big fan of The Who. And Guided Voices, which of where he gets a lot of his influence from. He writes his vocals and, in general, that’s the way he presents himself in his live act. Me personally, and I can speak for Greg too, we’re both really into Led Zeppelin, and that’s where a lot of those rock and roll roots come from. Casey is really into The Beatles, so we get some pop-ey elements into it.

LS: I listen to a lot of softer music, when I’m at home especially, it just puts me in this chill mood.

GH: Some new artists that we all listen to together on tour are Tame Impala-

DH: Spiritualized.

JT: Black Angels.

SW: All of the different eras of rock are here, like prog rock, glam rock, psychedelic rock, and just everything. But there’s been a good rock record made for every year since 1953.

SMF: So what have come challenges been with releasing your latest album (“Erase The Future & Hope For Now”) compared to your other EP’s?

JT: The Evolution. There was this huge evolution. What we did was different because our last album was primarily written by Dan, Shane, and Casey.

GH: I wasn’t on that album, I hadn’t joined the band yet.

JT: With this album, I wrote two songs on it, Shane wrote two songs on it, Dan wrote some…Greg came in at the middle of it when we were all ready producing these songs, so he’s not on this one, but will be for the next album.

DH: Just trying to evolve, basically, when you’re trying to write an album people hear it so you want to keep up the genre and the style that you play because you know that’s what your certain crowd is into but also want to do something different every time to keep people on their toes.

JT: There’s a certain groove you have to get into, and finding that can be tough. We couldn’t do it without each other.

Want to keep up with Future Primitives? Good news, they’re on the road, so keep an eye out on these dates and catch a show near you!

9/28-Saturn, Birmingham, AL w/ The Glorious Sons
10/3- Syndicate Lounge Birmingham, AL. w/ Nerves Baddington 10/30-Humphrey’s Huntsville, AL. w/ The Van Allen Belt
10/31-Upsidedown Plaza Birmingham, AL. w/ The Van Allen Belt, TBA
11/21-Head On The Door Montgomery, AL. w/ TBA
WITH MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON !!!

http://www.futureprimitivesmusic.com/

Future Primitives Facebook

Great American Breakdown Facebook

The Colossal Heads

 

I met The Colossal Heads for the first time only a matter of months ago, but almost every time I catch myself talking to any one of the three members of the NOLA based desert punk grunge band, I feel as if I have known them for years. Despite the somewhat controversial name TCH has made for themselves, there is no denying the talent and captivating energy that radiates from them in person and on stage. It was by some twist of luck that I found myself introduced to TCH’s lead vocalist and guitar player, Tony Italiano, soon to be followed by fellow members Danny Lester (bass) and Kyle Carroll (drums) all asking the same question, “Are shows here always like this?” I may not remember exactly what I said, but it has always been hard building a defense for Birmingham’s music scene while looking into the face of a dead venue. The Colossal Heads was unfortunately given a bad first impression that left “a bitter taste” in everyone’s mouth, but I offered every redeeming quality that I could, thinking “There’s got to be something better than this,” and I was fortunate enough to convince them that the Birmingham I know, love, and live in was worth that second chance. That the Birmingham I knew offered a “better” that everyone was striving for. For so long I wondered how I could find this “better” and share that with hard-working bands such as TCH, and meeting incredibly talented individuals like Aaron Greene, owner of Birmingham’s Syndicate Lounge, has helped to put me one step closer to that. What was a previous show with all but two guests at the less-than-popular venue, suddenly grew to be a show of about thirty-two. Not as big as I was reaching for, but definitely a step towards the right direction. That night at The Syndicate Lounge I witnessed one of the best crowd reactions there that I had seen in quite some time. Musically, their sound is an undeniable art that is treated as such and incomparable to any other band I’ve heard thus far, drawing inspiration from various artists such as Oasis, My Morning Jacket, and The Strokes among many others to create the unique sound that is The Colossal Heads’ very own. The two days TCH had revisiting Birmingham were two days I struggled with personally due to completely unrelated circumstances, but through that they continued to show their unwavering friendship and patience as I struggled to maintain the level of professionalism I like to hold. But, despite those events, The Colossal Heads, Olyvia Kirk, and the amazing team at The Syndicate Lounge managed to be the glue that held me together. It’s hard to see people for who they really are when often they’re hidden behind walls of intoxicants, aggressive music, and public personas, but behind all of that I’ve been given some of the best relationship advice I could ever ask for, simple acts affection when I though nobody wanted to touch me, and stories I will forever cherish. The Colossal Heads is not just a band, The Syndicate Lounge is not just some venue in some city, and I am not just some young unknown writer, even though we all too often feel like we are “just” those exact things. We are people with meaning…meaningful histories and meaningful aspirations living and traveling in places and cities that people have shed blood and tears for. I, sometimes all too often, write on how I have found home in the music industry, but I can’t seem to say it enough. I love what I do and the people I work with, and I’m looking forward to building stronger shows and relationships based from that love. Tony, Kyle, Danny…you all know how to contact me, and if you ever need me, I’ll be there just as you all have been and I’m counting down the days to when you’ll be back.

,Summer.

SMF Live: What direction do you feel music is headed, and where do you fit in? 

Danny Lester: I feel that music is headed in a disastrous direction, and we are a reason for it to be headed in the right direction.

Tony Italiano: I don’t think the direction is awful, we’re not paying attention to the right things. The focus of the industry, especially for rock music, is a little diverted in everything. Radio seems to be getting worse and worse, which is no shock to anyone, we just have to do our part to fix that [by] writing very honestly and with high energy.

DL: I hope that once people get to see who we really are, what we do, and what we represent that it will inspire a lot of artist’s and a lot of musicians to come out and follow in the footsteps of creating music like we do. It’s something that is meaningful and passionate.

TI: It kills the weaker ones along the way.

DL: Yeah, we just want to put it back on the map where creating deep, meaningful, music is more of a part of life. Like back in the 90’s music used to inspire people, and now people are just creating music just to make a buck by writing one simple line down and singing it over and over. There’s more to that then just creating for the hell of it, you know?

SMF: A quote from Tony in our last interview- 

TI: Should I apologize in advance?

SMF: It says “Here’s to our first and last show in Birmingham.” What brought you back? 

DL: You.

TI: You did, first of all, but it’s the same way I feel about any venue or any promoter that doesn’t do their job…it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And as a touring band that’s something you have to deal with all too often. When you show up to a place with no flyers, no radio promotion, and with the other bands we hope that they bring whatever fans that they have…and it’s just a combination of things. I’m glad we came back. We were at The Syndicate Lounge last night. Very, very, cool place.

SMF: What is the music scene like in New Orleans and what differences have you noticed from across the country?

Kyle Carroll: The New Orleans music scene is very scattered, there’s a lot of different genre’s around New Orleans, a lot of people trying to do different things. I mean, for the most part, it’s brass and that native New Orleans music that kind of gets the pickin’s around the city.

DL: Like anywhere else, EDM is very prominent.

KL: Yeah, there’s pretty much an EDM scene anywhere you go now. As far as traveling and going different places, going out west- it felt really nice going out west because there was a lot of really talented bands that we ended up playing with in the same genre as us, and that’s reassuring that there’s still people out there still trying to do something real and [trying to] get rock music out.

TI: It’s an age-old battle fighting against music that’s been kind of grandfathered into the city itself. And I’ve said this before, I don’t have any hatred or malice against brass music, jazz, funk, or any of that traditional stuff. But, being in a rock band in that situation, especially an original rock band, that can go one of two very different ways. [You] can stick out and get noticed because you are so different, or you can be completely unaccepted. I feel like one has slowly turned into the other because we have been doing very well in New Orleans this last year, its been killer, and getting people just to pay attention and to see what you’re all about seems to be an art itself on top of your music.

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SMF: You’re getting ready to release you new album, right? 

DL: Hell yeah, Mammoths.

SMF: So what can we expect from it, and what are your plans for touring? 

DL: I think we decided on releasing it in January, and what you’re going to get with that album is a diversity of music, but at the same time it all fits in with each other. We’ve played multiple shows where the promoters or people that just put the shows together get asked “Where did you find these guys?” Every song sounds like something different with different influences in each song that we play on the album. As much of our live sound will be in this album, or as much as we could, because that’s when we’re most dominant, is when we perform. People that liked our EP and that enjoy seeing us live are not going to be disappointed at all because we’re making sure that everything is perfect before we release it.

KC: As far as touring after the release, we haven’t been up too far the East Coast or up North, yet, so that might be something that we have in mind to do. We might still go back out West, we really don’t know yet.

DL: We made a lot of really great friends out West that really appreciate what we do.

KC: When you hit city’s for the first time, you really don’t know what to expect. You don’t know who you’re going to meet, but everything was pretty successful as far as our West Coast tour went, and as far as meeting cool bands and people that just knew what was going on around the city. It’s going to be pretty legit once we plan to get back out there.

SMF: Have you considered adding on a fourth member to the band or do you want to stay a three piece? 

DL: When we first started trying to get a grip and direction on our sound, we were thinking about adding a fourth member, but every time we tried-

KC: The chemistry with people that we pull in never really works out. I mean, obviously by now we’ve got it pretty down. We’ve played together, been around each other enough…pissed off one another enough to where we know each other enough to work together.

TI: When you spend enough time in small confines together, you’re bound to see everyone’s real colors. I’ve always said that you never truly know someone until you live with them, same antithetic. But also, like I said, the rate at which we write good music seems to escalate the more we’re together and adding anyone else into that pot would kind of hinder us at this point. And, another thing is, it doesn’t seem necessary right now. I don’t know what we would truly gain by adding another person.

DL:  We have enough material to release two albums at this point, honestly, but when we get together and we jam and create, it’s just this chemistry. It’s just there, like he said, and if we did end up pulling anyone else in then it would hinder what we can do ourselves. I feel like we get done as much as we need to get done.

TI: I feel like we’d just know when we’d need to add somebody, we’re not just going out to go out and look for them, it would just happen.

SMF: Obviously, having a solid support system at home is important for any touring band, but I’ve found that it’s almost equally important for them to find that support, and to build connections, with people from other city’s. How has it been building those relationships, and what are some good and bad things that have come from them? 

TI: In some ways, it’s been easy, and in some ways it hasn’t been easy at all. A lot of it depends on where we’re going, first of all, in some towns it’s like we haven’t done enough research to even try and play [there]. It may just not be the right time, or there may just not be a scene there, really, or none there will have that interest in music. But that’s what touring is all about, it’s this giant trial and error. It’s been a real eye-opener. There are some city’s I thought would be a lot better than others, and you’ll get big surprises. That’s what I’ve gained from this tour, what to do and what not to do.

DL: New Mexico and Tucson may not be huge music city’s, but at the same time we’ve met people there that care and that care about the direction that music is going. We’ve met people that support us and have shown that they support us. It’s really inspiring to me when you go to those places and you meet those people that want the same things that you do.

SMF: I feel like you have to put a lot of trust into people. 

DL: Yeah, exactly.

KC: It kind of sucks that you have to do that though, because I feel like if you want to get something done, that you have to do it yourself. But, a lot of the time you have to rely on people to get stuff done for you.

DL: There’s a lot of factors that go into it, and trusting people in different city’s is a major part of that because you don’t know anything about that city, all you can go off of is what they say will help you in that city. Sometimes it bites you in the ass, sometimes it works out for you. Like Tony said, it’s all trial and error.

SMF: Where do you gather song inspiration, is there method to the madness, and have you struggled with getting what’s in your head on to paper? 

DL: We’ve hit brick walls many times when we’re writing.

KC: Some of the songs we have were written in five minutes. Musically, it came together with a whole structure. We record every practice that we have, so we’ll come up with something and be like “All right, cool!” They’re actually really good at remembering what they do in the middle of jams and stuff like that so we can just put it on the back burner. There might be something like a different part that ends up being all we needed to make another song.

DL: There’s been countless times where we’ve written songs and something else that we think will be a cool song that we put on the back burner and it fits perfectly into another song we’re trying to finish. It’s funny how things will come back full circle.

TI: When I’m writing lyrics there really is no set method for how it happens, they’re my sort of metaphorical observations of any sort of situation I’ve been in or something that’s happened to me personally. I’m a big fan of a metaphor because A, It opens up my writing to a lot of intricate word play and B, I mean, anybody can just say something, but I try to say it in a way that racks people’s brains a little bit.

DL: To say something that means something…that’s kind of the point of the whole process.

TI: And to still have it be entertaining.

SMF: Based off of the fact that you’re willing to sleep on someone’s floor for the sake of touring, what are you looking to gain from touring other than basic exposure? 

DL: Making connections.

KC: Just experience in general.

DL: There’s no getting around sleeping on floors unless you want to spend every dollar you make on a hotel room. Which, we’ve learned, is not the way to go.

KC: It sucks that your touring has to evolve around your budget so much, but it’s just kind of the way it goes.

DL: When you’re not on a label, and you’re doing it all yourself, it’s imperative to meet people that will let you stay with them. As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s still a roof over your head. We’ve had some delightful experiences, and we’ve had come not-so-delightful experiences.

TI: Again though, it gets better every time, you learn a little bit.

KC: You build better connections with people so you know that no matter what, or no matter when you show up, you’ll always have a place to crash. That’s just been an improvement since we first started out-of-town shows.

TI: If you truly believe in something, and you do it as best as you can, and you simply refuse to quit then eventually somebody, somewhere, is going to notice what you’re doing and extend a hand to you. Whether that be a record label, or a venue, or a crowd, or even someone just coming up to buy a t-shirt and poster. But that’s it, it’s a game, it’s like the industry is testing out how much shit you can take before you either just walk away-

DL: Walking away is just not an option. We’re all too passionate about what we do to let it inhibit our drive.

TI: I feel stupid doing something else besides this.

ch36

 

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American Pastime

Most of my readers know how I could go on for days about the potential in Birmingham’s local bands/artists, and American Pastime is without a doubt, one of those bands. Thinking back, I don’t know what brought me to The Syndicate Lounge for a show that didn’t have any bands I had ever  heard of before, but there I was with my best friend and coworker Olyvia Kirk, listening to my first local pop-punk band. Little did I know that American Pastime, among others, would be so welcoming into what sometimes feels like their own world they’ve built. Any member of the band will offer up a humble, and somewhat belittling, opinion of their own sound, but it’s my opinion that American Pastime absolutely holds some of the best local talent that there is to offer, even with newly added members. From conversations I’ve held with fellow friends and fans of the band at various events including the successful latest house shows, many would agree that lead singer for Runner Up, Chuck and American Pastime, Mylon Robinson, is one of the most underrated singers we have in this scene. But given his raw talent that has been making an undeniable and at times, controversial, impact on the local pop-punk scene, I don’t see American Pastime flying under the radar for too much longer. Or, at least, I hope not. Olyvia and I spent the day with this band after months of following local happenings and came to an agreement that each member was genuinely kind and held a certain uniqueness to them that together formed an endless positive energy to be around. For anyone wanting to branch out to the local scene, please do yourself a favor, and start out with great bands like this that are constantly working to improve the scene and slowly build what I’m sure will be nothing less than empire in time.

From Left to Right: Austin Peak, Micah Lamb, Cody Peak, Julian Currie, and Mylon Robinson.

SMF Live: Go ahead and start out with the band history including previous members Christian and Evan.

Mylon Robinson (Vocals):We should call them men-bers. Me and a friend, Brad Thomas, started jamming and I met Micah. So, I was like “Hey, come play guitar because he sucks, and I suck, so we need someone who can actually play guitar.” So Micah was like “I suck too.” and I said “Great, you’ll fit right in, lets try this.” Micah and I jammed in that band for a while, and it was going absolutely nowhere, so we pretended that we were going to start another band when really we were just going to kick [Brad] out.

SMF: Do you want this in-

MR: No, it’s cool! He understands, we’ve talked about this.

Austin Peak (Bass): I’m sure he gets it now.

MR: Micah and I started writing acoustic stuff at my house.

Micah Lamb (Guitar and Vocals): I remember that first night we wrote, like, five songs in that one night. Two of them are on our EP.

MR: Later Micah and I decided that we didn’t really know how to sound like a full band…without being a full band. So we got all of our friends that we knew would be interested in participating in a band, and we all ended up living together about a month later. That’s how we ended up writing our EP, pretty much, was by sitting in the living room. Flash forward, now-

SMF: What happened to the men-bers?

MR: We decided that, due to time constraints from other priorities and engagements, that it would probably be better if we decided to go our separate ways since none could make practises. So, for the better of the band, we decided to move forward and add these two [directed to Cody and Austin] who have all of the time in the world to be playing with us.

SMF: What is everyone’s personal history with music? What introduced you to music and how have you evolved as an artist thus far?

MR: I’m not in my final form!

SMF: You’ll go last.

MR: Dang it!

Cody Peak (drums): Okay, I started out- how old are you in the sixth grade? Ten?

SMF: A little older, like, twelve.

CP: Okay, so at eleven, this drum set showed up at my house and Dad said “Figure it out.” So, we figured it out, Austin and I until he gave up.

AP: Yeah, I just decided to give up on that a long time ago.

CP: Middle school rolled around, and you have to decide what you’re going to take, so I picked band. I picked drums-

AP: Naturally.

CP: Naturally, of course, all the way through middle school and all of the way through high school. When college rolled around, I knew the guy that taught drum line at The University of Alabama, and he told me that he thought that I could make it, so I tried and made it. I played quads for one year at Alabama, studied music for one year, and that didn’t pan out because I realized I didn’t want to be a band director because I do not like children. So I quit my band directing major, and a friend in Tuscaloosa asked me “Do you want to be in a band?” “Yes.” but I should have asked what kind of band first, because then I found out it was a bar band and we played-

AP: Dave Matthews cover band!

CP: Awful songs, we played terrible music, Dave Matthews-

SMF: You weren’t kidding about the Dave Matthews thing, oh my god.

[Laughter]

CP: No, dead serious. It was fun because I got to play. That lasted for six months, then I was like “I’m tired of this” so I quit that, moved back home here to Gardendale, and met all of these guys that worked their way through old members and asked me if I wanted to play. This is the music I’ve always wanted to play, and now we’re here.

ML: We’re actually a Dave Matthews cover band.

MR: I was going to say that!

SMF: What about what you listen to?

MR: I got this.

CP: I bet Mylon can do this for me.

MR: I can! Okay, number one, All Time Low-

CP: Right.

MR: Dave Matthews.

[Laughter]

MR: State Champs and American Pastime.

CP: For about two weeks straight, I’ve been listening to American Pastime.

AP: You still listen to Maylene, don’t you?

CP: Yeah, I still listen to Maylene, and all of the old stuff like Underoath, Maylene…who else? I wish Fixed Til Tuesday was still a thing.

AP: I don’t.

CP: Well I hate you too. I grew up listening to the old stuff from Blink 182 and Green Day.

AP: Typical.

CP: Typical stuff, the same stuff everyone else in here is going to say.

MR: I got Flo Rida-

CP: I forgot, Yelawolf is a total influence. [Laughter] Seriously though, I forgot to add Emery, I love them.

ML: I bet I’m the biggest Emery fan in this entire room.

CP: You probably are, I really liked them back then.

ML: I was in middle school and high school band, and marched on drum line.

CP: There we go!

ML: My Dad was a youth pastor, and one Wednesday he told me I had to learn how to play bass in two hours, so I did and that’s how I started to teach myself how to play bass and guitar. I was in a really crappy hardcore-ish band in high school.

MR: Go ahead and tell them the name!

ML: Warriors Prevail.

[Slow clapping and laughter from Mylon]

ML: Julian was our number one fan but, obviously, that band didn’t pan out. After that, I was in a metal band, and we played three shows, we were called Seek It Like Silver, and that was a really fun band to be in but, again, it didn’t pan out. I moved out of state, and came back, and hooked up with Mylon-

MR: You know what he means.

SMF: Mhm.

Mylon: We hooked up all right!

AP: And then they made a band together!

MR: Out of all these guys, I’ve known Julian the longest, I’ve known Julian since my crappy hardcore band. Influence wise, I was really into the hardcore/metal scene back in the day, so [I listened to] bands like In Irons, and of course Fixed Til Tuesday was fantastic…stuff like that. As for now, I’ll listen to anything, Colbie Caillat is one of my favorites, and anything acoustic. The Story So Far is good-

CP: This Wild Life?

ML: This Wild Life is mediocre at best.

CP: Shut up.

ML: Just kidding, I love them. Mylon?

SMF: Give me your whole story like these guys since you didn’t with Runner Up, Chuck!

MR: It was all in the beginning when I was born in a hospital and my Mom smacked my ass-

ML: Those are side notes.

MR: Right, okay, we’ll get back on topic here. Growing up, my Dad was a youth pastor and he was like “Hey, you’re going to sing in church” So I went “Oh, okay, cool.” And everyone thinks I’m joking when I say this, but I wanted to be the next Usher when I was ten. I definitely wanted to be Usher.

ML: I’ve seen it.

MR: He has! So, I wanted to be the next Usher but that didn’t pan out, because apparently I’m white and can not sing that good.

SMF: Can you dance?

MR: I can’t do that, either! Maybe that was the biggest part, that I didn’t know how to dance. I couldn’t wear Timberlands and slide either, so I was screwed. I had to let that one burn.

AP: It’s cool, because you have me to teach you how to dance.

MR: Right, he’s going to teach me how to dance, so I might be Usher soon. Be on the lookout for it. solorecord.com.

[Laughter]

MR: I was in a bunch of random bands, we didn’t even have names-

ML: There’s one band that had a name that you have to mention.

MR: I hate you, I’ll get there. But anyway, I was in a lot of random bands that played a ton of house shows that consisted of stuff like us getting really drunk and seeing if we could write songs on stage.

SMF: How did that work out?

MR: I don’t remember most of it, so it must have been great! After that, I ended up moving to Gardendale from Leeds, and I joined a band called Outside, that’s the whole secret band, the one I don’t mention.

AP: That’s that good-good.

MR: I did that for…eight months? Nine months? And I just completely quit playing music for a while.

SMF: Why?

MR: I was in a relationship at the time, and the girl was like “music is not going to do anything for you” so she made me quit music, pretty much.

AP: You saw how that worked out, didn’t you?

MR: Yeah, don’t let girls tell you that you can’t play music. I met Micah, and we started writing, and here we are. I still want to be Usher, or Johnny Craig, I’ll take Johnny Craig now days! Johnny is bae…Johnny I love you, have my babies.

ML: Johnny, if you see this, I love you.

AP: Is it my turn?

MR: Sure, Mr. I’ve-never-been-in-a-band.

AP: My story is going to start off a lot like Cody’s did because we grew up together, because I’m sort of his brother or whatever. He was eleven, and I was ten, and a drum set showed up at our Dad’s house. I have no patience, so I quit after about a week. Middle school rolls around, and of course, everything I did had to involve something that he was doing so I joined the band. I thought about playing drums and ended up playing trumpet. I played the trumpet for four years, I stopped playing it after my first year of high school, because I figured out that it wasn’t cool, so I joined the drum line with Cody.

CP: I yelled at him a lot.

AP: Yes you did. But anything Cody did, I wanted to do. All through high school we had friends that wanted to play in bands, so we tried starting one a few times and it would never work out. For six years I’ve been teaching myself how to play, or mediocrely play, every instrument I can get my hands on.

CP: He can play the beginning to any song on guitar, but nothing passed that.

AP: Because I don’t have the patience to learn the whole thing.

ML: That’s right.

MR: Raise hell, praise Dale.

SMF: I said that earlier today at the Flea Mall & Antique Center, I’m so ashamed.

MR: Don’t be ashamed, embrace it.

SMF: You guys are rubbing off on me in the worst way possible.

MR: No, it’s good!

SMF: There was just this framed picture of Dale-

MR: I’ve seen that picture.

AP: So, anyway, I’ve been teaching myself anything I can get my hands on, and then I picked the easiest one to play, which is bass. And I’m still pretty bad at it. My music influences are the same as Cody’s, because I wanted to be him for some reason, so it’s State Champs, The Wonder Years-

ML: Nickelback.

AP: Nickleback for sure, Disturbed-

SMF: Wait, so you’re not joking about Nickelback?

MR: No, he’s not, unfortunately!

AP: I’m not going to lie, I’ve listened to a good bit of Nickelback.

[This is where I embarrassingly start laughing so hard that I get out of breath, partially due to the other members of American Pastime singing “Look at this graph“]

SMF: I can’t-

MR: White girl, she can’t even!

AP: For some reason, they thought I could play an instrument, so they asked “Do you want to be in American Pastime? We’ve got an opening,” and I said “Sure!”

Julian Currie (Guitar): Growing up, I had a really musical family anyway, and my Dad was always into hair metal from the 80’s. And he can play the guitar better than anybody I know. My grandmother was a piano teacher, so she made me learn how to read music. My grandfather saw how much I loved music, so he paid for me to take piano lessons. Then, eventually, I met our ex-member, Christian Nielsen, and formed a band called Valiant Flight-

[Everyone starts clapping and yelling]

MR: Best band ever!

JC: with Will A.J., who is now the drummer for Nothing Til Blood. But we actually headlined over Gideon at one point in some of those earlier shows, so that was fun. Apart from that, I know people say they listen to everything, but I literally listen to everything.

MR: I love country music, I’m just going to throw this one out there-

JC: I’ll listen to it, it’s not my favorite, but I’ll listen to it.

MR: I want to start a country band.

SMF: I want to be in the country band!

MR: Yes, please! Right now it’s just Evan from Meadows and I.

ML: What can she play?

MR: What do you want to play?

SMF: Anything.

MR: Deal, you’re in.

SMF: I can play, you know, the bucket that has a string-

MR: You’re so in, you just have to look like you have dip in your mouth, just stick your lip out.

SMF: That’s disgusting, I’m out.

MR: Dang it! We just lost our first member!

SMF: I was the coolest one, you fucked up!

AP: You lost your coolest member all ready.

MR: This bands not going anywhere.

SMF: I’m so sorry Julian.

JC: No, it’s cool, but I play around with a lot of electronic stuff right now. That’s just about it for me.

10

SMF: So what are some goals that you guys have as a band right now? Tell me about upcoming tours.

MR: We’re all going on tour with 50 Cent, and after that it’s Goodie Mob, are they even still a thing?

ML: Probably not.

MR: We actually have a tour at the end of this Summer.

SMF: What’s that tour called?

MR: Summer’s not dead!

[We all start cheering]

AP: Summer’s not dead, she’s sitting right here, we have it figured out!

[Collectively yell “Summer’s not dead!”]

MR: You guys are genius. We’re planning a few tours, but the only one confirmed is-

CP: Summer’s not dead.

MR: She’s just a lap ahead…good ole’ Dale Earnhardt joke.

CP: Dale’s not a joke.

[Silence]

MR: Some goals we have coming up are to record this new EP, and start sending it out to labels, so that maybe we can get a little support to go as far as our little hearts desire, and to keep going as long as people will listen to our terrible music.

ML: We’ll let them!

MR: We’ll let them, I’ll sing any song you want, it won’t be good…but I got you.

SMF: How will touring affect things at home?

ML: The band is like an organism that just kind of grows and evolves. Anytime you do anything with anybody, you’re going through life with these people for a while, but things change no matter what it is. Like, with the guys that were in the band, our relationship has changed, but it’s better because there was a lot of stress and pressure in that relationship that we didn’t need. I think it would be fun to be stuck in a van with these guys for five or six hours at a time.

AP: We did have a conflict last week on what song to cover, and we just flipped a coin!

MR: We typically flip a coin when we can’t decide on something. I guess relationship wise, as far as other people go, when we’re on tour distance can make the heart grow fonder or make it wander. So, if you’re in a relationship, it can completely so either way. I guess that’s my biggest fear.

 


“Raise hell, praise Dale.”

Super Bob

superbob6

SMF Live: You guys are from Washington DC-

Matt Santoro: Originally.

SMF: Where are you guys now, then? 

MS: We’re kind of spread out now, two of the guys live in South Carolina, one lives in Florida and I’m bouncing around.

SMF: How is the music scene where you’re from, and what differences have you seen throughout the country? 

MS: There’s a lot of differences, with the music scene where we’re from, there’s not a lot of rock music. There’s a lot of Indie, a lot of hipsters- a lot of rock bands won’t even go through the DC area. It’s different everywhere, rock music isn’t doing great, so it’s a little different everywhere you go. We stay out of major cities- [Matt pauses as I turn a page in my interview binder] you’ve got a lot of notes.

[Laughter]

SMF: So, what’s your personal history with music? 

MS: I listened to, pretty much exclusively, to rap music when I was young. Our guitar player, Adam, who’s my best friend, is how I got into rock music because, he needed a bass player, so he taught me how to play the bass and I started really enjoying it. Then we started looking for a singer…couldn’t find a singer, so he started singing but couldn’t write, so I was doing his writing. Eventually he was like “If you’re writing, then you’re going to sing,” but I couldn’t really sing but we decided to go with it and use my voice, which was somehow unique, so we went with it.

SMF: Do you have many rap influences? 

MS: Sure, anything you listen to growing up sticks with you, so now I sing a little, rap a little, and listen to everything from rock, rap, pop-

SMF: What kind of pop? 

MS: Anything, anything top 40, I like Taylor Swift a lot. We listen to everything. We’re definitely not one of those rock bands that’s only fucking rock, we don’t discriminate against music, if it’s good I’ll listen to it. Even if it’s a good country song I’ll listen to it.

SMF: What were your dreams and goals starting out, and how have they changed? 

MS: They really haven’t changed, everyone’s dreams and goals are to be the biggest rock band in the world. Obviously, we’ve gone about it a different way. We’ve been a full-time rock band for about four years without working any jobs, we’re independent, we have no record label or major management, we do everything ourselves. Our immediate goal is to get more help, so we can open some doors with some kind of management. Our long term goals are to get as big as we can get and to make as much money as you can make.

SMF: Did you grow up in a musical family? 

MS: No, my Father was an English major and my Mother was a cleaning lady.

SMF: What would your advise be for bands just starting out? 

MS: Don’t give up, it’s pretty hard, so don’t give up and don’t just follow what people say. You form a band and people will say “The goal of the band is to go out and get a record deal” so a lot of bands will go out and take an investor, purchase opportunities to get a record deal, and then they’ll sign a record deal and get lost in that record label. Once you sign, you don’t own your name, you don’t own your music.

SMF: Is that why you guys have held out some? 

MS: We haven’t held out, they don’t come looking for you, you have to actively pursue the record labels if that’s what you want. We just haven’t pursued it. Our goal has been to be self-sufficient and to build a career off of our live shows. We’re fortunate that we’re different enough to stand out at any show, whether that be good or bad, we stand out. We try to be polarizing so that people don’t go “Oh, Super Bob, eh.” you know? We want them to love us or fucking hate up, because that’s the kind of music that I like. My favorite rock bands are Manson, Tool, Deftones, those bands back then were fucking weird. And the first time I listened to Tool I hated them, but I went back and listened to them a couple of times and said “I actually love these guys” because I had never heard anything like it. We strive to be that kind of band, we are ourselves, so it’s good. Be yourself, don’t do what you think bands are “supposed” to do, I feel like rock and roll- there’s this mold for it, like you have to have so many bandanna’s tied to your pants, you have to write songs about drinking whiskey and you have to like drinking whiskey and write songs about strippers, because that’s “rock and roll.” I feel like people don’t break the mold enough. Rock and roll was never like that, rock and roll was the innovative music back in the day, but now it’s fallen way-side. Pop is more innovative, and rap is more innovative, and if you’re in a rock band you can’t try something because “that’s not rock and roll” and it didn’t used to be like that. So, be yourself, because everyone is going to tell you that you can’t do it.

superbob

SMF: What advice would you tell yourself if you could go back? 

MS: [Pause] That’s a really good question, I’ve never heard that question before…looking back at what we’ve done, I wouldn’t really change anything that we’ve done. Obviously I would fill myself in on some things that took me a little while to learn, but most decisions we’ve made I’m comfortable with, from our purchases of vehicles, to where we tour, to how we’ve built our live show. I don’t think I would change anything we’ve done, obviously we could have done it quicker had I had the knowledge I do now, so I’d want to sit down and have, like, a two hour conversation with myself.

SMF: What were you doing before Super Bob? 

MS: Not much, really, we’ve been doing this for about ten years now. Before that I wasn’t doing anything, I didn’t have money, aspirations, or goals, so that’s been our focus for the last decade.

SMF: What is it that you like most and least about what you do? 

MS: Least, the driving, we’re on the road and we play about two-hundred and thirty days out of the year. What I like the most about it is absolute freedom, we’re our own bosses, nobody tells us what to do and it’s really nice.

SMF: How was it shooting recent videos like “Killer” 

MS: Video’s are fun, with the video for “Superfly” the girl that’s in it used to own a club we played in at Winchester. We got her to do the video and to bring her bartenders with her, so that was pretty easy, and we shot it in Winchester, Virginia. The video for “Freak” was shot in Savanna, Georgia and the girl in that video was my girlfriend at the time. And the “Killer” video, we also shot in Savanna at a water reclamation plant, so that was interesting.

SMF: We’ve been wanting to go to Savanna. 

MS: Really, it’s so nice!

SMF: I’ve heard that it’s really pretty. 

MS: It is really pretty!

Olyvia Kirk: I’ve been there once. 

SMF: I lived in Georgia for a while and never even went. 

MS: I lived there for a couple of months, and it was really nice, it’s a really cool town.

SMF: So, this is the album release tour, how has this album been different from other’s you’ve released so far? 

MS: This is album release, it’s been out for about two months now, but it’s our best album yet. We really found our sound in our last album with some dub-step stuff, and electronics, and on the new record we wanted to continue with that sound but go back over it lyrically a bit more aggressively, maybe a little bit more like how rock should be.

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Maid Myriad

When I begin to think of how I originally found out about the Kaleidoscope Rock band, Maid Myriad, I remember that it started when I simply followed Jeff “JCK” Klemm on Instagram a very, very, long time ago, and it continues to stun me how powerful social media can be. But because so much time has passed, I can’t tell you who followed who first or even how a woman in Alabama (before I was even involved in the music scene) had connected with an indie musician in Ohio, much less how we had managed to kept in touch through various forms of social media and phone calls for so long, but I wasn’t about to start questioning it. But here I am today, thanking my lucky stars, that through something so simple as an iPhone app I had gained the opportunity to meet this phenomenal group of people. Some odd combination of fate, pestering them enough to revisit Birmingham, and pure luck landed Olyvia and I sitting in The Syndicate Lounge on April 26th waiting for Maid Myriad to arrive, and when I saw Jeff walk through that door I was so beyond excited it would be embarrassing to admit. A little shorter in person than I had imagined, but none-the-less he was there, about to play a show alongside his two fellow band mates, Mario and Greg, with the co-headlining band, The Fine Constant and Alabama’s very own Steels. Originally, I had bought tickets for Marilyn Manson that night before the tour date had been released for Maid Myriad, but again through coincidental happenings, everything fell into place. The bands tour through the country, laying their heads wherever they can in the homes of welcoming friends, and I was happy to be that friend for that night. All we had to offer was a completely empty spare bedroom and feline companions for the night, but we received nothing but kind thanks in return. Not only have I been blown away by them personally, I have been floored by the amount of raw talent that flows like electricity from each member of this band, creating a unique sound unmatched by any other indie artists I’ve met so far. “With Haste On Its Breath” is an album I can listen to over and over again, and never get tired of, because each time listening to a track offers a new experience. I can listen to it and notice something different each time whether that be through the “experimental” rhythm section or through Jeff’s transcending, romanticized, lyrics that stand as the perfect example of who he is. Maid Myriad leaves me speechless, but I will say I personally, that wish them all the best on their continuous journey of sharing their undeniable art with the rest of the country and I will plan a trip to Ohio myself if that’s what it takes to see this band play again in the not-so-distant future, because I can’t stand to even think about not seeing these guys for another year or so. Nothing I’ve ever experienced has brought so many profound people into my life like music has, and I will never be able to express the warmth in my heart that brings me. Maid Myriad, my doors are always open, and I hope you soon will get the recognition that you truly deserve.

,Summer Ferlisi

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SMF Live: What is the music scene like in Ohio? What differences do you see from across the country and what do you think causes these differences? 

Jeff “JCK” Klemm: The Ohio scene really has this sense of community. The Akron music scene is growing stronger and stronger every day, and right now, it’s pretty fucking strong. The music scene is great out there. There isn’t a lot to do in Ohio, so we all just make bands, there’s a lot of collaboration and that’s really nice. Whereas, with bigger cities, there’s a lot of competition. Smaller cities like Akron and Cleveland have that sense of community that makes the scene stronger.

SMF: How has this tour been different than others you’ve been on?

JCK: This is the first tour with our full length out, and this is the first tour that we are working with a booking agent. Typically, I book all of the shows for Maid Myriad, “historically” I’ve done all of the booking for almost every show we’ve ever done.

SMF: Does that really just help take the load off then? 

JCK: It most definitely helps take the load off. This is also the first tour we’ve ever done with another band. We’ve done a few runs with various bands but never a full six week run, co-headlining, tour with another band.

SMF: How did you guys find out about them? 

JCK: It was strange, the booking agent we were working with basically just put out a call that said “Maid Myriad is going on a six week run, who would like to do a run with them?” We were asking bands, but six weeks is a long time being out of work, spending money on food, and that sort of thing, so it’s really tough to commit. We didn’t meet The Fine Constant until the first night of the tour. It was kind of like a blind date, well, it was totally a blind date except you can’t just pay for the dinner and fucking leave.

SMF: [Laughter] Right, it’s a blind date that goes on for six weeks.

JCK: But it’s gone super-swimmingly, they all are super cool, and I love their band. Their music is really sweet. Even though our bands are different stylistically, it still meshes well, in my opinion.

SMF: How was it for you filling in for Wings Denied? 

JCK: That was fun! That was a really good time, I’ve been friends with those guys for a while, we just traded shows across the country and being in the indie music scene it’s small enough where you’re like “Fuck, I need to fill in a date,” so you hit up all of your friends. So we’ve hooked them up with shows and they’ve hooked us up with shows. I’ve slept on their floor and they’ve slept on my floor, you know? Their singer couldn’t get into the country, so they asked me to do it, and I was excited because I haven’t done a show without a guitar in ten years or so. I’ve always been behind a guitar singing and playing, so without the guitar at first it was like “What do I do with my hands?” But it was really fun, and it let me explore the stage space a lot more. And I got to climb on shit, which was fun. With all the venues that have rafters, with Maid Myriad I only get to grab onto it for, like, a second in between my guitar work once or twice but with Wings Denied I was like “I’m about to climb on this for five full minutes now.” So, anyway, that was fun, it was a good tour. Those guys are super awesome, they’re working on a new record right now with their real singer, and I heard some of the tracks and it’s going to be so sweet.

SMF: So, first off, I was super impressed by the amount of pure instrumental work that was in the set. How have people responded to that rather than more strict singer/songwriter material? 

JCK: Well, historically Maid Myriad has been more singer/songwriter-y, singer/songwriter-esk? Anyway, it’s been songs with the band, but now we’re getting kind of more into the progressive elements of things and we like vamping on stuff. We did a new instrumental song last night, and I assume that’s what you’re talking about, and that actually is not quite finished. It was a six to seven minute opus, but we just condensed it to about three minutes for this tour because we still wanted to play it, we wanted to still do that sort of instrumental thing but the vocals aren’t finished for the full piece yet.

SMF: How has it been focusing more on the instrumental side of things rather than lyrics, or do you keep up a good balance?

JCK: There’s no method. If I’m sitting there playing guitar and play something cool, and write it into something but can’t put vocals to it, then I wont. But my primary, main, focus [are] songs with lyrics and melodies. However, I love instrumental music and I’m sure with this next record we’re going to have some instrumental interludes, because I know with the record we just released, “With Haste On Its Breath” there’s a couple of instrumental interludes, not nearly as much as I wanted, but we just had too many songs, and we weren’t about to throw in instrumental interludes just to fucking do it.

SMF: What’s going on with the next album then? 

JCK: Well, I have a solo record that I’m working on, and that is eighty-percent completed. I just have to track vocals for it. That is very just singer/songwriter-y. It’s not heavy enough to be Maid Myriad, and it’s not light enough to merit as an acoustic thing. We get home May 23rd, that [solo album] will be done in July, and then once July hits we’re just going to go full steam into writing the next Maid Myriad album. We all ready have four songs for it, and I have a ton of cool ideas we just haven’t been able to flesh out in the band.

SMF: Have you thought of any names for the album? 

JCK: Nope.

SMF: You guys are a three-piece now, do you think it would be easier with more members to take the load off? Has touring as a three-piece held you back from the bands progression at all? 

JCK: It’s funny because Maid Myriad has always been a four piece, or at least imagined as a four piece, so typically there’s a second guitar player. When I tracked the record I had two guitar parts that I was playing. We did tour as a four piece a bunch of times but it’s so much easier with just three people and dealing with three schedules. It ends up heavier as a three-piece for some reason, and the amount of compliments we received as a four-piece in the amount of compliments we’ve received as a three-piece is largely outweighed. We just work so well together and it lets the rhythm section breathe. I have to do a lot more with my fingers on guitar but it definitely keeps my chops up. So, I like the three-piece, I wouldn’t rule out adding another guitar player, we just haven’t found that guy. We do have a guy in Akron that I love, who I always call if we need, like when we do our home show we definitely need him on stage for three or four songs. In our CD release show, he played seven in the twelve songs with us. But he can’t tour, and we like our trio. So, probably, the next record is going to be written with just a trio in mind.

SMF: Your lyrics are, obviously, incredibly heartfelt  so what is it like for you to get what’s in your head out and onto paper? 

JCK: Again, there’s no method-

SMF: I also saw one of your Facebook posts asking “Does an artist’s art define them as a person?” How would you answer that question? 

JCK: I never chimed in on that post. I posted it and just let everybody go at it.

SMF: I didn’t take a chance to read the comments. 

JCK: I posted it and, like, eighty comments later I chimed in because, you know, I take my art very seriously. I legitimately mean what I say, and I’ve felt these feelings that I wrote down at one point. But a song like “In Circle” is very pissed off, but I don’t live my life being very vengeful, but I definitely felt those feelings at that time. And when I perform that live, I have to recall that because I don’t give a shell of a performance or a shell of emotions, I revisit them and actually feel those feelings onstage. I try giving it my all every single night. [Pauses] It’s kind of emotionally draining, but I don’t want to be a robot.

SMF: What’s your history of writing?

JCK: I’ve always written, I started writing probably in high school. I started writing stories, I started writing poetry, and then I fell in love in high school. Then it was like a poem at least every two days and I’d give it to my girlfriend and she’d write poetry back. I’m a very openly romantic type of person, and I don’t care what anybody says, I’m just going to live my life like that. If I like you I’m going to write about you, and if I don’t like you, I’m going to write about you.

SMF: Two sides to every coin!

JCK: Exactly, so I’ve always written stories and I definitely took a lot of writing classes in college. My professors pushed me to be part of the writing and poetry scene, which I sort of joined but I was always more interested in the art of putting poetry into song. I’d say “I have this guitar, can I just play my poem?” In a lot of poetry slams they were like “No, it’s strictly poetry!” so in return I was like “Okay, I got something for this, fuck you!”

SMF: We did stuff like that in high school but always welcomed guitars. Spoken word is it’s own beast, but however you feel like you need to get it out, get it out whether you’re yelling or strumming along with a guitar. You shouldn’t limit people. 

JCK: I agree. So, back to the lyrics thing in general, I spend a lot of time on my lyrics.

SMF: Do you have notebooks? 

JCK: I actually got rid of my paper notebooks. The only reason why is because, it’s like I have severe ADHD, as you can tell from us sitting here, and my hands have never been able to keep up with my thought process. So I’ll be thinking things and I have to write so fast to the point that my hand hurts, and my handwriting is completely illegible, and I know what I wrote at that point but when I go back to it, I’m like “Fuck, I have no idea what this says.” So now I actually have an app on my phone that is my notebook. I have it all synced so it’s up in my iCloud and it’s so much easier to type. But this talk-to-text thing, I’ll literally just hit start and go-go-go-go-go, it’s really revolutionized my writing.

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SMF: How have you used solo work compared to the band as a means of a creative outlet? 

JCK: Maid Myriad has a lot of weird music elements to it, like different time signatures, riffs, and heavy drums and a lot of rhythm exploration. But my solo stuff is very simple and straight forward, it’s just like poetry, and really just an exploration of the voice. I actually started a band called Jeff Klemm & The Letters, and my solo stuff has always been me with my guitar or me with my piano, and it’s just super bare-bones, super laid-back, but you can’t really play that live. I can, and I have, and I will but it’s so soft, and so passive, that people don’t actively listen to it sometimes. You can’t go out to a bar and have me play my super sad, soft, songs or you’d get booed off stage. Which is fine, I just won’t play there, but the new band is straight rock-pop songs. It’s definitely my voice, I’m not changing my voice for anything, and it’s definitely my style of writing, but it’s very minimalist.

SMF: Take me through your entire musical background. What was your first favorite band or was your family into music when you were growing up? 

JCK: I grew up in theatre. My Mother and Father were always in plays, mostly together, so it was always us going to play rehearsals [and I] would be hanging out, running around, so it was a lot of musical theatre growing up. Then my parents were divorced, and my Dad was always into those Columbia House ten CD’s for a penny. He always loved music and played around with the guitar, he used to sing Beatles songs to me all of the time, so he would collect all of these CD’s and he’d be like “Okay, I only picked seven, what do you want?” and I’d go “Well, what’s that one with the naked baby on the cover?” So a lot of my early musical influences came from popular music in the 90’s. My Dad loved rock n’ roll, so I got into that type of stuff, and when my parents got divorced my Mom was just all about female singers. Power-house, I’m a strong woman, music. And I would have to ride around in the car, but that’s what I liked too, I had to! It was a lot of Mariah Carey, Alanis Morissette, a lot of the early 90’s pop singers, which I still fucking love and I don’t care. I would still sing along to Mariah Carey, she is an incredible singer. As for when I started finding music on my own, it was definitely the grunge and punk stuff. The first CD I ever bought, the first cassette I ever bought, was Michael Jackson and he’s still one of my all-time favorites. I own everything he’s ever done. He was just such a good singer, and such a good performer, and I think he meant what he said too. You may not agree with his personal life, or any other of that bullshit, but his art stands for itself and will stand through the test of time. But the second CD I received and ingested would be Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and that record totally changed my life. It was loud and obnoxious but, like, pop like The Beatles but on drugs…on the other type of drugs. It was loud, angry, and pissed off, and I fucking loved it so from there with Michael Jackson, The Beatles, and all of the female singers I started getting pissed off and, of course, punk and grunge came to the rescue. I found The Ramones and The Clash in my Dad’s CD collection and was like “What the fuck is this?” and of course Green Day. So I went from that stuff and into pop punk like New Found Glory, Saves The Day, and all of those late 90’s early 2000’s bands. Then I started going into 80’s hardcore punk, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Bouncing Souls, Bad Religion…I fucking love punk. I had a mohawk, it was crazy, in high school my hair was every color imaginable. The punk stuff was great, and from there I got into metal, there are two sides and there has always been two sides to my creative stuff and creative interest’s. The heavy stuff and then the straight singer/songwriter.

SMF: What were your goals before getting into music and how have they now changed? 

JCK: I wanted to be an actor, I wanted to do theatre, and then I wanted to be a professional skateboarder. Actually, I was really good at skateboarding, I almost got sponsored when I was fourteen. However, I was also really into music and I had a bass guitar, and it sucked whenever the sun went down and I had fractured my wrist or hurt myself and I couldn’t play the guitar. So I made a choice between skateboarding and music, and music won.

SMF: So, what are your goals now? 

JCK: To keep doing this, to keep creating art, putting out new records, putting out new songs, and just traveling and performing them. I love Maid Myriad, and I love performing with this band, this band is my baby. However, I do have the solo stuff, so whichever I can take on the road. I love traveling, I love meeting new people, I love sleeping on floors, and meeting peoples pets. So, goals for this year are to release my solo album, that and to track other solo stuff. This is with the band but I want another one just me and an acoustic guitar, no bells or whistles, me sitting in a room playing songs. Then work on Maid Myriad stuff.

SMF: Are you self taught? 

JCK: I took bass lessons from a guitar player in Ohio who used to play with Joe Walsh from The Eagles! Joe Walsh is from Ohio and one of his old guitar players taught lessons, and I didn’t know that until I signed up. So I probably took lessons with him for a year and then I said “Okay, I know the cords, I know how to play, I understand the technique so I’m learning the rest on my own.” From there I always played bass but I switched to guitar, because it’s so much easier to write songs with, and that is what interests me. I saw that “Live! Tonight! Sold out!” tape by Nirvana and just watching Kurt Cobain up there with his guitar, I was like “That’s what I want to do, I don’t want to fucking play bass anymore.” So I learned how to play guitar by playing along to Nirvana songs, The Clash, and to Radiohead. I’ve been faking it ever since.

SMF: You don’t have to answer this one, because it can be weird one-on-one like this, but how have your relationships with friends, family, lovers, or even band mates changed as the band progresses?

JCK: Well, it is extraordinarily hard to keep any steady, solid, relationship when you’re never home. So when I made the decision to tour full time, or at least as much as possible, it certainly affected my personal relationships. It’s ruined a lot of relationships just because I’m not there. And it sucks that I don’t get to see my family as much as I’ve wanted to.

SMF: I love stuff I get to see on Facebook with your family, it’s so cute. 

JCK: My family rules, I’m very lucky to have the family that I have, they’ve all been very supportive and my entire family is musical. My brother is a very accomplished piano player, and he was actually the drummer for me for about five or six years. My little sister is a dancer, so music just runs through her fucking veins, every movement that she makes, even in normal life is rhythmically perfect. It’s so emotional, every time I watch her dance, I’m just balling because it’s so expressive and she’s so melodic in her movements that it’s fucking beautiful. And then my younger brother, Andrew, he definitely wants to pursue music, and he has perfect pitch. I’m really lucky to have the family that I do, they’re all so supportive and understanding, for instance in this tour alone I will have missed my brother’s senior recital, Andrew playing the lead in the musical, I’ll miss my sister’s recital, and my brother’s fiance’s graduation.

[We get cut off from the interview by unrelated topics]

SMF: Awesome, we’ve been here for about fourty-five minutes now. 

JCK: Is that a long time for an interview?

SMF: It just depends, it can be fifteen minutes or a few hours, but it varies based off of how well you mesh with that person. So, anyway, how was your music evolved? 

JCK: The first record we released under Maid Myriad was in 2007 and it’s a five-song EP called “Embrace” and it’s very straight forward rock-pop stuff. Then in 2010 we released, well, 2010 was really weird. I was working on three simultaneous albums, which have now evolved. One was called “Fools Delight” which is like the sugary pop songs, and then the second one was called “These Fragile Bones” which was all acoustic based, organic, and the third one was called “With Haste On Its Breath” and that was, like, the angry, heavy, stuff. All three of them were supposed to be a series of EP’s, and then the fourth one would just be a collection of all three of them, and that would be the full length. That was the first one, and we released it in December of 2010, and then my brother passed away, so then I was in total writers block and I didn’t want to do anything for six months. So I kind of dropped the ball on that one. “Fools Delight” stood on its own as a record, and I never intended that, you can’t find it anymore because I deleted it from existence. Then I meshed them all together for the full length, “With Haste On Its Breath” but it definitely has evolved. If you listen to “Embrace” and then to “With Haste On Its Breath” is doesn’t even sound like the same band, and it’s just me evolving as an artist. Plus, always having Greg play drums will add prog qualities to it, because he’s just so good on drums.

Steels

When interviewing the previously featured band, Loose Ends, I found out that Steels would be playing along side them at The High Note. And, with no set-in-stone plans for my birthday, I figured why not spend it doing what I love with such an incredibly talented group such as Steels. To put into words how much I admire the blues rock sound of Steels would be nearly impossible, but in an attempt to do so, I’ll simply say I have been listening to their EP “On the Other Side” non stop since receiving that as part of a birthday gift from the band. Steels holds some of the greatest potential that I’ve seen coming from Alabama, and I can’t begin to imagine how amazing their full length, with an undecided release date, will be. Through working with musicians, you run into many “interesting” personalities, but each individual of the band was nothing less than kind and open throughout their time with us, and I sincerely hope SMF Live will continue to work with Steels as their undeniable path to the top continues.

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SMF Live: What were you guys doing prior to Steels, and how did you all come together? 

Justin West (Bass): It’s kind of a crazy story, me and Scooter were playing in a three-piece band with Bradley Williams, and we were playing until Bradley decided he was going to move to Ohio, settle down, and do a 9-5 job. We stopped playing until Scooter hit Chad up, and Chad was in Atlanta, but he just started coming out here.

D Charles “Chad” Robinson (Vocals/Guitar): They had studio time booked with the guy that had recorded my first band, so Scooter asked me if I wanted to come sing on the EP, and I went to Tuscaloosa one time, and that was it. We tried to make it work with me living in Georgia, but it just wasn’t happening, so last January I moved out here. Brett had all ready joined the band, Scooter was still playing with us but it didn’t really work out, so we asked him to be our manager. We got Gunner and that’s when things really began to come together last October.

SMF: How has your sound evolved over time with changing members of the band? 

Brett Mitchell (Guitar): It’s constantly evolving.

JW: I think everyone has a different perspective on it too, when the band started as a three-piece it was a lot more soul and slowed down, then we sped it up and began to write riffs over it.

CR: Once we got Brett, that really freed me up to write more complicated and interesting guitar parts. I think the last batch of songs on our EP are more soulful, and almost retro, to an extent. Now we’re really focused on taking riffs and guitar parts to help us not be enclosed to the whole singer/songwriter thing. Now we’ve got songs coming from different kinds of inspiration, whether it’s riffs or just a melody, and they all end up different. You have these different flavor songs, so more will be like singer/songwriter songs and others like “Mountain” is very driven and riff-based. It’s experimenting, really.

SMF: How supportive have people been at home and how was it for you coming from Georgia? 

CR: Good, it’s been different getting our foot in the door out here, but we’ve had help from the guys in different bands, like Loose Ends. I came from a band that didn’t necessarily have the best reputation.

SMF: Why? 

CR: Because, we were just bastards, we went hard. But thankfully I had a lot of friends that pointed out the error of my ways, so everyone in Atlanta has been supportive.

JW: It’s just like having two home bases, so it’s cool!

CR: Then, we have friends from Birmingham coming to Tuscaloosa to see us, but we’re really working to get the college crowd to actually come out to shows. The bar scene is a little crazy, so we’ll probably just come up with a cover set.

SMF: What would you cover? 

JW: Oh god [the band begins listing countless artists and songs] There’s so many songs, and that’s probably the reason why we haven’t sat down and done it, is because we end up like this.

CR: We sit down and we’ll have forty new songs.

SMF: I vote for, like, getting into some Duane Allman. 

CR: We’ve considered that, someone told us that we reminded them of The Allman Brothers, I’d love to do “Soulshine” or something like that.

SMF: Obviously, a big goal for an artist in your genre in Alabama, would be to make it somewhere like Muscle Shoals or something along those lines, so what are some goals for the band? 

CR: We have all talked about recording at Muscle Shoals, and that would be awesome, there’s a lot of history there. But for right now we’re really focused in on getting a fan base. We feel like we can become one of the bigger and best bands in Alabama, and that’s what we want to do. We want to be a full time band, that’s what we’re striving for, so we’re trying to make connections, get into venues, and meet with people like you that are very involved in the scene and pushing things forward. Birmingham is the next place, and we feel like if we keep working really hard and pushing to try to be the best musicians that we can be, then hopefully we can get somewhere with it. This is all I want to do, I live in Alabama to do this, I think all of us are really proud of what we’ve created in the past year and just want to see it grow.

SMF: “On the Other Side” is the EP, so when can we be expecting a full length? 

CR: No idea.

SMF: Has there been any writing going on? 

JW: We’ve got a couple of songs, but it’ll probably be out sometime next year.

CR: Probably the Fall?

JW: I was thinking of the beginning of the year.

CR: We really haven’t discussed it. We’ve been working on a song we’re all pretty satisfied with that’s a pretty big departure from where we’re at right now.

JW: It’s transposed from “Dream State” from “On the Other Side.”

CR: Right, we just turned that into a full song, other than that we have a board full of half riffs and a lifetime of material we need to work on.