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.


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.


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.




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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

Loose Ends

The more time I spend with local bands and musicians, such as Birmingham’s very own pop punk band Loose Ends, it hits me that these are people growing from a rich and meaningful history of Alabama’s music scene that has continuously lit fires inside of the hearts of each one of us. I originally met the band at a show at The Syndicate Lounge, I forget how I landed there being as I had never heard of any of the bands from that night before, but I grabbed Olyvia and we took off to see what The Syndicate Lounge and local pop punk bands were offering. In a way, Loose Ends, among others, was one of the very first bands that introduced me to this pop punk scene I was unfamiliar with, and I am forever thankful. This scene has embraced me with kindness and honesty. As I talk with the band, I learn more about their past including deceased loved ones and friends that were a heavy influence among the scene, constant personal battles of doubting and realizing their own life’s worth, and the meaning of what it feels like to fight for something you love. To fight for what you call home. I myself have spent countless hours, conversations, and messages for the sake of defending Birmingham’s scene, and meeting up with other’s who share that passion was a breath of fresh air. I’ve seen Loose Ends since then, and the show was involved with Darron Trussell’s wonderful sense of humor, and consistent energy from his fellow band mates, including their newest member Nick Simmons who famously has James Spann tattooed on his arm. Olyvia, SMF Live’s head photographer, and I arrive at Dillon Melancon’s home, where we sit and discuss what’s been going on for the band recently. Loose Ends is exactly what I look for when it comes to local pop punk, and I strongly encourage you to get a sense of feel of that for yourself with their latest EP “Can’t Win For Losing” jokingly known as the “most punk-rock coaster you’ll ever own.” I would have never thought smaller bands as the one’s I’ve interviewed here would have created such a strong wave of appreciation inside of me, and I would have thought wrong. Thank you, Loose Ends and fellow local bands, for allowing me to feel like family here, you will never know how much I have needed that.
With love,
Summer Ferlisi
SMF Live: What’s the history of the band, how long have you guys been together, and where are you from? 
Darron “Bama” Trussell (Vocals and Guitar): We started out almost two years ago now. I’m from Sylacauga, Alabama, Dillon is from New Orleans but he lives here in Alabaster.
Ivy Hyche (Vocals and Bass): I’m from Bessemer.
DT: And Nick is from Mexico. [laughs]
Nick Simmons (Guitar): I’m from here.
DT: We’ve actually done a lot of changing, we started out as a five piece, and my little brother played bass. I was kind of the founding member and then got another guy to play guitar. The guy that was playing guitar basically said “Hey, I know someone that plays drums,” which was Dillon, and Dillon said “I know this guy who sings,” which was Ivy. We all got together and started playing, and the other two guys just didn’t work out.
Dillon Melancon (Drums): That was Sandcastles, which was the name of our first band.
DT: We started out as Sandcastles, and then changed our name to Loose Ends, became a three piece, and completely changed our sound. That was about a year and a half ago now. We had a hiatus for a couple of months until the three of us got together, played some shows, and got the ball rolling. Then, last week we knew it would benefit us to add in a second guitar player, and that’s when Nick came in.
SMF: How has your sound evolved from Sandcastles to Loose Ends? 
DT: Sandcastles, we were more like A Day to Remember or-
DM: It was more breakdown-y pop punk, like City Lights.
DT: It sounded like Major League, City Lights, and that kind of stuff. That was because everyone, with the exception of me, came from heavy bands. Dillon was in death-metal and hardcore bands, and Ivy was in really heavy bands, but when we met they were still really heavy and I wasn’t so the sound came out weird, it wasn’t us, it felt forced. We had a band argument, which is probably the best way to put it, and later the three of us got back together and started jamming and evolved. When we started [back as Loose Ends] we sounded like the early 2000’s, like Blink 182, pop punk. We became, I can’t really put a finger on what we sound like now, it’s just really driven rock while being very emotional about it.
DM: Sad, but rad!
IH: We’re really pissed off about how sad we are.
DM: Now, our music isn’t as forced as it once was, now everything that we write feels like it has meaning.
DT: Before, I’d write a song and say “Hey, let’s play this,” whereas now i’ll just say “I have this cool idea,” and everything just kind of happens.
 DM: Bama will bring a beginning to a song, and we’ll start playing that, and keep up with how it feels. That’s how we write our songs. I don’t want to say our songs are written by accident, but for a lack of better words, they were written by accident and then we tweak it.
SMF: Nick, how did you come in? 
NS: Well, Dillon and I have known each other for years. I was riding motorcycles with my Dad a couple of weeks ago, and I ran into Dillon and Ivy at Starbucks-
DM: Dude, no, don’t tell them that. We aren’t white girls, tell them you ran into us at a bar!
NS: Well, they were out at the jogging track and I ran into them there!
SMF: You guys were at the gym lifting weights. 
DT: There you go, they were getting tour ready at the gym!
NS: So, I ran into them, and we were talking, and I don’t even know how it got brought up but he was like “We’re looking for a new guitarist,” so I said “I’ll play,” but I thought it was one of those things that wouldn’t actually happen.
DM: The next day he sent me a text saying “It was good getting to see you, let me know if you guys want to get together and jam.”
DT: I had known Nick because he had totally fan-girled over my last band.
NS: Thanks, man.
DT: And look at you now!
NS: They said “We’re going to Huntsville, just come with us,” so I went and hung out with them in the van and got to know these two guys [Ivy and Darron] a little better. It just clicked from the time I walked into the door.
DM: As soon as he walked through the door there was a good energy.
SMF: Lets touch base on Birmingham’s music scene. 
DT: Nice!
DM: No.
SMF: Because, Darron, you’ve always seemed very adamant about it. 
DT: I’m particularly adamant about the Birmingham scene, maybe so more than everyone else in the band, because I come from that “old scene” that everyone talks about. I was in a band called Jacket when I was maybe sixteen, which was ten years ago, so that’s how I know what people are talking about when they go into that old scene that was here. I don’t think the music of the music scene is what killed it, it’s mostly the promoters and people just trying to make money off of it, that have ruined the music scene.
DM: The attitudes.
DT: There’s a lot of attitudes, a lot of name calling, but I personally will do whatever it takes to help out any bands here in this scene. I book shows for multiple bands, I let bands stay at my house, and anytime somebody comes to me with a question I’ll always offer help because that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about helping each other and the Birmingham scene gets a real bad rep for whatever reason and it tends to hit me personally, because there are a lot of people out here really busting ass and putting their whole heart and soul into it. Just for people to be like “You should probably just skip over it and go to Atlanta,” is really disrespectful to every person here that is busting ass and trying to make this work. There’s a lot of new cool venues opening up, and they’re opening up because the scene is getting bigger. I hold the scene really close, because it’s where we’re from, but it’s kind of a double edged sword. A lot of times we’re proud of it, a lot of times we’re not, but it’s still ours. Like a little brother, you can talk shit about it, but nobody else can.
SMF: I’m from Georgia, and here it feels like a big welcoming family, and I’ve never felt that anywhere else before. 

The Colossal Heads

It’s hard living in Birmingham and going to a show that doesn’t have the best turn out, especially seeing it if it’s making a first impression with someone or a group, but I’ll be damned if I won’t be there to make them feel like there’s hope still left for us here. There’s a seemingly endless supply of talented musicians with equally enthusiastic supporters, but somehow in the mix, it turns into this fight like pulling a tooth out of a tigers mouth to get people to come out to a show! I can’t begin to tell you about the wonderful memories and even more wonderful relationships that have blossomed from showing up to a $5 show of mostly of bands I’ve never heard before, and I probably will never be able to wrap my head around why someone wouldn’t spend $5-7 in order to hear raw, heartfelt, music like I heard tonight.

Previous to this night at The High Note I had never heard of The Colossal Heads, a three piece punk/grunge band from New Orleans, but when they began to play the entire room was captivated. Mind you, I came to the show with every intention of simply being able to sit back and take it all in for what it was, but that was before the realization of how strong of a group this was and that I’d always be kicking myself if I let them slip through my fingers. So, as “unprepared” as I may have been, I somehow managed to get them to stay with me for a short interview before everyone called it a night. Much thanks to my wing-man of the night, Rachel Thornton, with the iPhone that saved me and the interview. Like I said, I was unprepared, but my stubborn ass wasn’t about to settle for any other interview other than the old fashioned face-to-face way of doing things, something SMF Live has yet to compromise.


SMF Live: What’s a little history behind the band, are you all the original members? 

Tony Italiano (Lead Vocals and Guitar): We are the original members and probably the only members that will ever be in the band.

Danny Lester (Bass and Backing Vocals): We’ve all agreed if anything happens to where one of us is leaving, this whole thing is done.

SMF Live: How long have you been together now? 

Kyle Carroll (Drums): Almost two years since we started playing.

SMF Live: So what was going on previously to the band? 

DL: We were all doing pointless stuff.

TI: I was in a few bands at home, doing session work, sitting in a lot of situations in New Orleans. New Orleans is kinda give and take, everybody knows everybody, it’s a small city. Me and Danny had played in a band a year or two prior to this one for a very brief time called Grenade Man, a band he had started, and I had come in playing bass and I did some guitar but our heads were just in different places so it really didn’t work. I met Kyle through a bar owner I knew from this place called Banks Street Bar. We had tried to get something off of the ground with the owner, but it didn’t work out. Again everyone’s head wasn’t in the right place. But fate, so to speak, brought us back together in one band.

SMF: What inspires your sound? 

DL: Marijuana

KC: Porno

TI: Hunger…old Xanax.

KC: We all listen to different types of music and that’s kind of why it’s hard to put a label on our sound, but that may be because we’re on the inside of it.

DL: I think we’ve finally come down to desert punk grunge.

KC: That’s what we settled on. We all listen to different types of music and we all come from completely different backgrounds. Sometimes Danny can put something on and Tony and I will hate it or I can put it on and Danny and Tony will hate it-

TI: Either way I usually hate it.

DL: If it’s not Oasis Tony hates it!

TI: If it’s not British then…fuck it.



SMF: What was your first big [impression] in music? 

DL: Well the first show I ever went to was Red Hot Chili Peppers and Snoop Dog at the New Orleans arena and that changed my life. Ever since then I said “Fuck it, I need to play music.” So I had a guitar and I learned all of John Fruscianti’s parts from Chili Peppers and built my own sound out of that. I taught myself how to play so I can’t read a shit lick of music. I think all of us are self taught honestly-

KC: Well, I took lessons for a couple of years to [learn] to read music and stuff like that. I can still read it, but if you can’t read drum music then you can’t read anything else! Drum music if the easiest to read out there. I used to sit in my room and play a bunch of upbeat punk music but later I tried to throw some finesse in there once I got older and started listening to some funk music.

TI: When I was younger in grammar school I soon discovered The Beatles and soon there after discovered drugs. Somehow I managed to learn to play guitar in that blur.

SMF: Any memorable moments on stage? 

TI: Fuck no!

KC: I actually have one! We were on the stage and during our last song Tony goes like he’s about to start taking his pants off. He pulled his belt off and started beating his guitar with it! That was memorable because nobody knew what he was going to do! The crowd stood there in awe because they probably thought he was about to pull out his junk or take a crap on the floor. It worked out for the best though, he just started beating up his guitar.

SMF: What do you think you’d be doing now if music hadn’t come into play? 

TI: I’d be doing not a god damn thing because that’s the only thing I’m good at outside of music. It’s like asking what would a bird do if it didn’t fly. It would cease to exist.

DL: I don’t know, penguins seem to have it figured out!

SMF: We’ve covered a little bit of the past, so what are goals right now? 

DL: To tour forever!

TI: I’d love a sandwich.

KC: Well, yeah, a sandwich and a bed is the goal right now but as for long term goals we definitely want to be touring as much as possible, get to every state, and put ourselves out there as much as possible. 11127839_10202535691673532_884881756_n

Rachel and I stay around for a little while longer and discuss the upcoming full length album recently recorded in Houston, Mammoths, until we leave them to go find their bed and sandwich before heading back onto the road. The Colossal Heads is the first band from NOLA I’ve had the pleasure to meet, and they certainly know how to set the standard.

“Here’s to our first and last show in Birmingham…but you were lovely.”

Avenue of The Giants

aotgSMF Live met the Atlanta based band prior to a show in Birmingham’s Matthews Bar and Grill. Catching them before hitting the road to Austin, Texas and a win at the first round of Hard Rock Rising’s Global Battle of the Bands, we all crowd into the van to talk about what’s happening for Avenue of the Giants.

Smf Live: Let’s start out with who founded the band and give us a brief history. 

Devon Lewow (AOTG Lead Vocalist): Foz and I actually started the Avenue of The Giants September of 2011. We both were professional musicians and didn’t really think about being in a band together, but, we made some songs and those songs turned into a set- do you want to take it from here Foz?

Foz Rock (AOTG Lead Guitar): I had just come out of a band called Rehab and wasn’t looking for anything to make me jump back on the road. We wanted to be more of song-writers rather than touring musicians, but as the music came together and the crew started to build, we quickly realized that we needed to take this to the public. And to see how people reacted, its been great! It’s really been great.

SMF: Did you sell any of your songs? 

Both: No, we kept everything!

SMF: So where did you two come in? [Directed towards Justin and Darrick] 

DL: Justin and I knew each other for years. We played in another band together and Darrick was the engineer for the first record.

FR: But we’ve had this line-up since October of 2013, so it’s been going pretty solid.

Justin Aldrich (AOTG Bassist): I think we’re a pretty good unit at this point.

Smf: What are influences and inspirations? 

DL: My parents were in the music industry. My Mother was one of the highest ranking females in the music business on the executive side. For a musician it was good going into a recording and knowing what the people in the board room were actually talking about. I had that and my Dad was also an executive at Capitol EMI. Musically, we were born in the 80’s and grew up in the 90’s, and love Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, Incubus, 311…I know Foz will probably say Jellyfish and stuff like that. Modern  there’s Foo Fighters, Arctic Monkeys- rock is still very much alive and well. And I’m happy to see it.

FR: Other than that I’d have to add Guns n’ Roses. Slash is a former-fave guitar player. Jimmy Page, Jellyfish for sure, Queen. Non musically, my family, they immigrated here from India in the 60’s. Other than that, everything I come in contact with every day is an influence.

JA: Let’s start with non-musical first, because that can be difficult when you eat, sleep, and breathe music and it’s your passion. My niece and nephew and the way they just tackle life, they keep me on point for sure, they inspire me to be a better person. Musically the gambit is endless. I’d have to go with the classics like Queen- big arena rock. And my sister, she’s an orchestra major so that’s been an influence for sure.

Darrick Atwater (AOTG Drummer): I’m going to sound a little generic at first but my non musical family comes from friends and family. Not so much inspiration as it is me wanting to impress certain people. I grew up well off but I faced personal struggles with drugs and that kind of thing. I’m a recovering addict, so really just to impress them and be able to say “Hey, I’ve done good.” and keep moving that way. Musically, basic 90’s stuff. I came to my own with post-punk music like MCR, The Used, Taking back Sunday, and all of that shit.

SMF: What were your first concerts? 

DL: Van Halen 1985, it was the 5150 tour and my Mom took me. My Mom and Dad both worked the record, so I got to meet the band, and that became one of my first living memories. David Lee Roth is the reason I’m a front man to a band…it’s not the spandex.

DA: It’s totally the spandex.

SMF: How old were you at Van Halen? 

DL: I was four.

FR: Mine was Bon Jovi and Skid Row. What was yours? [Directed towards Justin]

JA: Aerosmith, the 9 lives tour.

DA: 311

DL: But would you say those were the best concerts?

FR: The best show I saw was Jellyfish opening for The Black Crowes on both of their first albums. Pretty amazing. Well, I think Jellyfish had two albums released by then.



SMF: How would you describe your music and how has it evolved since starting out? 

All: Real.

DL: Undeniable rock n’ roll.

DA: That’s kind of presumptuous.

DL: It’s not! It’s not like we have to force our music. We want to write songs, great songs, and a lot of that stuff just happens naturally. But we don’t settle, I don’t want to say we don’t want to fluff, but we don’t want to make any songs we wouldn’t want to listen to ourselves.

FR: And we like radio music.

DA: I mean, it’s popular for a reason.

SMF: What was the moment that it hit you that you wanted to stick with music? 

DL: You heard mine, I was four.

FR: I saw Live Without a Net by Van Halen. We’ve got a lot of Van Halen influence in the band.

DL: They’re amazing.

FR: Yeah, remember when he does that eruption guitar solo on stage? He sits there and just lights a cigarette-

DA: And he looks so tiny on this giant stage-

FR: It was a huge stage! And that’s when it hit me that “Yeah, I want to do that.”

DL: A full reintroduction to it maybe was when Wayne’s World came out and the gravitation back towards Bohemian Rhapsody. That was a huge song in the 70’s that everyone rushed back to in 1993. It was inspiring to me to see that music forefront again. It’s timeless music.

DA: Mine was my parents plopping me down in front of a piano when I was a kid and [they] let me play away at the keys. I was like “Oh shit, these sounds, those are fantastic!”




SMF: So what are your goals right now? 

FR: To continue to book shows and tour so we can get our music out there…and to work on album number two!

SMF: What advice would you put out there for those who are just starting out? 

DL: Close your mouth and do a lot of listening. There are a lot of people out there that do a lot of big talk and that will promise you the world. Everyone in this band has been doing this for a long time and I know I would say to listen more than you talk for sure.

FR: Pull your sleeves up and work your ass off.


Synical Deliverance


SMF Live’s head photographer, Olyvia Kirk, and I arrive at The Nick an hour ahead of schedule, being our first time there we’re left to nothing but the disinterested blonde bartender that “checks” our I.D.’s and then leaves us to end of the bar to make our usual conversation for what ends up being almost two hours before Synical Deliverance, a Birmingham Electronic Industrial band, makes their way in. We’re greeted by Synical’s frontman Aaron Slaughter, who then introduces us to his fellow band mates and long-time friends, Ryan Mitchell and Matthew Daniels, before pulling up a chair next to us to chat and eat dinner before making his rounds to begin setting up and introducing himself to others at the bar. By that time, I start mapping out plans for the night and Olyvia heads to the bathroom, only for me to be greeted by a lanky man while the blonde bartender is walking out from her shift.

“Let me see your I.D.”

I hand it to him, as done before, and tell him my friend is in the bathroom but has her I.D. to show him once she comes back. It takes him a solid five minutes of math in his head before he says

“Yeah, no, you guys need to leave. Is you’re friend 21 because that’s how old you have to be to stay here.”

Under my breath I kindly thank the previous bartender for the heads up and grab Olyvia for us to head out. Matthew takes note of what’s happening and walks us outside to “Let Aaron know what’s going on.” And with Aaron’s persistence, we’re able to secure our end-of-the-bar seats until 12 o’clock with promises that Synical Deliverance will take the stage by 11:30, leaving us plenty of time to get photographs of them playing. Sadly, perhaps on this particular night, time was not the priority of the man doing sound. So much, that even within the time he was complaining about little things such as the amps from the opening band being in front of his speakers while they were in the process of loading their equipment, I managed to move them on my own in an effort to hurry it along while attempting to maintain  failed conversation with the shy bassist/singer from Coin Opportunity. Little did any of that help. Synical Deliverance begins their first song at 12:06, the exact time Olyvia walks up to the stage to begin taking photographs, the exact time I am approached by the same man insisting that if I don’t grab Olyvia at that moment the laws mighty wrath will strike down upon The Nick if we’re allowed to stay two more seconds to get any pictures in. With our kind escort, we leave the venue after a wasted six hours, with better hopes for our interview.

Flash forward two days, it’s a cold and windy morning and Olyvia and I are lost in Downtown Birmingham, calling Aaron for directions. Nothing out of the usual for us, and eventually we see his flannel covered arm waving down the road, and make it to the front of his house to pick him up. And this time, due to my intense lack of being able to be a proper functioning human before noon, we’re the late ones. But luckily Aaron is kind, forgiving, and a bit groggy himself as we head to Starbucks at Five Points South. We grab drinks and settle in for the interview at a table upstairs.



SMF Live: How did you get involved with music? 

Aaron Slaughter: I remember my first experience with music being when I was five years old. Pizza Hut had this thing where you could get a Ninja Turtles tape with a large pizza, and my Mom got it for me! I still have it and it’s called “Ninja Turtles Coming Out of Their Shells.” I ended up memorizing the entire thing and just singing it in my bathroom. I think that planted the seed for me to become the singer that I am now. My Mom liked a lot of hair metal and country music at that time, so I listened to that growing up. When I started getting older and identifying with my own music I was listening to Nirvana, Green Day, and Live. Live came out with “Throwing Copper” which is one of the best albums ever. Mom noticed me getting into this music when I was eight and bought my first boom box. She got me Nirvana’s “Nevermind”, Green Day’s “Dookie”, and Live’s “Throwing Copper” on tape. Later, CD players started coming out, so I got the same albums just with some more on CD. The next thing to happen was when I was thirteen, I saw a video of Kurt Cobain, and said that I wanted to play guitar like him. At that time we didn’t have the money to get a guitar so I pawned my Super Nintendo. That thing meant so much to me, oh my fucking god, I am such a video game nerd! So we pawned that, then it was worth about $200, and the guy totally ripped us off. I got a six-string Stratocaster, which has since been stolen from me, someone broke into my Mom’s house when I was eighteen and stole my first guitar. But that’s how long I know I’ve been playing, because I got that, and started playing on my thirteenth birthday. It took me about a year and a half to two years before I could sing and play guitar at the same time

SMF: So you’re self taught? 

AS: Oh yeah! I taught myself using a program on Windows platform that taught me how to play Deftones, Korn, and all of that other stuff. So later [after I could play and sing together] I played my first show at Vincent High School in front of about five hundred people. I played Nirvana’s “Pennyroyal Tea”  and my Grandmother, who has now passed away, showed up in the middle of it. That was a big moment for me, having her show up to see my play. I played my second show with some friends at Chelsea High School when they were having a talent show. I started the first real band I was a part of with a guy from that – Do I have to say the name of that first band? God it’s so embarrassing.

[Silence, and Aaron sighs]

AS: Psycho Monkey Newt.


AS: It sounds like a bad chemistry experiment or something! But it didn’t go anywhere. Then when I hit eighteen, it was a big milestone for me, and I started listening to electronic music. Ministry being my big influence at that time. And I ordered my first drum machine, and that took me on the path of playing electronic music. So when I started to learn how to play that I started creating what would be the skeletons of the first album, “Hades”, which came out in 2008. I technically wrote the album in 2006, but started it in 2003, which is when I met with Ryan and we just played acoustic guitar and stuff like that until I said “Hey come check out this drum machine” and he loved it! So eventually I said “Why don’t we just start a band using this?” with a plan of when we started to play shows with it, that we’d just figure it out. Later I moved in with [who was basically my high school sweetheart] and she allowed Ryan and Matthew to stay with us. Matthew actually moved in for about a year, and you’d be surprised how much music you can get done living together if you take time to focus, and not just sit around smoke weed and drink like a lot of people are still just doing! You need to be sober and set your goals high for what you want to accomplish. So, like I was saying, when Ryan started coming over and jamming with me we started what would become “Hades.” I feel so old now. Looking back at everything, I’m like “God, I’m still here in Birmingham, and I know I won’t be doing anything until I get out of here.”

SMF: So what are your goals? 

AS: We have huge goals-

SMF: If you leave…would it be Matthew and Ryan with you?

AS: That’s the question. I’ve always wondered that if I decided to go off to L.A. or Seattle if they would go with me…I know Matthew would probably want to but Ryan just got married. I’d like to think Ryan would want to stay just as involved, because he sees the potential of the band, but our goals would be to get to bigger cities to play bigger shows and get signed to a label.

SMF: What would your advice for people starting out be? 

AS: A few years ago we were brought to a bad record deal by Dysfunctional Records, and the name alone should have told me not to mess with them. I think they’re still making money from us. We’ve never been payed for any of the music from Amazon, iTunes, or anything like that. Even right now you can still get online to buy our music and we won’t get paid a cent for it. My advice would be to watch your ass! And to get an entertainment lawyer. Stay away from stupid contracts – take it to your lawyer to read first! Get a jam space, like Uncle Bob’s Storage in Homewood, so you don’t get the cops called on you. There’s so much I could say on that topic. Always respect each other.

SMF: What would you have done differently? 

AS: When I was younger I wish I would have found a way to get a couple thousand dollars together to just jet it out of here to Seattle or L.A. I wish I would have went and at least know that I tried. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony bought a one-way ticket to L.A. for an audition and got a record deal on the spot. They just didn’t go back home.


It’s not too much longer before the three of us decide that time is flying by entirely too fast, and that we should start to make our way to the shooting location, where we spend hours that day until we take Aaron back home while admiring old buildings downtown and talk about ex lovers, tattoos, and computers. Our day had a slow start, but was good once we got going, thank you Starbucks!




After a two hour drive that consisted nothing short of road rage, singing along to an old Journey greatest hits CD, and plenty of u-turns because we could have sworn the GPS said to turn at the next light, we arrive at the home of Cody Miskelley, lead guitarist for Sinema, who greets Olyvia and I along with Nathan Howell, the bassist. Olyvia is a long-time friend and photographer of mine that I’ve decided to take along for the ride. We’re welcomed inside and wait for the other two band members, Ryan and Andrew, the lead singer and drummer for the band to arrive while Cody and Nathan continue to set what equipment they have there. While waiting, I soon take over the music selection and it’s not too long before we are all singing along to Marilyn Manson. Finally, everyone arrives drums, beer, and whiskey in hand. They begin playing within a matter of minutes. Musically, Sinema offers a unique 80’s inspired sound that makes you do nothing but crave more. My personal favorites from the band include “Dangerously Dangerous”, “Between Heaven and Hell” featuring Craig Mabbitt from Escape the Fate, and “High Times”. The band members were gentlemen that offered nothing but warm and honest answers and stories both on and off of the record. And I was fortunate enough to join my friends for our first official interview after one that had been previously canceled. Throughout the interview we learned that 2015 will hold endless opportunity for the band with new music videos, album releases, and big touring dates. But if there is anything I took from this it’s that I’m glad to have met these guys when I did with so much still ahead of them. Sinema show’s are theatrical with heels, big multicolored hair, and of course a good amount of blood to match. Certainly something you don’t want to miss, which is why I’m hoping to see you lined up with me outside of The Masquerade this Sunday to see them! This is the first time Sinema has been with SMF Live, and I certainly hope that it’s not the last.

With love,


Editor-in-Chief, SMF Live Birmingham

Smf: Let’s hear a brief history of the band.

Ryan: I started the band with Marlon in 2011 and we had Taylor, Alexander, and Noman. Noman is in Decode now. And Jake Davis was on the bass. We went through a period of, you know, being at each other’s necks and Noman along with Taylor eventually quit and we kinda gave Jake the boot, sorry about it, and we stopped playing shows for a brief period of time in 2012 up until Cody and I –

(Laughter from both)

– had a drug filled night and we decided that he needed to be in the band. And after a few weeks I said “You know, it only makes sense that one of my other best friends is in the band.” So we talked to Nathan about joining in and playing the bass. So we went on for a while and got together November of 2012 when Nathan, Cody, and I put some songs together.

Smf: Have you always been the primary writer?

R: Well, all of us get in and write together but a lot of our songs were already written at this point except for “High Times” and “Crazy” which we wrote in the studio. But anyway, again, we got together in November of 2012 and played instrumentally without Marlon, got back together with Marlon to play a New Years show, then we got back into the studio where Marlon finished recording all of the drum tracks until he came to us and he quit.

Cody: We could see it coming. But of course we didn’t want to kick him out because he’s our friend.

Andrew: I will say I was in shock finding out, but then again, at that time I was an outsider looking in.

R: But as soon as I got that text message, the first thing that popped into my head was that I needed to talk to Andrew. Because Andrew was a drummer and had been in bands before even though he hadn’t played in a while I knew he had rhythm. Good rhythm! So when I began talking to him he was immediately like “Okay I see where this is going!”

Smf: So Andrew how were you available at that time? Were you working on any projects? 

A: At the time I had stopped playing the drums, like Ryan said. I’ve known Ryan since I was maybe twelve but anyway I had put down the drums for a while to play guitar and work on some solo stuff. But I had remained in touch with Ryan, so once Marlon left he started talking to me and I told him how I hadn’t played in a few months but that I’d try anyway, and I was surprised I even make it in because I thought I wouldn’t do the band justice but-

C: But he did!

A: I guess I did, yeah! (laughter)

C: Well he came and “tried out” at least

A: But you know I had been doing my own thing for a while, and I had been a big fan of these guys for a while.

R: Oh yeah, he actually had been to our shows when Marlon was still in the band. But when Andrew was with us for our come back show, after I was in my accident, everyone started coming to us saying “Wow, you guys sound so much tighter now. Whatever it is, that kid plays better with you, and you sound better as a group.”

A: For the record, I think Marlon is great and I’ve always really liked him.

C: Absolutely, Andrew just seems to work better with us as a unit.

Smf: Okay so lets move onto musical and non-musical influences. 

Nathan: All right!

R: Well then you can start since you said “All right!”

N: Some of our musical influences include the popular glam metal bands of the 80’s. Such as, Kiss and Motley Crue, primarily, Then, we move forward into the late 80’s and early 90’s where we meet one of the greatest metal bands to ever exist, Pantera.

Smf: Right on!

C: Woo! (Laughter)

N: Who are Cody and Ryan’s main guitar influences.

R: Hold up! Not my primary.

N: Okay well then one at least. His primary would be Zakk Wylde from Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne. But bass wise for me you have the obvious like Nikki Sixx and Twiggy.

Smf: Twiggy is awesome.

N: Of course! Along with Gene Simmons, to an extent. He’s just a douche.

A: But he’s an underrated bass player!

N: No I agree, he is an underrated bass player, but he’s a douche.

Smf: But it’s Gene Simmons, that’s kind of his thing.

C: No that’s Axl Rose’s thing!

Smf: He is so beyond that! 

(Band chimes in singing “Sweet Child of Mine”)

R: You know, I love Axl Rose, I’m not going to lie. Nathan and I actually went to see him in 2011 and it was awesome!

N: They played for three hours!

R: That’s why everyone thinks he can’t sing anymore! Because all that people record are the hits at the end of the set once’s he’s been singing for two and a half hours when his voice is gone!

C: Let’s hear Andrews influences!

A: I actually listen to a lot of old jazz drummers like Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, and guys like that who are fucking crazy. They are better than most metal drummers even. But then again I really like Tommy Lee and Peter Chriss.

Smf: You guys are slightly obsessed.


A: Tommy and I actually have the same birthday!

R: Tommy Chong and I actually have the same birthday, so imagine that!

N: Speaking of which, we do all share one particular non-musical influence…

C: Ha, weed!

R: Or Mary Jane. But we like Jack Daniels too, he’s a good guy.

C: I’m influenced by a musical cornucopia of things. My favorite band is Kings of Leon who influenced me so much that they are the entire reason why I started playing guitar. But The Used influenced me to start singing.

R: My influences, both in life and music, Zakk Wylde on guitar, Paul Stanley on vocals. Well, the old Paul Stanley. Rest in peace Paul Stanley’s voice. And outside of music I’d have to say my Grandfather.

A: The people around us influence us!

All: Yeah, absolutely.

N: My biggest three are these guys!

R: Aw, Nathan you kiss ass!

C: Note, that’s the only sweet thing he’s ever said.

Smf: But hey, it’s recorded!

C: Exactly! Now we have proof!

R: Now we can blackmail you with it, Nathan.

Smf: We’ve talked about the past, so where is the band going? How have you improved and where do you see yourselves in a year? What are some goals?

R: I was actually talking to Andrew about this on the way here. My main goal for 2015 is to start touring. Finally, nationwide touring.

Smf: So who is mainly in charge of getting shows? Because without a manager it’s all just left to you guys. 

C: We’re the musketeers of management!

R: When we first started most of the load was on me, but as time went on I became more like “Okay I need help with this. I’m not able to just to this on my own.” So everybody pulls their own weight. If I’m working or just busy I’ll message Cody or Nathan and be like “Hey can you handle this?”

C: Usually I get stuck with the mad people.

A: I think my main thing is online publicity.

Smf: Which we’ll definately touch on because, Ryan, that’s something you and I have discussed before.

R: Right.

Smf: Well, let’s go ahead and talk about that actually. As far as Twitter goes, you guys are good. But Facebook doesn’t seem to be working out so well. Why is that?

R: Here’s the thing about Facebook, you may have a good amount of friends but all you can really do is just invite them to like your page. Twitter you follow someone and when they follow you back you learn about them right at that moment. Facebook, even if a ton of people like your page, only a good ten percent of them will see what you post if you’re lucky. That’s the money scheme so that you’ll sponsor your post.

N: So the 1,500 or so people that like our page will never get to see what we post, it becomes more like only one hundred people see it.

A: But I feel like soon Twitter won’t be the big website to be on because I remember when Myspace was great for putting what you needed up.

R: Even on Myspace you had to friend people. You didn’t just ask people if they would like your page.

N: They just instantly saw what you posted.

C: And it’s weird how Facebook works because only things with the most amount of likes or comments will make it to the top of your feed. These guys can post something and it will be days until I see it after people have all ready started to comment on it.

A: Right. It’s been a lot harder to reach out to people on Facebook.

Smf: Any plans on how to change that?

N: I read this intersting article on Alternative Press that talked about how the best way to reach people on Facebook was through groups. I even participate in a few groups on Facebook.

C: Same.

N: All on different topics, but every time someone makes a post to the group, you know. It gives you a notification so that you’ll go back and look at it. So I think that’s a way we could really improve our Facebook problem.

Smf: So instead of waiting for that to show up in your news feed you’d just instantly get a notification? 

N: Right, because you’re part of that group.

R: The hardest thing about being in a band is just getting people to know you exist.

A: It’s hard to stand out since there are so many bands out there.

R: People see bands and think that they just got there over night. You can go out at night and look at the stars but that doesn’t mean those are the only ones up there. It’s so much more than anyone thinks it is.

Smf: Maybe that helps you appreciate things a little more when you work harder to get it. We’re about to take a break, do you guys was to say something before we end this segment? 

R: Absolutely! A big thing for us is to not judge a book by it’s cover. I get on stage with my heels and more makeup than most women wear and Cody tends to look…dead on stage.

C: Gotta love the bruises!

R: Right, gotta love the bruises. And his pink makeup.

C: Our name in Sinema so obviously we’re there to put on a fucking show!

A:I think a big thing for the band is that we want people to see us and believe they can do what they want to do while being who they want to be.

Smf: Well, once you guys are big, that’s the thing-

R: I’m sorry, I like the way you worded that.

N: I love the way you worded that!

Smf: That’s the thing that will help you stand out! Because you haven’t conformed to the look everyone else is going after. 

R: This may sound horrible, but before we mentioned how much we love Pantera, and if there is anything we’ve learned from them it’s that trends come and then they fucking die. And we aren’t here to be a trend. We aren’t here just to make people happy. I see bands post all of the time “What do you want to hear on our next album?” And that’s just the most unoriginal thing you can do. If you aren;t making what you feel because it’s what you like then you’re just going to fade out. Any other questions you want to ask for now?

Smf: I think I’m going to hold off for now, Olyvia do you have anything?

R: Come on, think outside of the box!

Smf: What do you think of George Bush?

N: Oh god.


C: I don’t think you want to know.

Smf: Are there any political influences that go into the music? Think of your two big songs right now “High and Mighty” and “Between Heaven and Hell” how did those lyrics come to be?

C: Lay the smack down Ryan!

R: Lets start this with “Between Heaven and Hell” I wrote that in high school before I ever even had a band. I may be a rock star but I am like Rob Halford in the way that I am not like most rock stars. Anyone that knows Rob Halford knows what I mean-

N: It’s because he’s gay!

R: And I’ve had people not take me seriously because of it. So with that I felt like I was between a rock and a hard place with every decision I made because, while I do want people to like me, I don’t give a mother fuck. So that is about knowing what you want, knowing you just want to get there more than anything else, but feeling like you’re stuck because of what people think about you.

Smf: How do you overcome those insecurities? Especially being a gay rock musician right now.

R: It clicks in your head that if someone likes me before they know but decide they don’t like me once they know, then I don’t care about you, because you’re an ignorant fuck.

C: That’s right!

R: But it wasn’t long ago because before I had been in relationships but I never put them on Facebook. The relationship I’m in now is one I’m very public about.

Smf: I mean, you and Kyle are ridiculously cute!

C: Exactly!

R: Thank you! And, okay, I have to stop because I’ll talk about “Between Heaven and Hell” for days. High and Mighty is about how…I’m obviously not a believer in any god or deity that can be named…

Smf: So are you on the spiritual side of that or the Athiest side of things? 

R: I don’t know where to draw my line in the sand. But I don’t like being told what to do because of other people’s bullshit. That’s happened all of my life, and one night, a family member just decided to open their mouth and I unloaded. But then turned around and wrote “High and Mighty” Or, well, I wrote the first verse and then some but it wasn’t until later when we had issues with promoters that I wrote the rest.

C: It’s just about people who think they are better than you because what they believe is “right.”

A: People that just want to push their perspective on you.

C: I feel like Ryan and I are at least the same in the way we are spiritually about how to treat others.

R: We don’t need a book or rules for us to know how to just be good people.

N: Like “High and Mighty” says, “I believe in myself, and my belief is devout.” So I’m a Nathan-thiest. Or a Sinemathiest!

Smf: You guys should just start your own religion!


N: My religion is you.

R: We love Gaga, too.

N: Totally, she’s the queen of the gays.

C: I must admit, I am a fan. Maybe that’s why people think I’m the gay one!

N: Our band is half gay. It’s me and Ryan. And that’s how we make our public appearances! Ryan and I are the gay side and Andrew and Cody are the straight side!

Smf: Except, Andrew gets put kind of in the middle…


C: We should probably switch places, bro!

R:Scoot over boy, scoot over!

N: It’s okay Andrew, it’ll come out in the wash.

R: You say that, and one day we’ll walk into Andrew face deep in a ____.

Smf: Censorship, guys! And poor Andrew looks so uncomfortable right now! 

(More laughter)

A: I can’t wait for this to be published online. Make that the title! Andrew face deep in a ____.

Smf: Maybe you’ll get lucky and people will skim over the part about the drummer. 

R: See, no we don’t believe in that. Although, Nathan is our bass player, and nobody likes Nathan. I’m joking of course! Nathan is a dear.

N: Not a dear person, only as in the animal.

C: Man those things taste good!

Smf: Cody, you redneck.

C: I actually had some the other day. It was so good.


Smf: Note, the redneck comments because we are in the middle of nowhere called Childersburg. 

C: Actually you passed Childersburg on the way here! Right now we’re in Fayetville. Childersburg was back at the light before you got here.

Olyvia: It’s still far away from civilization.

R: Well, if you, uh…(hiccup) nevermind! I forgot what I was going to say! (Laughs)

Smf: How’s that Jack, Ryan? 

C: Hell yeah, he’s my inspiration! That and Stone Cold Steve fucking Austin is another!

R: And that’s the bottom line!

C: Why?

R: Because Stone Cold said so!

C: God damn right! He’s also an influence with my fashion.

R: With the broken skull thing?

Smf: That reminds me! Those awesome shirts, who designed them? 

C: Our tattoo artist!

N: We were thinking one day about what our next merch idea should be and in the process we were enjoying a good, uh, smoke. And in the middle of that we said “What should we put on these shirts?”

Smf: So were there multiple designs to go through? 

R: No, it started with this one and ended with this one. I hate to say this, bit we are smart people, but we are also simple people! We know what we want so it’s very easy to get our idea across to people. The people we hang out with are like us so they just get it. It snaps. Just like you! You’re here because we like you!

C: That’s true. We aren’t assholes.

R: Well, they aren’t.

C: Seriously, I’ve never let anyone I know that I didn’t like come over to this house. One time I made a guy drop me off down the road so I could get here alone!

[Now here is where we go into hilarious and slightly inappropriate conversation that is best left off record for both parties.]

N: We love our grinders!

C: Hell yeah we love our grinders! For…tobacco.

N:Strictly tobacco of course.

R: These grinders are for oregano!


R: I’m enjoying this.

[And with more hilarious and inappropriate conversation, we take a break.]

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Smf: So here we are again! Lets jump right into this one – relationships. How have they changes joining a band? 

N: We’ll let Ryan take this one.

R: Lets answer this one in parts. It took my family a long time to like the band. They had to come see us before they liked it. Band mate relationships were difficult but not anymore because we get together and drink and play and just have a really good time! It doesn’t always sound awesome but the thing is that even in rehearsals if it sounds bad at the time, by a show we pull it together. And of course sexual relationships, especially serious ones, are emotional. But then again, song writing is emotional. I usually write when I get pissed but I can still be writing and begin to get emotions outside of just being pissed.

C: Usually anger is laced with sadness.

N: I don’t date. But my relationships with others around me do influence my music. My parents are involved, and my Mom enjoys our band a lot!

R: She’s awesome.

N: And so do my Grandparents. My Grandmother wears our band shirt all of the time! And the guys here in the band make me feel…like I can actually plat, which is nice.


A: My parents always support me and told me to always do what I wanted to. But otherwise I don’t have much of a social life outside of these guys. I play music and it’s nice to have people on the same wave length as I am.

Smf: So on the flip side of things, how does loneliness play a part in all of this? 

R: Oh god.

A: I think moments of that can be inspirational, but after so long you become numb to it. You just have to try to find a good social balance.

C: I’ve never had much opposition in my life, but it’s a lonely one, because like Nathan I don’t date.

R: I love my boyfriend! It just took me a very long time to find that.

C: It’s hard finding someone to connect to. I have not and will not settle for anything or anyone.

N: Absolutely.

C: My happiness can’t bloom from settling. So right now I’m a flower floating in the wind with these guys! It’s honestly me and my head for most of the time.

Smf: How are you guys hoping to inspire others with your music? If you are even trying to do so. 

R: This is difficult…

C: I feel like we each have a completely different answer.

R: Okay, here’s the thing about inspiring people, I feel like there are a lot of bands now writing preatchy-ass music. And if these kids need that much inspiration and are looking to rock stars for that, then that’s bad! Very bad.

C: We are not role models.

R: No, we aren’t role models! And we shouldn’t be writing something to intentionally inspire someone.

N:Because then it’s not genuine. They’re just doing it for the money.

R: Now if someone finds something in lyrics I have then, awesome! That makes me feel better than it could ever make them feel.

A: And for those who just want to play music. If someone said they wanted to start playing drums because they saw me then that would be pretty awesome.

N: I feel like for Ryan and I we want to send the message that gay people can be in rock bands.

R: And so does Rob Halford!

N: And that we aren’t stuck to some pop thing and we don’t have to be the stereotypical club gays. That we can be…different.

C:Wait…was there a question?

A: Well, yeah…

C: Nathan did you answer?

R: Cody, I think you’re drunk.

C: Yeah well I think you are….I don’t know.

Smf: Ryan I think that goes on to prove your point! 


Smf: Any advice for bands just starting out? 

R: My advice to anyone wanting to be in a band – if you want to be the most technical musician or whatever, fuck all of that – Find a friend that plays music and one that can grow with you as a musician, because if you aren’t in a band with your friends then you will be miserable.

A: I’d say to not be afraid to do your own thing. To write your own music even without necessarily having someone else there.

N: My advice is to tune your instrument before you get on stage!

C: Always important! And leave out all of the immature petty-bullshit arguing. Let it go!

Smf: What do you like most about what you do and least about what you do? Some pros and cons. 

R: Pro, it’s fucking fun. Even when shit hits the fan you can still say or do something to make it fun. Being on stage for me is almost better than sex, almost! The cons are dealing with assholes and being a “broke musician.” Because that sucks.

C: It’s the worst.

R: And look around this room, none of this equipment is cheap, especially for us. Plus shirts, grinders, posters – uh, tobacco grinders- all of it costs money! And that’s definitely a con.

N: We get to hangout and be on stage with our three best friends, to quote our song “High Times!”

R: They never let me down!


N: But just getting to play for people. Battle of the Bands was huge.

C: Now that was a show!

Smf: What was the show with the pot leaf tights, Ryan? 

R: Why, do you want me to bring them back?

Smf: I don’t know…


Smf: It’s a pretty intense outfit. 

C: I can feel it coming back again!

A: I’m pretty sure there’s a picture of me in the audience at that show.

C: There is!

R: Who thinks I should bring back the pot leaf pants? Show of hands!

(All raises hands)

R: It’s done.

C: That’s the show we had to finish early!

R: It was actually either eight or twelve days before my accident. But yeah, we ended that show because we had fireball that got us so drunk Marlon kept saying “I can’t play anymore songs, I’m going to throw up!” So I said “Okay well let’s do ‘Crazy’ and we’ll get off stage.” But moving on…

A: Well, I haven’t been in a shit-ton of bands but I’ve been in a few and for me it’s great to be with people that just make it all just feel…right.

C: Pros are, it’s fucking fun! Like Ryan said. Onstage, the feeling I get is absolutely like nothing in this world. And it makes me feel like a bad ass! Honestly, usually I just sit here, but once I get onstage I’m not Bruce Banner anymore, I’m the fucking Hulk! But the cons are nothing compared, which is why I do it.

Smf: Nathan, we’ve already compared you to an adorable little deer- 

N: Thank you!

Smf: but they are also clumsy. Have you ever had a fall onstage? 

N: Yes.


N: But I do not fall the most!

Smf: Who has fallen the most? 

N: Our lead singer Ryan holds the record for falling. In our first show he fell backwards.

R: Yeah I did! I busted my ass. But I got right back up!

C: He did too!

R: If I’m going to fall, I’m going to get right back up, and pretend that it was part of the show!

C: He gets up and says “Make some noise so I didn’t bust my ass for nothing!”

R: While we were shooting the music video we had a bottle of Jack-

C: for an hour!

R: For an hour! Then it was gone. Craig got there so we started and on the second run through I fell, and I almost fell on Craig!

Smf: Almost being the key there! 

R: Almost!

[Ryan pours another Jack and Diet Coke, and we take a break.]

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C: This is some good Jack!

R: We have to finish this before they leave.

C: I have a feeling we will.

Smf: Let’s move on into our next set of questions. 

C: Carry on my wayward journalist!

Smf: Any song you guys have had to take down a couple of notches? 

C: Atlanta, remember?

R: Right! We played in Douglasville one time, and the venue is owned by super Christian people.

Smf: Uh oh. 

R: Before we even played they went to all of the bands and said “If you cuss, don’t!” and I was immediately like “Oh Shit! How do we even do that?”

C: No! At first he was like “No, fuck that! I’m going to cuss anyway. I don’t care!” But we got together and decided we could just tone it down.

R: I said “Bitch” and “damn” and as soon as I got off stage I went straight to the people and I was like “I am…so sorry.”

Smf: Musical families? 

C: Actually my Grandfather on my Dad’s side had a brother. Jack –

R: Daniels!

C: Jack Miskelley! And he played and could sing and I could remember seeing him maybe twice while I was younger. But there isn’t anyone that plays in my family now other than me. Except my Grandmother was a gospel singer and she was part of a group that toured and everything. There’s a video somewhere with me singing with her she hold onto because she says it’s the most adorable thing ever. But I enjoyed listening to her.

A: My Dad plays the accordion!

C: That’s because your Dad is bad ass! He’s the nicest, coolest, and most caring person I’ve ever met.

A: I’m very fortunate.

C: I agree. I had to add that, I think very highly of your Dad.

A: Well thank you.

Smf: Nathan? 

N: As far as older than me my Dad told me he was once in a band for a short period of time. He played bass too, which is weird, but he stopped before he was an adult really. And between my sisters, both of them play music.

R: My Grandfather that passed away a few years ago played guitar and he’s the reason why I picked one up in the first place. I would lay my head up on his acoustic while he played and it was the most beautiful thing you could ever hear. That was so profound and had such a profound impact on my life. I wanted to learn since I could even comprehend learning.

Smf: Thoughts on formal music education? 

C: Fuck that!

R: I went to college and was in an audition-only choir. You can’t tell when I sing rock music, but I’m classically trained and I can sing opera.

N: That he can!

R: But I don’t. I feel like, yes, being self taught is important but knowing your shit is also important.

N: I did band in high school and I think it’s very helpful knowing how to read and compose music but I don’t think it’s really necessary. I was originally going into that for my major but I don’t like the band program where I’m at so I changed it. I think formal music education is awesome if that’s something you’re into.

A: Yeah, I tried majoring in music for maybe a semester, but it make me hate it. I didn’t have any of the creative freedom that I had when I was just writing my own stuff. You can’t tell someone how to be an artist. They just have to develop it on their own.

C: When I say “Fuck that shit!” I don’t mean it’s stupid, I’m just one hundred percent self taught. While I can look at something and try to play along that’s just not how I learn.

R: But I book learn.

C: The original way I learned was watching a Kings of Leon live DvD. I’d look at where they were putting their hands and did it until it sounded right. My ear for music has improved too a lot since then. I was Jean Gray but now I’m the fucking Phoenix!

R: Is that the official name, fucking Phoenix?

Smf: How is a day spent prepping for a show? 

Cody: Musicals baby!

R: Musicials, but first I go looking around the world for a u-haul. Pick up Andrew, listen to country music until we get here – late. We load up everything and get into the car! And obviously listen to musical soundtracks on the way there.

C: Tiny Tim!

R: We get to the show – late. And that’s pretty much our ritual other than unloading everything of course. Once we’re done we go load everything back up and head home.

N: No, to Al’s to sober up!

R: Oh yeah, we go to Al’s Mediterranean Grill to sober up, then we head home! Once we’re back Andrew heads back with his Dad, I go off to Kyle’s, and Nathan usually is here with Cody watching X-Men.

[This leads us into a long conversation of X-Men and chess.]

R: This interview really has just turned into a conversation for all of us, hasn’t it? But then again…those are the best ones.

Smf: I completely agree. 

[More drinks were poured, more music was played before a stack of Marshalls were knocked over, more laughter was shared, and at one o’clock in the morning Cody walks us to the car. Olyvia and I leave with one hell of an interview and a pair of tickets for the next show in hand.] 


“Most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, for people who can’t read.”