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.”


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. 

Runner Up, Chuck!

Big changes have been happening for the Talladega based punk band, Runner up Chuck, and SMF Live was fortunate enough to talk to them before “officially” announcing their new singer, Mylon Robinson, current vocalist of American Pastime. As many readers may know, I’m not usually one for getting up before noon, and I completely blame the music industry for making me that way, but fate brought me to wake up early that day to send them a message in regards to the interview time. A ten o’clock interview time.

“You can come sooner if you’d like, we are about to go and get some groceries and make some breakfast!”

I quickly respond with a plea for coffee, and it works! After, naturally, making a u-turn back to the house studio I pass despite my GPS, Lisa, and Chase Reaves, Runner Up Chuck drummer, waving outside of the door while on the phone with me, I make it to my destination and I’m greeted by him along with an Adam Levine clone that asks me if the vanilla caramel coffee creamer in the fridge “works for me”. I can tell it’s going to be a good day, so I sit coffee-in-hand with the guys to talk about the local band everyone has endlessly told me about, and come to a quick understanding of what all the fuss was made of. Everyone was laid back and friendly despite the possible morning terror aura I may have had pre-coffee. Great music pours out from this band including singles like “Memories” from “Better Luck Next Time”, and I for one, am thrilled for the upcoming full length album.


SMF: How was the group formed? 

Joseph Strickland (Vocals and Guitar): It started out with me doing my own solo thing, I had been in a previous band for about ten years, but I finally just got to the point where I said “I want a band.” So I got my brother, David, to sing and somewhere along down the line we met Shwick and I said he needed to come play bass with us.

Tim “Shwisk” Spickard (Bass): Fun fact, I showed them I knew how to play bass by playing around on an old school bow…like a bow and arrow.

JS: I met Cody through a mutual friend and found out he played guitar. We spent the longest time trying to find a pop-punk drummer, so we just posted that on Facebook and a friend of ours, Matt Powell, tagged Chase in the status and said “You guys need to hook up.”

Chase Reaves (Drums): I worked for him at the time and I was in a death-core band! So I went from death-core to pop-punk.

JS: We went through our first rehearsal, and just knew, then we met Mylon!

CR: It was at that house show! Bryan (Luckyhorse Recording) referred them to us.

Mylon Robinson (Vocals): Thank you Bryan!

Bryan Papic (Producer/Engineer): Ain’t no problem, I love you guys!

SMF: So, you’re singing for the band now [directed towards Mylon], how did that work out? 

TS: David is moving to North Carolina, so Mylon is the permanent replacement, and we’re wanting to really debut that with this tour and upcoming full length album.

SMF: What is that going to be called? 

TS: Flee the Scene.

SMF: What are some influences? 

JS: For me, it ranges, from 90’s alternative all the way up to modern pop-punk like Story So Far. My biggest influences are probably Blink and New Found Glory.

Cody Johnson (Guitar): I’d like to say that I think we all have a good bit of Blink influence.

TS: Definitely.

CJ: But for the most part we all come from different musical backgrounds. I’ve always listened to a lot of metal like Periphery.

CR: I knew the first thing you would say would be Periphery!

CJ: But, there’s some other stuff, it’s just a big mixing pot.

JS: You’ve got three metal heads in a punk band.

SMF: And family influence? 

CR: My family does influence me because I’m, like, the sixth generation musician in my family.

TS: Not me, my family doesn’t do anything [as far as music is involved], I’m the first generation in music which is why I’m so terrible!

JS: I grew up in a very musical family, my Dad has been playing music for fifteen years now.

CR: Mylon, you can say something about your musical influences.

MR: I can say something? Dude. Britney Spears for real.


MR: I grew up on N-Sync and Britney Spears!

SMF: What are your goals for this year? What’s the farthest you’ve gone from home on tour so far? 

TS: The farthest we’ve gone for a show so far is Florence, Alabama. But we’ve got a tour right now that’s kind of under wraps, we’re hitting Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham, and Florence again. We’ve always had a good response, there’s a big death metal scene.

SMF: In Florence, really? 

TS: Absolutely, they love us there.

CR: The last time we were there it was three death-core bands and then us.

JS: We were the only punk band!

CR: We got up there and said “We’re pop-punk, so, sorry you guys.” But they were even stage diving! We had the biggest crowd response from that entire night.

TS: There was one song we were playing and we said “All right, this is the circle pit song, guys!” And they started one! We weren’t even playing yet, we were still tuning, and they started the pit. But, anyway, the goal for this year would be to get signed to a label and with this new album we definitely see that potential. It’s a huge step up for us musically. We’ve put in one hundred percent of our effort and talent into this and, of course, now we’ll get to add Mylon’s sexy voice!

SMF: Will David be on the album at all? 

TS: He’s going to have a guest spot.

SMF: How do you manage personal conflicts in the band? 

TS: Basically, we’ve set up a democratic voting system, called The Band Vote. If you’re out voted, then that’s the end of it, you’re done.

JS: The problem is, when David is involved, you’ll have four guys all trying to be the alpha male on certain things. David tends to take things really personally and Chase really likes to instigate everybody else. Schwick butts heads mostly with David and myself and Cody is just like-

CJ: I’m here.

JS: He’s just here.

TS: After all it said and done though, we’re literally spending every weekend together, we’re brothers and all love each other.

CR: There’s really no conflict that has lasted more than, like, an hour.

SMF: What goes into choosing your instruments/equipment?

JS: I’ve been through so many different guitars and amp rigs because I’m just constantly chasing tone-

TS: And never achieving.


JS: Anyway, my main guitar that I use is one I actually built myself. It’s a Fender Stratocaster copy.

CJ: I’ve lucked out on any piece of gear I own. I’m playing on an Orange 4×12 cab, which is…I’m beside myself.

JS: It’s phenomenal.

CJ: I’ve got one Schecter Hellraiser Delux, is that right? It’s got active EMG’s and-

JS: 81/85.

CJ: And a Fender Tellocaster custom that, also, has EMG 81/85. Schwick?

TS: Okay, well, when I first started playing in the band I was having a rough time and had to sell the Ibanez five string I had.

JS: Who needs a five string?

TS: If you’re playing metal you do. But, anyway, I had to sell that with a crappy cab I had. Joe custom built what was basically a Fender Precision Bass four string.

JS: Use the term “custom built” loosely.

TS: It was awful.

JS: I built it out of necessity!

TS: I played it for a while.

SMF: Even with as horrible as it may have been? 

TS: It did its service.

CJ: It made noise, sometimes!

TS: I was playing through a guitar cab too.

JS: Yeah, we had a Marshall 4×12 cab.

TS: Was that the stupid thing that kept fading in and out?

CR: Yes! God, it was terrible.

TS: But we did what we had to do, everything served its purpose.

CR: My first kit was a crappy Pearl kit. Now I use a Meridian Black Raven Mapex kit. I had all Zildjian cymbals, but then I got my endorsement with TRX, and now I’m using a 14″ hat, an 18″ crash, 20″ crash ride, and a 7″ t-bell as thick as sin.

JS: It’ll cut you in half.

MR: You promise?


TS: I’m sorry we don’t do professional interviews.

CJ: What’s that word?

MR: I failed that class.

CR: But I use Pearl Demon Drive pedals, I’ve got to throw that one in, they’re beautiful.

MR: I use whatever microphone that fits into my hand.

SMF: Do you play anything? 

MR: I play guitar.


SMF: All right.

CJ: Go through the history!

MR: You don’t want that! [Pause] I know all All Time Low songs on guitar and almost all Blink 182 songs.

CR: That’s why you’re going to be such a good fit to the band.

MR: I know, right?

TS: We can’t even express how thrilled we are to have you in the band. Not saying we don’t love David, because we do, he was a great fit and can write some killer melodies but with him stepping down we just couldn’t think of a better match than Mylon.


“You Promise?” 

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!




We end up here again, Olyvia and I in a town that neither of us have heard of before, making U-turns because, I refuse to admit I’m not as good of a driver as I am in my head, and we’ve got too caught up in conversation and singing along to Lana Del Rey to actually be paying attention to the directions. But somehow we manage to pull up to the home of Ensul’s lead singer, Stephen Jones, right on time. And to my surprise the rest of the band minus one, due to forgiving circumstances, are all there too. A punctuality miracle in the music industry. Ensul prides themselves on professionalism, both on and off stage, and it’s apparent and equally appreciated while working with them. Due to busy schedules in both parties, Olyvia and I come with somewhat of a game plan mapped out for the last minute photo shoot with the band before the interview begins. The question of where to set up sets in,

“I really didn’t think about that. Austin, give them the grand tour! Maybe you guys can figure something out.”

Austin Wesson, the bands lead guitarist, leads us through the house and we all pitch in effort in an attempt to figure out how to truly work with what we’ve been given, which isn’t much. Looking around the house I can’t help but to notice the air mattress to my left blown up in a room that I assume would be a dining room in other circumstances. I’ll be one to admit that in a typical man cave, I can be impressed by the simplistic creativity of a space,and this is one of those times. After looking at the mattress again for a moment, the light bulb goes off. Olyvia and Austin are talking between the make-shift studio and other part of the dining room when this hits me.

“Well, we do have this lovely air mattress.”

That’s all I need to say before Olyvia and Austin agree to my indirect suggestion and the idea is introduced to the guys. A moment of

“Is she being serious?” and

“Let’s do it!” followed by

“How in the hell is this even going to work?”

takes place before Steve pads into the room followed by the K-nine companion Doge and everyone else. Within moments I’m a happy witness to the hilarious pile of grown men on a small mattress.

“Who was the last person to have sex on this thing?” Someone asks, it’s hard to know which one is speaking due to turned heads, Austin yelling due to dropping a lit cigarette on himself while another man is laying on top of him, my laughter, and more continuous conversations that may or may not have had anything to do with the given situation they were in. Steve stops to think before answering the question.

“I actually think that is was *Susan. But I could be wrong.”

“That’s right.”


The men stay in place seemingly unbothered, or simply unaware, of the conversation happening next to them. Eventually a continuous series of “Dude, don’t put your hand there.” and re-positioning takes place before Olyvia begins to take photographs. We go through several rooms until we finally feel confident that enough pictures have been taken, and settle in for the interview.



SMF: What’s the history of Ensul? Because we have some original members and some that were later added in, right? How did all of that work out? 

Steve: [To Tristan] Do you want to take this one or do you want me to?

Tristan: No, I can take this one!

SJ: Alright man, take it!

TB: Steve and I started in two separate bands. He was in another band while Austin and I were in one called Finally United. I ended up meeting Steve from Craigslist and we got together with a guy names Zach to start Ensul. We got “Release the Virus” out and ended up having some problems so Zach left and we added Austin and Adam.

SMF: My favorites so far from listening to you guys would be “Shaving John Lennon” and “Politician Man” so I’m interested in the writing aspect. Who has been the writer for the songs and has that changes once adding new members? 

SJ: I’m glad you like those, because that’s some of our new stuff. We ended up disappointed with the last record. Not to say we didn’t try hard, we just didn’t as much as we should have. We cut a lot of corners.

SMF: Why? 

SJ: Timing, money-

TB: Internal issues-

SJ: Right, and we wanted to just get an album out. There were some things that were out of our control. I didn’t try hard enough to write the lyrics I should have for it. A few I thought were really good, “Politician Man” being one.

TB: “Politician Man” is actually the first song we wrote together as a band. Zach had that riff and Steve said “That’s cool, lets work with it!” and it went from there.

SJ: When we first came up with Ensul it was a three-piece band and Zach and I would trade up drums and guitar positions, depending on who originally wrote the song or whatever, but anyway since then our writing process has been 110% effort. We’ve worked hard, and I’ve killed myself writing these lyrics that mean something to me personally. Despite goofy name titles, there is meaning behind it. And I hope people figure it out. But for writing we don’t have any strict rules, usually it’s just me and I might grab one of these guys and say “Let’s try this out.” and then bring it to the band. But normally our stuff is made on-the-fly while jamming. So that’s our writing process! It’s stupid to put yourself into a box because then you’re missing out on more opportunities.

Austin: We don’t force it.

TB: We’ve never gone and said “Okay lets sit down right now and write this new song.” It just has to happen.

SJ: That’s why this new album is taking a long time. But the quality of this one is going to be a lot better, the production is going to be bigger, and the the engineering is going to be a lot better.

SMF: Any backlash that have figured out the meaning behind the songs yet? 

Both: [Not yet!]

SJ: With the new album I think a few people will be pretty offended.

TB: Yeah a few people will probably get pissed off, and we aren’t trying to do that necessarily, but it happens. We talk about what we know! We aren’t going to be up there talking about fucking eighteen woman at eighteen different shows or something like that, we’re going to stick with who we are.

SJ: It’s good to be a musician and being able to say what you want to say. To let all of that off of your chest. But the promoter guy that screwed over the guys from Sinema got called out and Jeremy said “Promoter fires at band, Ensul fires back with cannons!” Greg Harper deserved it though. He was a cancer to the music scene. And I would say that to his face.

SMF: From everything I’ve heard about him and things that have happened, both on and off the record, I can say I agree. 

SJ: And I got so many messages from calling that guy out, because it really needed to happen. Birmingham is too segregated in the music business anyway, with not enough working together as it is, so we didn’t need some guy diversifying us even more with money.


SMF: Who are influences here? This can be your Grandmother or Pantera, or both, just whomever inspires you. 

TB: Musically there are a few bands that stand out. Led Zeppelin and, I really love Shinedown, because they are one of the only modern rock bands I actually like. As for people around me, I grew up around music, my Mom owned a bar where she had bands play and that’s how I got into it. When I was 13 I said “That’s cool!” and I wanted to play bass.

SJ: My three biggest influences are easy. Radiohead, Nirvana, and Eminem. I love the heaviness and aggression of Nirvana, the weird noises from Radiohead, and the lyrics from Eminem. Those are the three artists on this planet that have really affected me.

TB: We do have matching Radiohead tattoo’s because we love them so much. I didn’t say Radiohead because I knew he would.

AW: First and foremost for me is Slash-

[Laughter from the band]

AW: He’s the reason why I started to play guitar in the first place! But of course Hendrix, Clapton, Jimmy Page. They set the bar for me. My Dad was in a band when he was younger so I’ve always listened to music and been around that, and he bought me my first guitar, at first I didn’t want to play but he talked me into it and I really liked it.

SMF: Now we go to the man that hasn’t said a word yet. 

Adam: Oh god. My musical influences would be Led Zeppelin and Foo Fighters, so definitely Taylor Hawkins, and for personal influences I’d say my brother. He’s always played drums. He’s a really good technical drummer so I looked up to him.

SMF: What about the flip side of things? How do you stay motivated when people are trying to discourage you? 

SJ: That’s just fuel to the fire!

AW: They are our motivation.

TB: Without them we’re nothing.

SJ: That’s how I’ve survived my entire life-

TB: Proving people wrong.

AW: If someone tells me I can’t do something, I’m going to do it.

SMF: Goals for 2015? 

TB: If we could get that album out this year I’d be amazed.

SJ: The Ensul you see now is still very, very, young.

TB: Technically it’s been two years, but I don’t count anything until Austin and Adam joined, so in February it’ll be a year.

SMF: A big problem for bands is getting that exposure you need and pushing through the fear of an empty room. How do you get yourselves out there and do you think social media has helped in the way you’ve hoped it would? 

TB: I’ve faced plenty of empty rooms but with social media, a lot of people bitch about it, but I think it helps.

SJ: The problem is standing out. There can be a lot of saturation with social media. Now we just do it the old fashion way because no one is doing that anymore! We’re relying on word-of-mouth and going up to people and saying “Hey, check us out.” and handing out CD’s and posters.

TB: It gives you a personal feeling you can’t get from Facebook.

SMF: If you could go back to the beginning and give yourself advice, what would it be?

SJ: It would have been to get into the studio as soon as possible and get that experience out of the way. With my first band, I had never done it before, so when we got into this big studio I got overwhelmed.

AW: I wouldn’t change anything. I’m completely happy where I am and where I’m headed.

AR: For me it would have been to practice harder.

TB: I’m with Austin, I wouldn’t change anything.

SMF: Any mishaps while on stage? 

SJ: That would be every show.

TB: Austin falls every time.

AW: Every one. But it’s easy to be in the moment and cover up a mistake, so it’s easily forgiven.

SMF: What goes into getting a show and how does a day prepping for one go? 

TB: Play the entire set before.

SJ: I usually go about with booking the shows.

TB: He’s done it for a very long time and is really good with it! If I ever was in a different band I wouldn’t know what to do.



We stay and talk for a while until the guys begin to unload the van of the music equipment still there and Olyvia and I decide it’s time for us to leave. She reassures me that she took enough photographs of the group and I double check that the recording has been saved onto my trusted iPhone and immediately make a mental note to myself that I really need to take Steve up on his offer for him to show me how to back up my interview files onto my computer. We leave with Pantera playing in the car and me swearing I know where I’m going this time, only to later make yet another U-turn even after Steve gave me directions to get back. I’ve known Ensul for a short period of time, but I leave confident in the interview, and in hopes that I will see them again soon, also blissfully unaware I would leave only to become obsessed with “Violent Dilliance” from their latest album. Steve’s voice is one I could listen to for years on end and never get tired of, and the instrumental side of things is nothing less of amazing. I’m blown away by Ensul, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.


“Hey, we always promised that we’d never have a serious photo shoot.”



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.”