Monday, March 9, 2009

Interview - Breathe Carolina

Lots of bands choose one style of music and stick with it. Breathe Carolina take a bunch of different styles and smash them together. What they come up with is their own unique brand of sound. Frontman Kyle Even happily took a break from all this creativity to answer a few of my questions.

PPJ: First, tell us your name and what you do in the band.

Kyle Even: I'm Kyle and I sing in Breathe Carolina!

PPJ: What initially got you interested in music? Who were some of your favorite bands growing up?

Kyle: My step brother was a huge influence because he would show us all kinds of bands and groups - started me on Green Day, White Zombie- then got me into 2pac and Bone Thugs! Those were some of my favorites as well!

PPJ: How did the music you were playing with your old bands evolve into what you're doing now with Breathe Carolina?

Kyle: Screaming in other bands helped! But musically nothing really stands out - I wouldn't be here without those people believing in me though! But the music is so different in writing, recording and playing that we had to figure out a lot on our own.

PPJ: You have a bunch of musicians who tour with you. Are they different people every tour? Do you ever consider making them permanent members - why or why not?

Kyle: They are the same every tour unless they don't want to come out- but it's been the same for a year now so I don't see it changing any time soon!! They are permanent to us - just 'cause they aren't in pictures doesn't make them less important- they'd still be doing the same things and nothing would change- we'll have to see what the future holds.

PPJ: What went into writing and recording It's Classy, Not Classic?

Kyle: We had to finish the record on the road cause we did it ourselves - David wrote, recorded and produced the whole record.

PPJ: Where did you come up with the name for your album?

Kyle: David thought it up- it's about living life as hard as you can without worrying about the past and future.

PPJ: What do you think of your fairly rapid rise to the public eye?

Kyle: Things have definitely grown quickly! I just hope people are having fun with what we've created! It's been amazing getting to play venues that we could have only dreamed about!

PPJ: How do you think you managed to grab peoples' attention so quickly?

Kyle: I don't know? I think that secret is with the people who have been listening to our songs! I have no idea!!

PPJ: How did you get in with Rise Records?

Kyle: Our manager is good friends with Craig from Rise- he sent our songs to him and he sent us a contract! We signed about 3 months later but he was the first to offer us a deal!

PPJ: What's the music scene in Denver like? Is it easy or hard to break out from there?

Kyle: It's easier than some places- the local scene is great! People are very supportive! No matter where you live it's gonna be hard to break- but Denver definitely gave us a step up!

PPJ: Have you been writing new songs? What are you hoping to do with your music now?

Kyle: Ya we have! We just want to make fun songs - songs we want to write and play - hopefully they'll reach someone on a deeper level- but as long as they hit us hard then that's all I can ask for!!

PPJ: What do you hope people will take away with them when they listen to your music?

Kyle: Have fun and be yourself!

PPJ: Finally, tell us three bands you think we should be listening to.

Kyle: Bring Me The Horizon, Emarosa and Anarbor.

Thanks again to Kyle for answering these questions, and to Mike Cubillos at Earshot Media for coordinating the interview. Be sure to pick up a copy of It's Classy, Not Classic and to see when Breathe Carolina is playing near you!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Interview - The Bigger Lights

The Bigger Lights hail from my hometown of Fairfax, VA, and I jumped at the chance to interview a band I've been watching grow and grow right in front of me. Guitarist J.K. was kind enough to answer my questions for him.

PPJ: First, tell us who you are and what you do in the band.

J.K. Royston: My name is J.K. and I play guitar and piano. I'm also one of the primary songwriters.

PPJ: You guys are from my hometown, Fairfax, VA. What was your experience with the music scene there? How do you think living so close to DC affected your band and your music?

J.K.: I'm not sure that the Northern VA scene really affected the type of music we play as much as I think it gave us an audience to expose it to. From day one, we set out with the intention to do something with a strong pop influence. Northern VA just happened to be the perfect scene for the type of band that we naturally gravitated towards being. We're really proud of our scene though. Between My Favorite Highway, The Friday Night Boys, and us, we've had three signings in the past year and I'm pretty sure that The Downtown Fiction is soon to follow. It's a really strong area for music right now.

PPJ: Tell us about how The Bigger Lights began.

J.K.: Dan and I were in a different band all throughout college. We hadn't been super happy with where that group was headed and made the decision to leave right before we graduated. We spent about nine months auditioning new players and working on different ideas before we discovered Topher singing in an upstart project. We quickly found that we all shared similar creative beliefs and decided to explore the notion of pursuing a project together. We started writing songs together and from there, The Bigger Lights was born.

PPJ: Where does the name of your band come from?

J.K.: The name was actually our friend Clint Herring's idea. It's taken from a Shakespeare play in which one of the characters refers to the stars as "the bigger lights." The reference was used as symbolism for the great unknown in life, which we thought was really cool.

PPJ: It seems like you guys have a page on every social network out there. Do you ever feel like you're putting too much of yourselves out there, or does the connection with the fans outweigh that?

J.K.: I think that social networking is a huge part of connectivity in today's social climate, so putting so much of yourselves out there has almost come to feel like a prerequisite to exposure. Of course, there are definitely downsides to being so connected to everything all the time but I think that in our case, the positive effects that social networking sites have had on our band's growth and exposure far outweigh the negative ones.

PPJ: What was it like to transition from local shows to nationwide tour dates?

J.K.: It's been an amazing experience. We're learning a lot about what it takes to put on a high caliber performance night after night and succeed on the road. Thankfully, we've been lucky enough to tour with some incredible bands that have been kind enough to teach us things they've learned along with way. I think we're definitely growing into a band that will be able to hold its own on any stage.

PPJ: Tell us about what went into writing and recording Fiction Fever.

J.K.: Fiction Fever was written over the course of about a year. Some of the tracks were recuts of tracks that were on our previously self-released EP while some of the tracks were new songs that we'd written since the release of our first EP. Ultimately, we wanted to make an EP that we thought was infectious and attention grabbing. We chose to work with producers Kenneth Mount and Zack Odom after having the chance to record a few demos with them right before signing to Doghouse. We're all really happy with how Fiction Fever turned out, but we're definitely excited to get back into the studio and explore new ideas for our next record.

PPJ: Do you have a favorite song you've written? Why or why not?

J.K.: As cliche as I'm sure it sounds, I think that we're proud of every song we release. I don't think I have a personal favorite because each of our songs holds a different place in my memory and affects me in a different way. All I know is that we will never release music we don't love and believe in with all of our hearts.

PPJ: How did you get hooked up with Absolute Management and Doghouse Records?

J.K.: Nano actually discovered us only a few weeks after we debuted our first demos online. He and Keith ended up coming to meet us at our third show. We spent about a month getting to know them and exploring a possible working chemistry before making the decision to work with them. Thankfully, they have become two of our closest friends and definitely our two most trusted opinions in this business. Doghouse actually took an interest in the band about six months after we launched. We showcased for several other labels around the same time but ended up making the decision to sign with Doghouse because we felt like they had a more natural passion for what we wanted our band to be.

PPJ: What are your favorite things to do while you're out on tour?

J.K.: Obviously, playing shows and meeting new fans is our favorite thing to do on tour. Other than performing, we love to find Panera breads and steal their wifi. We definitely watch a lot of Family Guy and read a lot in our van during the longer drives. Whenever we have time, we love to go see landmarks or explore cities we've never been to before.

PPJ: Do you have any future touring or recording plans yet?

J.K.: We'll likely be touring for most of the spring and summer before we head back into the studio to record our debut full length this August.

PPJ: Are you coming back to play at Jammin' Java anytime soon?

J.K.: I'm not sure exactly when we'll be playing Jammin Java again but I'm positive it won't be too long. That's one of our favorite places to play and we always love playing for our hometown friends and fans there!

PPJ: Finally, tell us three bands you think we should be listening to.

J.K.: Recently, I've been hooked on "In Rainbows" by Radiohead, "Only By The Night" by Kings Of Leon, and "How The Lonely Keep" by Terminal. You should definitely check all three of them out!

Thanks again to J.K. for answering these questions, and to Mike Cubillos at Earshot Media for arranging the interview. Be sure to check out The Bigger Lights on tour and pick up a copy of Fiction Fever!

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