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!
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