There’s something silencing about the rain. Despite the tapping of water against windows and the car tires bubbling the water as they accelerate down the road, the world is at rest, it seems.
Similarly, Moving Mountains’ self-titled album establishes the same feeling: silence through music. It puts the mind at ease, decreases the heightening thoughts to a minimum, and everything around the listener flatlines, allowing nothing but Gregory Dunn’s voice to trickle into the ears and throughout the body.
“Everything feels far away,” they sing in “Seasonal,” being the mood of the entire album in one lyrical line. The swaying guitar riffs and beating drums float listeners from track to track, the music never stopping, making this album one big lullaby.
“I fall down to the rhythm of losing you, but I still choose the comfort in finding you.” A harmonic line that introduces an instrumental solo in “Eastern Leaves.” Moving Mountains wouldn’t be who they are without their musical lines. They’re one band that doesn’t focus on vocals, having the whole band in the spotlight, not just the singer.
The single “Swing Sets” released in August, proves their unity as a band. The introduction is purely instrumental for more than the first minute of the track. Being the first track on the album, it sets the tone for the rest of the nine tracks: “So don’t talk now,” Dunn repetitively sings.
The whole idea of missing out on someone who completes oneself, being lost in the search for a home, is strung throughout. “Every feeling confused; we’ve got so much to lose,” ornaments the shortest track of the album, being just over two minutes: “Under a Falling Sky.” Short, but powerful.
Their consistency in tone, mood and theme is what makes this album. There’s no choppy back-and-forth that will tug listeners into completely different directions every three minutes or so. Instead, it sinks into a meditative state. Although sad, this album is like a glass of wine with a best friend who understands exactly what you’re going through.
Except, unlike wine, this album will never be empty or grow tired and fall asleep. So hit play, set it up to play on repeat, and let the world around you flatline.
On their sophomore album, The Things We Think We’re Missing, The Pennsylvania Alternative Rock quintet Balance and Composure have not only avoided the dreaded “sophomore slump” but have successfully expanded upon their original sound, maturing as a group without getting rid of their freshman charm and potential.
The album begins with a great divorced guitar intro on Parachutes, reminiscent of Circa Survive’s Blue Sky Noise, only a completely more aggressive wave length. Anthony Green makes a guest appearance on a later track, Keepsake, doing backup vocals.
Balance and Composure took a very strong direction with their three guitarists on Things, leaving behind the uniformity of Separation without losing their millennial-revival sound. Many of the unique, ambient guitar sounds that pervade the album can be attributed to the band’s recent sponsorship through fender.
Vocalist Jon Simmons has continued his vocal growth on Things, embracing his original croon and wine while dipping his feet into more extreme vocal runs, such as the throat-tearing “I’ll be scratching at the back door, won’t you let me in?, won’t you let me in? We both know what I came back for, won’t you let me in? Just let me in. Caught you looking out the window, dreaming what could be, then suddenly, got this eerie little tingle. Notice Me! Notice Me!” That draws far more emotion out of his voice than previous work and cuts in a much more raw sound, akin to Underoath vocalist Spencer Chamberlain.
While the beginning of the album enforces and shows were Balance and Composure shines, after the interlude Ella, the tracks begin to pick up a grungy almost desert rock tone through Cut Me Open, I’m Swimming and Reflection. It’s hard to believe that a group that personifies the sound of the early millennium can so easily pick up vibes from music that is almost two decades older, but after working with a production team including Will Yipp (Circa Survive, Title Fight, The Wonder Years) Brad Wood (Sunny Day Real Estate, Smashing Pumpkins) and Emily Lazaar (Foo Fighters, Against Me!) who have worked with so many different alternative artists over the years, it comes as no shock.
Things is not only a great example of how a band can overcome the sophomore slumps but also the test of time that Alternative Rock/Punk stands up to. This album could have easily been jammed between the center console of someone’s mom’s minivan in 2003 during a mall trip, or sitting on the 2-inch screen of an iPod Mini along with Taking Back Sunday, Brand New and Story of the Year.
It’s eerie that group of kids 10 years behind the curve can not only embody the sounds of a decade so well, but can still make those sounds relevant today.]]>
“Are you guys ready to quit your jobs and go fulltime?”
That’s a question that most truly passionate musicians would probably love to hear.
When members of the Chuck Schaffer Picture Show were asked that after entering the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands, it was pretty obvious how they felt about it.
“Well, yeah, duh. That would be awesome,” said Ryan Johnson, songwriter, guitarist and vocalist for the band.
Last November Johnson received news that the Chuck Shaffer Picture Show had won the online competition and would be going on tour with the Rockstar Uproar Festival alongside major headliners like Coheed and Cambria, Circa Survive, Jane’s Addiction and Alice in Chains.
Alongside members David Stiefel on bass and Adam Gilbert on drums, the three-piece rock band said the experience they’ve had on tour has been nothing short of genuine.
“You might think sleeping in this van sucks,” Johnson said, “but I think we kind of look forward to it. We can call it home.”
Part of winning the battle of the bands meant flying to L.A. in January of this year to start recording their EP with record-producer Jay Baumgarnder, whose shared the studio with past Uproar attendees like Sevendust, Godsmack, Three Days Grace and P.O.D.
The EP, titled Temporary Fix, was released on June 25. Inspiration for the songs comes from different emotional battles, Johnson said. And their current single “Nobody Remembers Fame,” is a sarcastic poke at the way the rock-star mentality gets pushed on everyone through lyrics and themes in the industry.
Johnson said he hears a lot of musicians singing about going to the club, partying and money, but CSPS isn’t really about that.
“It’s because we like music,” said Stiefel.
“All the songs—it’s almost like rap lyrics in rock songs,” Stiefel added, “but realistically, that’s not the way that it is—that’s our take.”
The tone of the industry represents something beyond fame and fortune to CSPS. It represents having fun and making music.
“It’s good to meet these artists, because we’re all people and we’re all getting along and it gels and it feels right,” said Gilbert. “So, this is probably the best tour we could have had as a first huge opportunity to come out together. The chemistry feels good and the people have been reacting well.”
Audience member, Matt Brooks, said CSPS wasn’t like the “generic bullshit” that he hears on the radio. They were, in fact, “pretty rad.”
One unique aspect about Uproar is the chance for up-and-coming bands to meet and mingle with artists that have been hitting the stage for over 25 years like Jane’s Addiction and Alice in Chains. Or collaborating and getting to know a newer scene with Circa Survive front man, Anthony Green.
CSPS has been absorbing tips from the seasoned veterans of the stage to get the most out of experiencing life as musicians on the road, while trying to learn from those who already have.
“You’ve got guys that were in Thin Lizzy, White Snake, Guns N’ Roses. A lot of these guys are older, they’ve lived that rock-star life and have kind of learned their lessons,” Stiefel said.
The band also played Warped Tour in St. Louis this year to jumpstart their festival-vibe, but had a much different experience. They compared Warped to more of a popularity contest as far as crowd response goes.
This tour, however, is perfect for them. They said Uproar is more family-oriented and provides an opportunity to get to know other bands, production managers and (quite importantly) the catering crew.
Their plans after Uproar are to rest, reboot and record some more music.
These guys are no first timers, having been a part of Warped Tour five times prior and being together for 22 years – longer than The Beatles. Reel Big Fish, a ska-punk band based out of California, revisits Warped Tour time and time again to live their life as not just musicians, but entertainers as well.
While people’s love of music has remained the same throughout the years, Johnny Christmas, trumpet player, has found that the digital revolution has been the biggest change in the industry, providing access the music industry has never dealt with before.
“It’s easier to get your music out there to fans that want to hear it, but it’s also hard to distinguish yourself if you’re an up-and-coming band,” Christmas explained. “How do you get your music out there so people will listen to it? How do you get their attention? That’s the most difficult thing.”
He described Reel Big Fish as distinguishable due to their soundtracks that are written for those who are ages 13-25. It’s relatable for the age group in school and they’re out looking for “real jobs and want to cut their arms off.” Their newest album “Candy-Coated Fury” is just a continuation of everything the band stands and plays for.
Christmas finds that their music really hits home to that specific demographic and that their albums are passed down generations through parents and siblings, due to their fun, happy music that is packed with angry lyrical lines.
“After people go home and cut their arms off, they come back with their kids, and go ‘oh my God, I can’t believe how good this show is.’”
For Reel Big Fish, their crowd regenerates; “they don’t really age,” Christmas said. There are always new faces at their shows, and while they keep on getting older, the crowd stays the same age.
He finds the regenerating crowd beneficial because it brings in new fans but keeps the old: the younger fans rock up front and the older stand in the back, and the way they relate to it is completely different but enjoyable on both ends.
Considering themselves a ska band, their musical style stays the same, but their skill improves, altering their record production. Throughout the span of 22 years as a band, their content stays consistent, too, focusing on everyday life experiences.
“We’re not a political band, so we’re not out to preach to anyone,” he said regarding the topics that they sing about.
They focus on interpersonal relationships and topics that the younger demographic can heavily relate to, but also that adults can reflect back on.
“The hardest thing to do as a human being is to interact with another human being. We’re all crazy to a degree… and telling everyone to fuck off, I think that’s big thing with us, and not in a mean way; it’s always half-hearted,” Christmas explained. “Yeah, you need to stand up for yourself, and not let these other people bring you down, but you also need to be able to laugh at yourself and not take yourself so seriously.”
This year being their second full Warped Tour, the best part for this band remains the same: the fans. It arises opportunity to meet a whole array of people – metal, dance and punk – all bands and fans that Anarbor would never usually tour with.
Their performance on the Domo Stage was loyal to their new and old fans, playing back to their earlier albums, as well as pulling from their newest “Burnout,” which was released June 4th.
Slade Echeverria, the lead singer and bassist, said the tour consists of a lot of late nights, rock music and drinking. Sounds like an ultimate dream, right?
“We’re just trying to put on a rock show,” Echeverria said about the band, saying they wouldn’t even be there if it weren’t for their fans. “It’s super organic. We don’t use any tracks. It’s all us, ya know? And we take pride in that, so we just want to come off as the rock band that we are.”
Aside from the dedicated fans who show their support at their performances and signings, Echeverria’s other favorite part was in Toronto the following day. Being from Phoenix and hardly getting any rain, he said that the washout weather was beyond just refreshing, he also loved it.
“It was pouring during our set, and it was so cool,” he said through a smile.
Warped Tour is significant to him because of the demographic that keeps it alive due to their love of music.
“Dude, it’s (Warped Tour) intense,” he said. “You’re sitting out in the sun all day, and not everyone wants to do that to see their favorite bands.”
Not only has he enjoyed meeting fans, but has listened in on a few other bands, some favorites being Reel Big Fish, who he said are “always rad” and Bring Me The Horizon who he feels is “killing it so far” this tour.
Looking forward to California tour dates, that being the band’s “hot spot” as he called it, Anarbor continues to showcase both their new and old songs, catering to all audience members.
“Burnout” is different but the same, Echeverria claims, saying it’s different music by the same style that fans love is there.
The newest album focuses on how growing up can really suck, but they push for people to embrace their individuality and not care what others think of them.
“We’re still the same band, just writing different songs.”
Originating from Michigan and Canada, they claim the Great Lakes region to be their “place,” and having one of their best-yet performances, The Swellers, needless to say, have been having a productive shift in their record label from Fueled by Ramen to No Sleep Records.
Chris Hansen, founder of No Sleep Records, was always telling the band he wanted them to do an album with them, but they had already been signed to another label. Once being independent for a while, the band decided to sign back with a label, this time with Chris’ No Sleep Records.
Nick Diener, lead vocals and guitarist, said it’s a great label run by great people because of how quick they work, how well it’s organized and how personable it all is.
No Sleep Records produces split records, and Diener said they haven’t looked into it yet, but would love to put one out there by next year. If he got to choose a band to split with, he thinks Motion City Soundtrack would go hand-in-hand with The Swellers’ music.
After Warped Tour, the band is looking forward to playing with Story of the Year in Brazil for three days. Diener said The Swellers have played with Story of the Year on every continent they have ever performed on, saying that they’re “really cool dudes” and always look forward to playing with them again.
Come fall, The Swellers are gearing up for the release of their new album, hopefully to be released in October, and plan a tour in time to take off some time for the holidays.
“We’re going to tour smarter, instead of touring more,” he explained. “The Swellers have been on tour for seven years straight except for a six month break we just took. So that was really, really intense, and we were never off for more than 6-8 weeks at a time.”
By taking a break from tour, Diener hopes to be able to focus on family and friend relationships, writing more music and working on his house – things he has not been able to dedicate time to since his graduation from high school.
“It gets boring being in a band,” Diener said about trying to perform at every single venue offered with the same music. “It’s like, ‘cool, you’re gonna go play these same venues, with these same bands, you’re gonna go get paid this much, the promoter’s gonna be mad because it didn’t sell out, blah blah, ya know? I just want to try some new stuff.”
This new record label and opportunity for time off has sparked inspiration for new creativity, and while Diener said he has a lot of great ideas, he knows many are “backfire-able,” but wants to work toward them anyway.
These creative ideas, though, are being withheld for a surprise, so stay tuned in this fall for unpredictable creative surprises, thanks to Diener and the rest of the band.
With all of the touring with Vans Warped Tour and other side venues, Diener said he really wants to play some garage and basement acoustic shows, keeping it small and simple.
“I want to do a lot more acoustic stuff, just like a lot of fun and all jammin’ together; no microphones necessary, intimate stuff,” he said.
They have recognized that they’re a smaller band and are not going to act like the Foo Fighters, he said, and by pulling back a bit, he believes it will open up some other opportunities that they haven’t taken advantage of yet as a band.
Their upcoming record can be considered one of the most reltable yet, Diener said, an underdog record, themed around “a dude in (his) mid to late twenties, just watching everyone around (him) doing big things and everybody kindof changing, just trying to adjust,” Diener explained. “We as people just need to keep working all the time, no matter what it is. Keep going…nothing’s going to drag us down. But we’re not going to be 100 percent positive all of the time because shit sucks sometimes.”
It’s always been cool to, well, be cool, but what about a nerd? Hip-hop artist MC Lars embraces knowledge in his art, making it his own cool-vibe with songs
like “Flow Like Poe,” a rap referring to poet Edgar Allan Poe. Rapping about classic literature and not being ashamed? Now that is cool.
Vans Warped Tour 2013 jam-packed their lineup with all types of genres, hip-hop being one of many, but MC Lars was able to stick out from the group with his unique lyrics, catchy beat and interactive personality with the crowd.
He toured with Warped Tour in 2011 and rocked out the silent disco tent in 2012, but said he feels like he is getting more respect this season and feels like he belongs with performing on the Spotify hip-hop stage.
“I’m finally getting accepted for my laptop rap music,” he said. “I’m able to work the crowd more, and I feel more joyful.”
He said he’s been performing songs off of his Edgar Allan Poe EP that came out last year and has been getting really good feedback from his fans.
“You would think people would not want to hear 19th century anti-transcendentalist rap…but it’s been really cool,” he explained. “You just gotta be like, ‘who loves Shakespeare? Shakespeare’s awesome! And the kids are like, ‘Ah!’ And that’s what’s cool about it.”
Picking at his salad with chopsticks and bumping his head along to Anarbor playing at the Domo Stage in the background, MC Lars smiles talking about his fans, which he classifies as “the nerds of the nerds,” as well as the ska-heads, gamers, sci-fi lovers… the list goes on.
He said he loves Warped Tour because of how eclectic and diverse it is, and appreciates how it is run. Kevin Lyman, the man who runs the tour, is not about making a lot of money, MC Lars said. He’s about building the indie and punk rock community up.
“It’s got the right ethos,” he said.
He also likes the collaboration between Vans Warped Tour and different organizations and associations – such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Canvas Foundation (promoting art education) – making the tour contribute to community service.
It’s the fact that the festival is for the music and the community and not the money, that makes MC Lars a supporter of it all.
Because Warped Tour is a younger demographic, he wants to show the audience that his new music is as good as his old, with the same high-energy levels. He finds that many of his listeners picked him up from their older sibling’s music, and he wants to keep getting all the “kids hooked…in a good way.”]]>
Powering through the exhaustion, Jesse Johnson, keys for Motion City Soundtrack, aims to please both the band’s oldest and newest fans, playing songs from all five of their records, including songs from their newest album “Go.”
“(We’re here to) play for people who haven’t seen us before… to play for people who maybe have just heard of us, all those new people,” Johnson said.
Having been on Warped Tour for eight times now, Johnson has found that himself and the band have gotten into a routine.
“It makes it easier when you get into a pattern,” he explained.
The opportunity to play for new people is what brings Motion City Soundtrack year after year, he said.
“It’s always fun when our fans show up who know us and sing along, but the real fun thing is when you meet somebody at the signing that says, ‘Oh my God, I’ve never seen you guys before, and that was so much fun’ or something like that. That’s what’s exciting for us,” Johnson said.
He defines the band as a pop band, saying that is what sets them apart, as well as the fact that they don’t scream. He finds that their style has the ability to reach out to those who may also like other type of music, having seen people attend signings with screamo band shirts on.
“Hopefully, everybody likes a hook in a song.”
Visiting one city at a time, the Vans Warped Tour brings out the people that strive to be different, expressing themselves through their fashion choices, art on their skin and what music they blast through their earbuds. This isn’t a festival where people waste time in the parking lot sucking down beer, but rather they herd into line at the gate, waiting to be set free into a world they can explore in every summer. The thumping beat of their life-saving music is more than just a genre, it’s a lifestyle. We’ve all heard pop-punk is dead, but here it isn’t. These “warped” people go through every year waiting for when the Vans-sponsored concert series stops in a city near them.
Warped Tour isn’t just a collaboration of some garage high school bands that kids listen to in order to feel rebellious. No, this tour is a mix-and-match of music of all genres that listeners praise because of the bands’ deep sense of understanding and connection to each and every one of their fans.
With bands of all genres – screamo, metal, punk, ska, rap and hip hop, to DJ – many bands appreciate the tour for all that it is just as much as the fans do.
Nathaniel Motte of the electronic pop duo 3OH!3 said the best part of Warped Tour is the involvement from everyone.
“It breaks down the walls between the fans and the bands,” Motte said.
And with nine+ stages set up around Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, all blaring music, surrounded by die-hard fans, sponsored tents with discounted merch and scheduled band signings, how could one not get involved?
Click the band names below to read our interviews from the Vans Warped Tour below:
Reel Big Fish
Motion City Soundtrack
Westchester, NY ambient indie rockers Moving Mountains will release their 3rd full-length on September 10 via Triple Crown Records.
The self-titled effort is the full length follow up to their Triple Crown debut Waves. Since the release of Waves in the summer of 2011 the band had been on the road non-stop, including tours with Biffy Clyro, Coheed And Cambria, Thrice, O’Brother and many others.
For the new album the band went into the studio with Matt Goldman (Underoath, The New Frontiers, Copeland).
Guitarist/vocalist Gregory Dunn says, “The album took over a year to write, and was definitely one of the more difficult experiences we shared together as a band. We were traveling quite a bit, figuring out a lot of things both personally and musically. All of that certainly played a major role in how the record evolved. I like to think it’s a very intimate, and warm record — sort of nestled during a very chaotic time.”
The band has posted a video teaser for the album here: http://www.movmou.com.]]>