All photos by Taylor Markarian
On March 20th, thousands of people gathered at Terminal 5 in New York to see some of the absolute biggest names in heavy music. With international sensation Bring Me The Horizon headlining, the mighty Underoath and the fiercely aggressive Beartooth took the stage. Check out some of the shots we got that night below!
The Mayfair, a project molded by the former drummer of Illuminate Me (Sebastian Quintero), just streamed the title track of its upcoming release Glass House. The upcoming seven song release was produced by none other than Aaron Gillespie, whom many know as the former(ish) drummer of Underoath.
For those of you who knew Illuminate Me, who recently called it quits, The Mayfair sounds nothing like that. What does it sound like? See for yourself HERE, and be sure to check out The Mayfair’s previous EPs, Ghost and This Is Love & Letting Go on bandcamp.
Glass House will be out on January 22nd.
Some weeks ago, Underoath announced they were coming back from the dead for their Rebirth Tour in 2016. Needless to say, everyone who grew up on this band and spilled countless tears when they disappeared nearly died of happiness at this announcement. But Underoath have impacted more than the average concert goer. Many bands in the scene today continue to be influenced by the monumental group, such as I The Mighty who have just put out an acoustic cover of Underoath’s song “Writing On The Walls.” In the video below, the band explain that the reason for the cover is to celebrate Underoath’s reunion. Check it out, and watch Underoath’s original music video after to compare!
When you think “Do It Yourself,” you are probably thinking about self-promotion, self-production, and self-release. However, sometimes doing things yourself also can mean making it yourself, as was the case with The Ongoing Concept‘s second full-length release, Handmade. In one of the most unexpected and delightfully surprising moves in the contemporary scene, The Ongoing Concept broke ground when they announced they had physically handmade all of the instruments they used to record their latest record.
From cutting down trees, finding the perfect angles to shape a drum head, and writing a solid follow up to their debut, we caught up with vocalist and guitarist Dawson Scholz to get the inside scoop on all the handcrafted work that went into bringing about Handmade.
What was the mindset going into writing and recording Handmade?
We are always changing so I feel our mindset is never consistent, but I know we went into it wanting it to be something other than a Saloon 2.0. We wanted something raw, something from the ground up, and overall, we wanted something that was a concept without it being a typical “concept album” that involves some sort of lyrical or story type theme.
How did you plan to follow up after Saloon was so well received?
We didn’t really know to be honest. Saloon was years in the making. It felt like our life’s work and to follow up with any debut album is tough. We spent months and months writing. We weren’t going to submit an “OK” album so we were prepared to take longer than expected to get the record done. If we weren’t happy with the product, we weren’t going to release it.
What have been some other major musical influences you guys have had?
It might sound really cliché or even stupid to say this but for the past two records, my major musical influences hasn’t been music at all. I found that what influences me is not the music itself, but the drive, branding, or just the overall influence the artist who releases that music has on the culture or scene at that particular time. I have always wondered how certain songs become songs or even records we listen to for years and years after they are released and how others become a fad for a particular month or year. There is a way certain bands have captivated people with their records. They have made them works of art, something beautiful, something you think back on later and still go, “Wow, this album is still great.” I look at bands like Underoath, Bring Me The Horizon, or even Brand New. I don’t really even listen to these bands, but they have become huge influences of mine because they have left a huge imprint of what music is today.
So for this album you guys actually handmade the instruments you used to record with. What inspired this action?
We have always been a “do it yourself” type band. We are drawn to doing things we never thought we could do. We have always been into concepts (as our name kind of states). [Laughs] I love concept albums and how they bring about a story or an idea into something whole. I wanted to do a concept album, but I didn’t want to do an album that was a story or some lyrical concept that unfolded throughout ten songs. I wanted something beyond the actual music itself. I was looking up building a guitar one day and the whole handmade concept hit me. It seemed impossible at the time to pull something like that off and I think that in itself is what inspired me.
Do you guys have a background in wood shop or did you learn how to do all of this for the project?
We have built our own guitar cabs and stuff but no, no wood shop background class at all. Kyle [Scholz, vocals and keys] does a lot of construction so I guess that helped a lot. Most of it was trial and error though. It was a bit nerve-racking to be honest.
What was the most difficult thing you guys had to make?
Certain parts of the building process were a one chance don’t mess this up type deal, most notably the part where we routed the edge of the drum shells. Kyle had to do a ton of math and very articulate cuts to get that very fine slopped edge the drum head sits on to create the resonance of the drum shell. Messing that up would’ve meant the drum shell was basically not useable anymore. Kyle is kind of a genius so a lot of that went over my head and I have no idea how he accomplished it.
How many trees were cut down in the process of making this album?
Just one. It was a fairly large tree. We actually have a lot left over which we may use to make some cool little pre-order incentives!
What led you to want to do a video documentation of hand making these instruments?
In this day, people want proof of everything. Saying we built it all from hand is not good enough. We just wanted to actually show that all this happened. Also, there is a lot more that goes into making an instrument that can’t really be explained without some sort of visual. We wanted to show everything, even our mistakes.
You guys have such a fun album cover. What inspired the image you guys chose to use for the album?
Thank you! We tried out a few different album covers but ended up with that one. We were kind of wanting to go back to the classic rock type records. We feel bands have strayed away from album covers that incorporate the band itself. So many classic rock albums are iconic for that. I thought it would be a good way to promote the whole handmade concept.
What would you say are some of your favorite tracks on the album and why?
I think my favorite songs would be “Unwanted,” “Amends,” “Soul,” and even “Melody.” I feel those songs are our most poppy and mature songs so far.
Can we expect the return of a banjo on any of these upcoming tracks?
Ha! No, you won’t unfortunately. The banjo fit “Cover Girl” but there weren’t any songs on this new album that fit having a banjo again. Maybe you will see it again but we won’t put it in another song unless we feel it actually fits.
Do you guys have any music videos currently planned in support of Handmade?
We have two in the works right now. Be on the lookout for them!
This is your second record with Solid State Records after previously releasing two independent EPs. How has the transition been from self-releasing your work to having a label been the last few years?
Having a label behind you makes it much more of a business than a hobby. A lot more money is involved. Releasing those two EPs felt much more like a fun hobby than an actual job.
You guys have an upcoming tour with Dayseeker that was just announced. How are you guys preparing for those shows?
Kyle is actually getting married here in the next couple weeks so it’s been a bit hard to prepare. I think you can easily expect to see us play a few songs from the new album though!
What sets a show with The Ongoing Concept apart?
I feel we bring a really fun and memorable show. I don’t want our band to be that cool movie you saw in theaters but wasn’t quite good enough to pay the $10 to see it again. I feel each member brings something different and we try to keep the audience guessing.
Describe The Ongoing Concept in one word.
The following is the first interview in our ongoing serial “Women of Hardcore.” For more from the serial click here.
After a morning of speaking on panel, loitering in empty bars themed after literary eccentrics Oscar Wilde and H.P. Lovecraft, and meeting with an artist for a friend’s tattoo consultation, I remember it’s almost time for my interview with Katie Cole, drummer of Ohio band Dangerkids. Stranded in the lower east side of perhaps the loudest city in the world, I try to find a quiet place. The bar I end up in is playing music and has no service. Turning the corner, I cubby myself in the frame of the backdoor to protect Cole’s answers from the wind. There, she tells me all about the upcoming Dangerkids record, the band’s recent tour in Europe, and how to laugh it off when dudes think you’re the drum tech and not the drummer.
First thing’s first, I apologize for New York City’s screeches. “It’s okay,” she assures me, “I was just in the weirdest place ever. I was trying to find a quiet place too. I went into this coffeehouse; it was so loud and no one spoke English.”
“Where are you?”
Though the drummer is back at home, she and her bandmates recently ended their European tour–where you’d actually expect a coffeehouse to be filled with non-English speakers.
“What was your favorite place you visited?”
“Scotland. Just ‘cuz everyone there’s crazy. They just like to party and have fun.”
Anyone who has heard Dangerkids’ debut record, Collapse, knows that fun is a big part of the band’s M.O. I tell her how the first time I saw the Rise Records band, they were opening for We Came As Romans in NYC. We all know that opening bands can be pretty insufferable, but Dangerkids were so assured and animated they nearly stole the show. It’s a refreshing change of attitude in a scene where bands can take themselves too seriously.
“I get excited to play any time,” she says, “so I smile the whole time. We all get really pumped.”
“During that night’s set over a year ago, Tyler (Smyth, M.C.) said something between sets about not letting anyone tell you you can’t do something, especially because of your gender. Do you have any personal experience with that?”
“I honestly don’t get as much hate as I ever expected to,” she admits. “Obviously there are some people who will judge you or think you’re not gonna be good at what you’re doing because you’re a girl, but I don’t see it too much. Most people who hate the most on it have never even listened to us or haven’t even seen us play. I feel like after people watch us they don’t tend to hate on it as much. A lot of people think it might be a gimmick or something like that, but they tend to respect it after we play.”
I share with her that when I go up to band members after shows, sometimes guys automatically assume I’m a groupie.
“Yeah, God I hate that! No, that’s so crazy. I’ve seen that so many times and it makes me so angry. People always think that I’m doing merch or that I’m a drum tech or something. That was the funniest thing. We played this show and I was sitting on my drums, about to play, and one of the sound guys on stage was getting so angry. He was just like, ‘Where’s the drummer?!’ And I’m like, ‘I’m the drummer. I’m setting up my stuff…’
“He didn’t even know you were in the band?”
“Exactly. No one ever thinks that when I’m setting up my drums. They’re just like ‘Oh, she’s just setting them up.’
“That’s kind of cool though, on the other end of it, because you get to surprise them.”
“Yeah. I don’t let it bother me. I think it’s funny.”
“That’s a good attitude to have about it.”
“Yeah, you should be that way too.”
Interrupting the interview, an old, unshaven man hobbles by and stops to talk to me about some nonsense. I point to the phone. He keeps talking until finally, my frantic hand motions are enough to shoo him away. I return to Cole in my ear, talking about playing Rock On The Range on May 15th. “Other than that [we’re] just finishing the album,” she says. “Once we get that done we’ll be able to play a lot more shows.”
“What can you tell me about the new album?”
“I really really love it. I love the direction that it’s going. It just sounds more like Dangerkids. We’re developing into our own style. There’s a lot more radio rock, a little bit less screaming. But it’s really cool, I feel like anyone can get into it.”
“What was one of your favorite songs off your first record?”
“One of my favorites is ‘Cut Me Out.’ That’s one that a lot of people don’t really know; it’s not one of our big singles. I really like that one, it’s really fun to play on drums. ‘We’re All In Danger’ is probably my favorite to play on drums because it’s so fast—it’s exhausting.”
“I know you said the new record is going be more radio rock, but is it still going to be that fast-paced vibe that we got from the first album? Or is it gonna be totally different?”
“There are a couple heavy ones that if you’re into heavy music you’ll be like (she cheers). There’s also a couple really fast songs. We actually opened with one of them when we were in Europe. So it’s got a lot of similar stuff as the first record. I think anyone that liked that record will definitely love this next record.”
Wrapped in what she’s saying, I hardly pay any mind when someone bursts through the backdoor I’ve been sheltering in and slams my body off onto the sidewalk. It’s also warm enough outside that the ice cream trucks are on patrol and sounding their creepy songs down the street. Note to journalists: Avoid this situation at all costs.
With a finger in one ear I concentrate on Cole with the other as she begins to tell me more about her touring experiences.
“Our first tour was with Sleeping With Sirens. The first show—I think it was in Atlanta; it was at the Masquerade—we went on and in the middle of our first song [“Countdown”] the track cut out. It ended up being okay, but it’s always really scary when that stuff happens.”
“Who are your favorite bands to tour with?”
“Sleeping With Sirens is really fun to tour with. I really like We Came As Romans. We toured with Silverstein too which I thought was really cool ‘cuz that’s one of the bands that I used to listen to all the time.”
She pauses, then adds, “I don’t really listen to a lot of heavier bands. I’ll check them out and I like it, but I usually listen to pop and emo music from back in the day.”
“What other bands do you listen to from back then?”
“I love The Used; they were one of my favorites. I was obsessed with Green Day when I was younger; they got me into everything. Taking Back Sunday…any band like that. But The Used is definitely my favorite. I love Underoath too, they were great.”
We bond over the importance of Underoath for a minute. “Aaron Gillespie is my favorite drummer,” she says. “I really looked up to him for a long time and he kind of helped my style develop. He just plays interesting things. I’ve never seen someone play the types of beats that he plays, and he has so much energy live. He’s really fun to watch.”
“Favorite Underoath song?”
She goes with the anthem, “Reinventing Your Exit.”
“How would you describe Dangerkids in one word?”
Cole struggles for a moment. Finally, she comes to an answer. “Motivational,” she chooses. “A lot of our songs are about getting through tough times. It’s crazy how music can do that. I’ve always really liked sad music and film scores. If I’m ever feeling down, I listen to that kind of stuff because you just feel it so much. If I’m not doing that I’ll listen to Kesha.”
“People always take very different views of the saying ‘Music saved my life.’ Where do you stand on that?”
“I feel like my whole life basically revolves around music. If it wasn’t for music I wouldn’t be playing drums, or be in a band, or doing anything that I love, really. I’ve always loved to be able to travel and play for people. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have music. So I think that’s definitely true for me. I think it’s true for everyone in the band.”
Before hanging up, she turns back to the film score question and divulges that her favorite soundtracks are from Titanic and Forest Gump. Last words? “Hans Zimmer is dope.”
Expect the release of Dangerkids’ sophomore full-length record sometime this summer.
For All I Am stand front and center on the stage of the famous dingy basement known as The Studio @ Webster Hall in New York City. The post-hardcore group has fans lined up against the base of the stage waiting for the first pinch harmonic-filled riffs to come in. Vocalist Aria Yava breaks into a guttural growl and immediately there is newfound community, as kids who have seen the band a hundred times and kids who’ve never even heard of them head bang to the beat. Before long Yava is handing off the mic to various guest vocalists who are coming up on stage and roaring out each lyric with as much gusto as they can muster and admiration in their eyes as they look over at Yava. Together they share the stage, bouncing energy off one another for a few bars before the cameo-vocalists step aside. But they are not walking off stage back with the rest of the tour crew. These kids are walking back into the crowd as fans who just got the chance to sing alongside their favorite band and convince the crowd it was all meant to happen instead of being a spur of the moment occurrence. This happens several times throughout For All I Am’s set; Yava even brings local scene star Christopher Tito of Zoúme on stage with him for a verse. At this point even the club’s bartenders and bouncers are watching. Suddenly, the entire venue becomes the stage.
After the incredible live performance these Illinois natives brought to Manhattan, we needed to know more about For All I Am. So we hit up Aria Yava to chat about the band’s latest album, their experiences playing live, and of course, their incredible fans.
HXC: Congrats on your latest release, No Home. What was the inspiration behind such a bold album title?
Aria Yava: It’s not like a literal title, it’s a kind of an analogy for your mind. Your home is known as a comfort place. So “no home” actually means you don’t have comfort in your own skin.
Is that idea of “no home” where your mindset was when you went into that album?
It wasn’t just me, actually. It’s the whole band. We went through a couple things together personally where we did feel like that and that’s why we wrote that album together and for anyone who kind of feels that way. I know people go through rough times and have different phases through their lives. A lot of people I’ve talked to at shows actually feel like they don’t have a comfort of their own skin or even in their own homes, literally, because of their family or because of insecurities. So we wanted to write an album that relates to those kinds of people.
Do you think people can kind of find that “home” then at local shows?
I don’t know if shows are a home, but they’re definitely more of an escape from whatever they’re dealing with. When I go see my favorite bands I feel like I don’t have any problems. I just kind of forget about it for a little bit and just enjoy some good music. Sometimes that’s what people need just to keep moving forward.
Who would you say is your favorite band?
As of now it’s kind of hard to tell. I haven’t been going to a lot of shows since I’ve been on the road lately, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Define the Great Line by Underoath. My favorite artists, my whole life, have been Underoath, Paramore, Architects, those kind of bands, just like the raw bands that don’t use too much production with sounds that really rock.
Are these the kind of the bands that initially inspired you to pursue music?
Going to see Underoath for my first time really changed my perspective on music. That’s when I really wanted to play music and do the help-people-that-are-helping-me type thing. I kind of discovered the power of music and how it moves through people. It’s like a universal language; no matter what language you speak, you can still understand what music is.
We caught your New York show on the Mind Games Release Tour. You had fans getting up on stage with you to do guest vocals with you. It was crazy.
Yeah, I know. It’s like a regular thing. We don’t hold ourselves to any entitlement, to having the stage to ourselves. The show is for everyone there, for everyone to have a good time, us as artists, listeners and even the staff and the promoters. Everyone just wants to have a good experience, so we make sure that’s easily achievable.
Do you have any favorite venues?
I definitely like the Ground Floor in [Williamsport], Pennsylvania. Their hospitality is unreal and they have a built-in fan base which is really cool because all the fans check out all the bands that go through. They all give them a chance, which is awesome and that’s what every scene should kind of do. Everyone should be open minded and just enjoy the music.
“We don’t hold ourselves to any entitlement, to having the stage to ourselves.”
Do you prefer playing shows with barriers or ones without?
You know, unpopular statement: definitely both. They both have their own vibe and both have their own experience. Sometimes I do like stage diving and I do like when people grab the mic, but I also like when I can have the stage and I can lose myself in the music and in the performance aspect.
Do you have a favorite track to play live off of No Home?
I definitely like “Six Souls.” It’s really heavy and hard hitting, but the other song I like is “Out of Line” because it kind of relates to what I always go through all the time and it helps me cope with it. It’s also a really good, energetic song for the crowd to have a good time to. So, I think those two are my favorites for sure.
You said you really liked to play “Six Souls.” Is that why you wanted to do the video for that song?
Well actually management and the label chose the songs that we shot for, so it was up to them, but we were stoked on their decision and we fully agreed with them, too. There’s also more [videos] coming, so I’m going to be working on those soon.
Do you have any concepts for them yet?
Yeah, we’re running a lot of storyboards and coming up with more specific ideas. We want to go in more with the concept of the songs and the messages in them are going to be more symbolic with our band and kind of go a different route.
Would you say that’s something you prefer to do, something more theatrical than just the minimalistic club show vibe?
I believe so. There’s a lot of bands that are all kind of talking about the same thing lyrically, so we want to do what we do as a band and kind of go in specifically. I feel like more people relate when you kind of relate to them more closely because they’re dealing with something more specific. We kind of like make lyrics so people can take it with them and progress and move forward with what they’re doing rather than just say ‘Hey, we’re here for you.’ Realistically, we can’t be there for everyone all the time; it’s impossible. No one can do that, so we want to really lay it down with the music and help them take away something from it.
You can tell you really care about your fans.
Oh yeah, it’s definitely important. If you don’t pay attention to that you’re kind of leading a pointless career in my opinion.
So if you could sum up For All I Am in one word, what would it be?
Real. That would be the best way to put it. Nothing is fake. We don’t do anything for image. We don’t sell ourselves, we just kind of put everything out there genuinely and hope people take it as genuinely.