Tyler Hilton

Some first saw this next artist when he was opening for Hanson yet some saw him as the king himself Elvis Presley to one you loved to hate on One Tree Hill to playing Taylor Swift'€™s '€œDrew'€ but no matter what you may think of him, Tyler Hilton writes some mighty good love songs. He may not have been the biggest artist on mainstream radio but his presence was surely known and after a bit of hiatus and writing with some larger then life artists like Lady Antebellum and Michelle Branch, he'€™s back and for good! Releasing a new EP '€œLadies and Gentleman'€ to preview some of his new record coming out very soon, he was a perfect fit for direct support on the latest Spill Canvas headliner this past Spring.
I got the chance to share a coffee with Mr. Hilton during the tour where we talked about everything from how he first got interested in doing music to how he believes the new material is doing to the varied tour he found himself on with The Spill Canvas, AM Taxi and New Politics. I saw what I believe to be the true Tyler and he showed it through out the whole interview. I'€™m looking forward to what he puts out musically and hopefully his roles as musicians carry on to his real life career!

If you could tour with any three dream artists/bands, who would they be?
Okay, Jackson Brown would be awesome. Um, John Mayer would be really cool and probably Patti Griffith. That would be awesome.

What made you personally get interested in doing music as a career?
I was really young and I didn'€™t know there was much of a career in it. All I knew is I wanted to be Elvis at some point. I was just thinking you know like when I was a kid, I just wanted to be like that and I just kept singing and I wanted to be like Robert Johnson or some kind of blues man all through out high school. I thought I was going to be a poor musician like always until I got signed right before I went to college. I was like '€˜woah this is like, I guess I can do this for a career'€™. Otherwise, I was just going to go to college and then just travel around playing music you know.

Then it'€™s been a while for new music for you but you have the new EP out I believe and then the new record coming out later this year. What can fans look forward to with this record, like is it different then the first ones?
Um, it'€™s different in that this is the first record that I'€™ve ever had to like sit down and make because the other ones I had already written when I wasn'€™t a professional. Like the first record I put out, I was just in high school and then the second record I put out was right after high school so they were all songs that I had written before so I never like sat down and made the record and had written it as a professional musician. This record was all written on the road and then a lot of it was written, when you know I was actually kind of sitting down and just thinking and just wanting to write songs which I never really had kind of happen before and this is kind of the first record where I'€™ve opened up and written with other people on it too. I think the reason is that what I ended up doing was like I wanted the record to sound like really great, have it say what I wanted it to say and what I was kind of feeling and I just kind of could picture it and I just wanted it to sound like that so I really kind of tried to work with people who I thought could make it sound like what I wanted.

You'€™ve been on this tour for a while, and it'€™s been a while for you between tours. How have the shows been?
Really good. I didn'€™t expect that. I thought maybe kids would have gotten the record and maybe know some of the lyrics but not know all of them or I didn'€™t even know this many people would have gotten it but every night we'€™ve been playing, people have been like singing all the songs in the crowd. It'€™s been crazy. It'€™s been really cool, I can'€™t believe it.

Then what would you say is your favorite part of touring?
Definitely like the being on stage part you know. It'€™s such like a twenty four hour situation like being on the road but being on stage is the best. I love it because every night'€™s different. It'€™s not the same thing and every night the crowds are different and they want different things. It'€™s just all different every night. There could be some people you really like hanging out with in the front row or maybe in the back it'€™s really exciting. I don'€™t know, but it'€™s just all kind of different. It'€™s really fun.

Then what can fans maybe look forward to with these live shows?
I think in the scheme of shows it seems like just a pretty light hearted show. We have a lot of fun and especially on this tour, we only have forty five minutes so we'€™re just like really excited to be out there and it'€™s not that serious. I mean it'€™s just really a lot of fun you know and I really like it. We just want to always feel like really good and really happy and really helpful and I feel like the audience feels that way when we leave. I feel like everyone'€™s really had a good time.

You'€™ve been doing music for a really long time now. how do you feel you'€™ve really grown as an artist from like the first record?
I think I'€™m less inclined to set career goals for myself now and more inclined to set like personal or creative goals like I want to be happier when I'€™m making music that makes me smile or that inspires me as opposed to being like I want to be selling out venues or I want to be selling millions of records. I think when I was a kid I was like '€˜woah, I want to be a rock star'€™ you know and now I think it helps me more to just try and follow my creativity and see where that takes me.

Then I know you'€™ve had a charity for kids. How did that first come about like why for this specific cause?
Well, I'€™ve always really liked reading and it really helped me creatively and also with like a lot of different situations that I'€™ve encountered in life and when I was kind of thinking of charities to be a part of it was probably just on a drive or something and I was just kind of thinking that I can'€™t solve every problem in the world and there'€™s no one charity I can get involved with that would really change everything and I really wanted to kind of think how I could make it better for the world. So I started thinking that like if we help child literacy, it kind of gives kids in all different areas of the world a base for knowledge and a base for intelligence that will eventually maybe help them help themselves and their areas they'€™re in. Reading is just kind of a universal thing. It'€™s just like this skill that everyone should be good at or can learn from.

Then with the new record, what can fans look forward to, maybe more touring, shows?
Yeah especially since it'€™s been so long since I'€™ve been in the studio like touring I think is going to be something I really want to get back to.

Then, if you could collaborate with any other maybe artist that you'€™ve toured with, who do you think they would be and what do you think the material would be about that came out of it?
I would actually really like to write with Nick, the guy from Spill Canvas. We keep talking about it and I think that would be really fun. Actually it'€™s weird. This is one of those tours where I'€™ve always kind of written with or hung out with a lot of people that I'€™ve toured with pretty much everybody actually that I'€™ve toured with. These guys I haven'€™t with and every band on the tour I really like and I love their song writing and I'€™ve talked to all of them about writing with them already so hopefully it will work out you know.
And they'€™re all really different. Like AM Taxi is more classic rock.
Yeah, they remind me of like Bruce Springsteen meets The Ramones or something like that. Like he (New Politics) writes really great classic songs but like they'€™re also like kind of dirty BCBG rock kind of stuff. AM Taxi just writes super pop hooks but they like remind me of the Beastie Boys or something and then Spill Canvas is just like a cool pop punk band.

If you weren'€™t doing music, what do you think you would be doing?
I don'€™t know. Maybe something creative of some sort like I mean I really like to write so maybe some kind of creative writing or something like that I think would be really cool or I don'€™t know. I really like performing too so who knows. I'€™m not sure. Maybe I'€™d be like in advertising or something.

What was the first record you bought?
First one I ever had was Bebe King '€œBest of'€ I think it was. I thought that was so cool. I loved it. No, the first record I guess as a kid, must have been, was Elvis'€™s golden records. I guess that was the first one ever. Yeah probably my first one was Elvis when I was really young.

Then the first concert you went to?
Well, I had seen like so much live music when I was a kid because we used to go to like different bluegrass festivals and folk festivals as a family and my uncle used to play. I mean like the first concert I went to when I was like, '€œI want tickets to see that'€ was like well I saw the Beach Boys when I was really young but like the first '€˜woah, I can'€™t believe I'€™m here'€™ is when I saw Johnny Lang in concert. It was like when I first started high school. It was the main thing! I was like '€˜aww this is awesome'€™.
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Jason Boland

Fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarist JASON BOLAND, the band has independently released five studio albums and two live discs including 2010'€™s High In The Rockies: A Live Album. They'€™ve sold 200,000 albums while amassing critical acclaim for their distinctive, hard-charging brew of country and rock with roots in artists like Waylon Jennings. Now it is time to sit back and tell us about what happened and will happen. A new album on the horizon?

Q: What about those bumper stickers and T-shirts that say '€œKeep Austin Weird'€?
JASON BOLAND: Yeah, I'€™m all for keeping Austin weird [laughs]. That'€™s what I enjoy about it. Some of the weirdness is being run out now. It'€™s still a really fun town. That'€™s why I can call it home. I'€™ve been there about two years now. It gets hot, but people aren'€™t afraid of it at all'€”I think it'€™s a source of pride.

Q: Here'€™s a quote from a 9513.com review of your latest album, the live High In The Rockies: '€œThe perfect antidote for people who have become frustrated by the lack of balance in mainstream country music and a reminder that country does not need pop or rock elements to still kick ass.'€ What do you think about that?
JB: I agree, and I'€™m flattered by it. We definitely appreciate the folks who enjoy the fact that we are a little more traditionalist and have that feel.

Q: The album opens with the song '€œHank'€ which has the lines, '€œThat carbon copy music doesn'€™t mean a damn to me/Hank Williams wouldn'€™t make it now in Nashville, Tennessee.'€ Can you reflect on this?
JB: Yeah, that was a song written by a good musician and friend of ours, Aaron Wynne. I'€™ve always thought that song was so hard-hitting and honest. If Hank Williams, Sr. went around doing what he did today--or someone else along those same lines'€”they would get the door slammed in their face. It happens every day.

Q: One of the highlights of High in the Rockies is your interpretation of Tom Russell'€™s '€œGallo Del Cielo.'€ What inspired you to cover this song in particular?
JB: It doesn'€™t get any better than this as far as story songs go. It'€™s a top-notch story song that takes you all the way inside. I always think it'€™d make a great movie, but then I think, '€œNah, nobody would get how sad the ending is.'€

Q: If you were to record a duet with an artist in country and someone outside of country, who might that be?
JB: For a male/female duet, it would probably be with Dolly Parton, for my mom. If I could do anything outside of country, it would be with the band Ween. I don'€™t think I could hang with Mastodon or the Mars Volta, but I dig their music.

Q: How are you traveling? Do you have your own tour bus?
JB: Yes, we travel by tour bus but, I don'€™t own it!

Q: How do you guys keep sane during travel?
JB: We are such lucky people--we do what we love to do. In our spare time, you'€™ll find us picking on the guitar and playing on the fiddle, or watching movies and playing video games. I also try to get out and about in the cities we visit. Last time I was in Chicago, I went to the Art Institute, and then I got to go and see a legitimate creation by Banksy, the street artist. That was fun, and then I went to a Cubs game.

Q: Any interesting side trips on the road?
JB: I went to Alaska with Stoney LaRue on his '€œNorth to Alaska'€ music and fishing trip. I caught a king salmon or two! They ship it home with you, freeze-dried and packed, it was awesome. Sitka, Alaska. Oh it was gorgeous, hanging out in God'€™s vestibule, it was pretty.

Q: What was the last meal you cooked for yourself? Do you cook on the road at all?
JB: The last meal I cooked for myself was some of the salmon I caught in Alaska. I made ceviche with lime, cilantro, jalapeƃ±o and a little lemon. We try to do what we can. We bring a grill on the bus and we'€™ll try to get out and do some things. A couple of the guys really enjoy cooking. We try, but it'€™s tough. I'€™m sure some people make the food and that thing more of a priority, but we'€™re eight guys on a bus. You eat on the road.

Q: As you'€™ve been traveling, you'€™ve been drawing upon material from all parts of your career. Are you guys doing any unreleased material or songs that might be under consideration for the upcoming album?
JB: Sometimes we have put a couple of songs into the set before they'€™re released, but we mostly play songs that people know. We'€™ve been at it long enough now and have enough albums to play a full set and still find somebody who didn'€™t hear some song that they really wanted to hear. We are going back to the studio this fall and I'€™ve already got plenty of songs that I'€™m really happy with.

Q: Will the upcoming album also be released on your label Proud Souls Entertainment?
JB: I would imagine that; we do some little partnering kind of ventures here and there, but we never really talk to labels. For us, it has really made more sense to produce our record with people we enjoy working with and then we find ways to get them into the stores.

Q: Describe your best night on tour, ever.
JB: It'€™s hard to isolate one show, but it always means a lot to us when we perform at Cain'€™s Ballroom [in Tulsa] and it'€™s packed. You see so many old friends and buddies. The Red Dirt Rangers show up and Randy Crouch is there--it'€™s Cain'€™s, you know? Then there'€™s the enjoyment of finding those special venues that are out of the way like Ziggy'€™s in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Q: What has been your Spinal Tap moment on tour?
JB: Well, I just had it the other day. We were in New Hope, Pennsylvania and the tour manager came out and he said '€œBoston just cancelled.'€ And I wanted to say, '€œOh that'€™s not a big deal, it'€™s not a big college town.'€ I mean, when Boston cancelled on us, that moment of Spinal Tap was in the air--there are what, 20 colleges there?

Q: If you were to have a dinner party with three to four people, dead or living, who would it be?
JB: I would choose Merle Haggard, Andrew Jackson and Moses. I could probably get a decent shot of history. Jesus, you can'€™t pick. That'€™s almost too easy.

Q: You covered Gram Parsons'€™ '€œA Song For You.'€ What do feel that Gram delivered that earned him that great position in history in the late '€˜60s and early '€˜70s?
JB: He brought straight-up honky tonk music to the parties in the hills out there in California and said, '€œListen to this. This is great stuff.'€ He kept country hip. There were a lot of times when pop culture was moving on from it and Merle Haggard--based in California too--wasn'€™t getting played on the radio anymore.

Q: Looking ahead at the next album, is there anything that you think might be different about it artistically?
JB: I don'€™t think anything different other then more natural evolution. I like to think I know how to keep people always pleasantly surprised, including myself. You want to keep it fresh'€”and keep it real for the fans.

Q: Will the new album come out next year?
JB: Yeah, late winter/early spring if I was guessing. I'€™m also thinking, since we'€™re a country band, we technically get to make one rock album--all rock bands have their country albums, you know! So, I'€™m looking forward to that'€¦I think we get to release one rock album where everybody can go, '€œWow that is just all rock and roll!'€ It would be funny.

Q: On that eventual record, what do you think would be the first track?
JB: On a rock and roll record? I probably haven'€™t written it yet. I would be weary of just going and attacking a bunch of rock classics. Pat Boone did that one time.

About JASON BOLAND & THE STRAGGLERS:
Fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarist JASON BOLAND, the band has independently released five studio albums and two live discs including 2010'€™s High In The Rockies: A Live Album. They'€™ve sold 200,000 albums while amassing critical acclaim for their distinctive, hard-charging brew of country and rock with roots in artists like Waylon Jennings. Their most recent studio album is 2008'€™s COMAL COUNTY BLUE, which was Boland'€™s first release on his own label, Proud Souls Entertainment, in conjunction with the Apex Nashville label and Thirty Tigers distribution. COMAL COUNTY BLUE was one of 2008'€™s most successful independent country releases, debuting #2 on the Billboard National Heatseekers chart, #30 Billboard Country Albums, and #1 iTunes country albums, as well as their first debut on the Billboard 200 at #159. In a review in the Austin Chronicle (November 2008), Doug Freeman wrote: '€œ'€¦When he sings of a rough, raw hope on songs like '€˜Bottle By My Bed,'€™ it cuts deep with genuine experience. The Okie turned Texan's fifth studio LP opens applying that same defiant bootstrap mentality to the hurricane-hit Gulf behind a low, Waylon Jennings gruffness on '€˜Sons And Daughters Of Dixie,'€™ and there's a touch of classic David Allen Coe on the dark barroom ballad '€˜Something You Don't See Everyday. Yet Boland also has a polish in his approach'€¦on tunes such as '€˜No Reason Being Late'€™ and '€˜Alright,'€™ his hard drawl working best on subtle, hard-luck realizations like the title track.'€ Onstage, Jason Boland and The Stragglers tear it up, prompting writer Sam Gazdziak to note in his November 2009 review (The9513.com): '€œThis concert was a perfect antidote for anyone who'€™s become frustrated by the lack of balance in mainstream country music, and a reminder that country doesn'€™t need pop or rock elements to still kick ass.'€High In The Rockies: A Live Album, released in April 2010, was the fourth-highest Billboard Country debut of the week (after Willie Nelson, Colt Ford and Merle Haggard), landing at #27. It'€™s #1 on the Heatseekers (South Central U.S.) chart, #3 Heatseekers (National), #136 on the Top 200 Albums chart and it hit #5 on iTunes'€™ Country Album Sales chart and #35 overall Album Sales. On the radio front, the track '€œTulsa Time'€hit #1 on Billboard'€™s '€œTexas Regional Radio Report'€ and #1 on the '€œTexas Music Chart.'€
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Hey Monday

I first saw this band play on the last Fall Out Boy headlining tour (RIP..miss you more every day!) and it was the first time I had even heard of them. We'€™ve seen it a few times now with the front man/girly rocker but Cassadee Pope and the rest of the band in Alex Lipshaw, Jersey Morairty and Mike Gentile but this new EP that just hit the shelves today blows away any past stereotypes people may have said about this band's music. The band'€™s sound has matured incredibly for how young this band still is today and '€œBeneath It All'€ is nothing but solid tracks that have really become much more organic and more musically focused.

The band just finished off a summer on the highly known Vans Warped Tour and played to huge crowds every day on the Altec Lansing stage which was a pretty difficult stage to be a part of considering some of the other bands who partied on that stage every day with Parkway Drive and Whitechapel just to name two but they preservered and were one of the most popular acts every day. At my stop of the tour, I had the chance to sit down for the second time with Alex Lipshaw where we talked about the new record, the songs they had previewed so far and a little bit about their time on Warped Tour this summer. Read our last interview to compare their expectations to what really happened!

Now that you'€˜re actually on the Warped Tour in comparison to the last time we talked on the AP tour, how has it been going for you guys so far?
Um, every single day gets a little bit better and it'€™s kind of crazy. I guess like now our label is pushing some new music and stuff and you can see it and every single show there'€™s a few more kids. Like every day is amazing, it'€™s one of my favorite tours that we'€™ve ever done for sure.

And if you could tour with any three bands on the tour with you, who would they be?
Sum 41, All American Rejects and Motion City?

Then '€œBeneath it All'€ was announced for August. I knew there were a few rumors swirling that it was coming out earlier but now what can kids look forward to with this record? Are they getting more pumped like is it obvious to you?
Yeah we just released like a new song on face book. Well we'€™ve released two songs '€˜Wish You were Here'€™ and this song '€˜Hangover'€™. '€˜Hangover'€™ is on our face book like when we reached 200,000 friends, they released it but it'€™s kind of like the album is a little more organic and diverse like every song is different and a little bit more mature. I think our fans will like it for sure.

Then what'€™s one of the crazier things you'€™ve seen so far this summer?
Damn! I mean the Warped tour. That'€™s probably the craziest thing I'€™ve seen. It'€™s insane! There'€™s probably like sixty buses on the tour, I don'€™t even know. It'€™s ridiculous like every single day is an adventure like there'€™s so many people on this tour doing so many random things. Every one'€™s got a mind of their own so it'€™s just craziness!

Then where can fans find you this summer? I think you'€™re playing the Altec Lansing stage, right?
Yeah! It'€™s called the Altec Lansing stage. We find out every day what time we play so it'€™s always different. We'€™re also doing like an hour signing every day at the Kia booth or Kia tent and that'€™s probably the best place to come like meet us and hang out and stuff like that. We also go to our merch tent every day and just kind of mingle a little bit and we don'€™t want it to get too crazy out there so we only go for a little bit but the Kia signing is what'€™s up!

Then with the new album coming out, can kids look forward to more touring, are you guys going to take a little breather, what'€™s going to be happening?
Full tours again, just going to keep touring. We'€™re young so I don'€™t have a family or children so it'€™s just us. We'€™re just going to keep like touring the world I guess for as long as we can.
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You Me At Six

Lately I'€™ve interviewed a lot of bands who are trying to make the jump over the pond so to speak and all of those are coming your way soon but one of those are You Me At Six. I would say they are the most alternative yet most present in the music scene I listen to the most and they played the biggest event of the alternative scene'€™s calendar this summer with Warped Tour. On it for the second year in the row, the boys rocked the Altec stage every day and built on their name even more with a little help from their first US release in '€œHold Me Down'€.
Their story here is a little bit different from their success back home where they'€™re from in the UK. Let'€™s just say they are bigger than life! They came off a completely sold out headlining tour featuring We The Kings and Forever The Sickest Kids as their openers and come here to watch the former play the main stage every day to at least 3,000 kids per show. The boys aren'€™t giving up the chase any time soon though to try and gain the same level of success here and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to front man Josh Franceschi and rhythm guitarist Max Helyer about everything from their challenges in spreading their music to the US and how Warped tour was going for them!

So coming from the UK and actually being on your second time on Warped Tour in a row which is really exciting, how is it going the second time around?
Josh: It'€™s been a lot different since we'€™re on a much bigger stage. We'€™re playing to more people. I feel like there'€™s more awareness of our band over here now then there was the first time we came to America. We did a tour in the fall with Mayday Parade and The Academy Is and Set Your Goals and that kind of really helped kind of starting things up here.
Max: We'€™ve also got a new CD which came out the other week so I think kids are kind of aware of it and there'€™s people who haven'€™t heard of our band before who are checking us out live and it'€™s been a lot of help for us promoting the new CD.

And it'€™s coming out in a few weeks or it'€™s '€˜Hold Me Down'€™?
Max: Yeah '€˜Hold Me Down'€™ came out two or three weeks ago on Virgin. It'€™s kind of nice to back over here touring like new stuff because when we were back over here last playing older songs and now we'€™re playing like the current songs that we like to play so it'€™s fun to come back over especially playing these songs.

Then I know you headlined a tour back home in the UK and you had We The Kings opening and Forever The Sickest kids I believe?
Josh: Yeah Forever The Sickest kids opened and We The Kings were main support.
How is it to come here then? You guys are growing things here but back home in the UK it'€™s at a much bigger level, yeah?
Max: Yeah. I think we know like it'€™s going to be tough when we come out to America because we haven'€™t toured as much here for those fans but that'€™s the whole point of us being here right now. Like touring as much as we can. I think next year is going to be another target as well where we want to be over a lot more and touring a lot more so hopefully we can just nail it down.
Josh: I think ultimately like our band'€™s ethos has always been about like wanting to take an audience who maybe a. haven'€™t heard of us or b. doesn'€™t like us and get them. That'€™s what we'€™ve always been about. I feel like it'€™s great what we have in the UK. It'€™s obviously phenomenal and we'€™re very lucky but like we want that everywhere. We don'€™t want to be a band that just sticks to one place so we'€™re going to keep coming back here as much as we can and it'€™s not about getting massive or making lots of money, it'€™s about seeing that more and more people are coming. We haven'€™t played main stage at Warped Tour or close the day like We The Kings or whatever you know. Maybe that will never happen but you know we want to give it a chance. I guess we'€™ll see what happens.
Max: It'€™s about just enjoying our time here with our best mates as well. I mean that'€™s why we started up this band so to even be here on Warped Tour we feel privileged to be here.

Then where can kids find you this summer? Like what stage are you playing?
Josh: We'€™re playing Altec Lansing stage.
Oh wow, that'€™s definitely a big stage! Like Hey Monday, Four Year Strong, etc.
Max: Some of our best friends are on that stage this year. So it'€™s really nice to be on the stage and we can watch our friends play and not clash with them.
Josh: That'€™s the best part. I realized like that'€™s the best part of being on this stage is that like realistically the only bands we really want to avoid clashing with are All American Rejects and We The Kings. I guess Bring Me The Horizon but I sing a song with them so we don'€™t normally clash and it works. Clashing with a band like Four Year Strong would really suck but we don'€™t have to worry about that.

Then what'€™s one of the crazier things so far this summer that'€™s happened? Maybe at one of your sets, at some one else'€™s? I just heard about some girls taking all their clothes off at the Rejects?
Josh: Oh yeah he'€™s funny. We saw him the other day when they were playing. Some of the stuff he was saying was pretty jokes. At one of our shows though? It'€™s really all becoming a blur, it'€™s been so long.
It'€™s only been a few weeks!
Max: Warped tour is so routine! You get into this like Warped tour zone.
Josh: We were watching Parkway Drive the other day and like Winston the lead singer was like I want to see people start head walking and it was like this massive crowd. All you see is these people getting on everyone'€™s shoulders climbing across the thing. I thought it was pretty nuts!
Max: I think the best crowd we'€™ve had was actually in Toronto. Toronto two days ago like was insane. We'€™ve been there before on the AP tour and I think the kids really got our band then and like a lot of the kids were singing along to the newer songs and it was really like a promising sight to see that people had picked up the cd and had checked it out. Hopefully they can happen everywhere in Canada and the USA as well.

Then what are the plans for the next few months? Obviously the CD just came out in the US, I think it'€™s been out for a while in the UK but what are the plans? Are you guys going to be coming back to the USA, what'€™s going to be going on?
Josh: Yeah we'€™re in discussions about various tours. We were going to come back in the fall but it'€™s looking pretty unlikely now because we'€™ve got some commitments in the UK and Europe we'€™ve got to do but we plan to come back in the spring.
Max: We hope to come back next year and for a lot longer time, not just two months. You never know, we might wait and record another CD. You never know.
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Four Year Strong

Quite possibly the band that current Massachusetts music lovers are most proud of, Four Year Strong has made their mark and don'€™t plan on going anywhere any time soon! The Worcester based band has grown so much in the underground scene with in these past few years including signing to Decaydance Records and playing all of the Warped Tour this summer. Being one of the fellow bands'€™ favorites and definitely a fan favorite, they rocked the tour every day!

Playing covers of famous songs like '€œLowrida'€, '€œStory of A Girl'€ and '€œSemi Charmed Life'€ to having songs named '€œIt Must Really Suck to be In Four Year Strong Right Now'€, the jokers'€™ live shows are insane and the crowd eats up every word and riff! You'€™ll be able to check it out in person if you haven'€™t had the chance to on their new headliner tour this fall with Comeback Kid and The Wonder Years. For now though, read the interview below that I did with Alan Hitt of the band when we were at Warped Tour in Hartford!

So the latest record dropped in March and it had been a while since a new record. How has it been going so far from the kids reactions at the tour?
New record'€™s been going great. I mean sales have been good I think but more importantly the shows have been great. Kids have been reacting very well to the new material and it'€™s a dream come true!

How did the writing process go for that record that maybe differed from the past?
It was very different actually because when we did our last record, you know we had been writing for a really long time and then it was like a compilation of our best material over the years I guess but with this one, we specifically wrote for this record and a lot of it we actually wrote in the studio and we had never done that before so that was really cool.

And then you'€™ve covered several tracks like '€˜Semi Charmed Life'€™ and '€˜Story of A Girl'€™, some pretty classic songs there! If you were to cover any other band on this tour, who do you think it would be and what song?
I think it would be-. Well I actually did cover a Sum 41 song when I was in middle school at a school dance so I did do that but if I was going to now..probably Andrew W.K!
Do you know what song by any chance?
Any of them! Any of them would be great!

Then being on Warped for the whole thing this summer is pretty exciting. How has it been going so far?
It'€™s been going great. Warped Tour is just the best tour you can do really for a million reasons. You get to be outside all summer. You get to hang out with some of your best friends. You get to make tons of new friends. You get to play great shows. I mean it'€™s just endless reasons.

And then this is a little goofy but everyone loves the catering on Warped Tour. What'€™s been your favorite meal?
Yesterday was pretty good because we actually served the dinner yesterday. I was the whip cream and pie guy so I ended up putting whip cream on a lot of people'€™s dinners which they didn'€™t like but it was chicken and pork chops, mashed potatoes. It was really good!

Then what'€™s one of the crazier things you'€™ve seen so far this summer, maybe at one of your sets?
Every show has been really great. I mean way better then I ever expected. It'€™s just been awesome but I can'€™t think of one that sticks out but they'€™ve just all been great!

Then where can kids find you this summer? What stage are you on, are you doing signings?
We'€™re on the Altec Lansing stage which is the one with the big inflatable thing on top and we do acoustic sets. We'€™re doing one today at 3:20 I think at the Altec live tent and we do signings at our merch tent after our set all the time. I'€™m walking around every day hanging out.
So they can find you, they can stalk you?
Oh yeah!

Then what can fans look forward to post Warped Tour from you guys? Are you doing more touring, what'€™s going on?
We'€™re taking a little bit of time off. Like about a month and a half I think we'€™re taking off then we'€™re doing a headliner which isn'€™t fully planned yet so I can'€™t give anything away but it'€™s in the works and it'€™s going to be great. Yeah that'€™s all we got planned right now.

Perfect! A little goofy one to end it off! You just put out your new video for '€œIt Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now'€, but if you could pick any other track off this new record which one would it be and what'€™s the craziest idea you could think of for that video?
Well we actually just did a new video.
You just finished the new one?
Yeah for the song '€œOn A Saturday'€ or '€œTonight We Feel Alive'€ which was the second song on the record and we did a awesome video for it. Best video we'€™ve ever done.

That'€™s exciting and I don'€™t want to know what'€™s it about!
Yeah, you can be surprised!
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Stephen Jerzak

In today'€™s music scene, everyone wants to say they'€™ve grown up and matured from their past works but most can'€™t say that. One of those artists that'€™s proving that stereotype wrong is the young yet extremely talented eighteen year old Stephen Jerzak. He'€™s been melting young girls'€™ hearts across the country with his sweet and cute lyrics on his ukele and acoustic guitars but now he'€™s trying something a little new with his first full length record.

Recently signing to Universal Republic and dropping the full length sometime soon this fall, he'€™s definitely growing up. Dropping his new single featuring Leighton Meeister '€œShe Said'€, a dancy electronica feeling track and hitting the road with the r&b rapper-singer Mike Posner in these next two months, he'€™s not one afraid of trying new things and changing it up a little bit. Music Remedy got the chance to sit down with Stephen just a few days ago at the Transmission Fest in Worcester where he told me it was the first interview he'€™s talked about the new record in. Read on for our exclusive and look for him all over the charts soon!

You'€™ve done a lot of covers in the past like you'€™ve done '€˜Tik Tok'€™ and you'€™ve done '€˜My First Kiss'€™. If you were to cover one of the bands you'€™ve toured with in the past, what song would you do?
Um I would probably have to say..this is tough! There are so many good songs that they all play. I love '€˜I Just Want To Run'€™ by The Downtown Fiction. I think that'€™s a really cool song and I'€™d probably do that one.

Then since we last talked (back in November), you'€™ve done two successful headlining tours, signed to a major label, finished your record, lived in California. Your career has pretty much been in fast forward mode, how has that journey been for you?
It'€™s been amazing. As soon as the Breathe Carolina tour was done, I moved to California and I started working with producers and writing new material for the record and I toured for a while with Stereo Skyline for a couple weeks then went back to California and when we did Bamboozle, I had to fly to New Jersey so I mean it'€™s been super crazy but the record is finally done and it'€™s finally coming out soon and the first single just dropped and I'€™m touring again so it'€™s all great!

Being with a major label I'€™m sure changed the writing/recording process a bit. How did it go for you?
Yeah definitely. I did a lot of co writing pretty much every day. I have a few songs that I did by myself 100 percent on this record but I mean the majority of it was all co written with producers that the label kind of hooked up. It was a super fun experience because I'€™ve never like really worked with anybody before so we built it up in January, it was a good time. There'€™s some sweet songs so I'€™m excited!

In the first single '€œShe Said'€, you collaborated with Leighton Meester. How did that collaboration come about?
Well, we were looking for so many different people to do it. We tried to get Selena Gomez to do it I don'€™t know if I'€™m supposed to say that but she was in like some crazy country but I mean we went through a big list and Leighton Meester did '€œGood Girls Go Bad'€ so it was a similar good fit for her. It was cool like having different artists under my belt because I never really had a cool feature before but she'€™s signed to Universal Republic too so it was like a really easy process for the label to set it all up.

Today'€™s line up that you'€™ve joined, it'€™s two tours combined with lots of other great bands and a lot of them are hardcore/screamo which I believe you'€™re in to.
Yeah, yeah I am!
So are there any bands that you'€™re excited to possibly watch today or at tomorrow'€™s date?
I'€™ve had a lot of different styles influencing the album and they aren'€™t really like my style but I'€™m super excited for Emery the most just because they'€™re just like really musical and I like that. Just like all the music, all the bands, out of all the influences I'€™m excited to see them. A lot of other bands too!

From the single so far, it'€™s pretty clear that you'€™ve naturally matured as an artist, your music has grown. Are you afraid at all that your fans may not like the new material, their opinions may change?
For sure! Honestly like people grow up. I'€™m eighteen years old and I started when I was sixteen like things change. Like I wrote '€˜Cute'€™ when I was like sixteen years old you know! It was a long time ago and like everything that'€™s happened, the whole major label signing and going out to California and living on my own for the first time. It really like opened up a lot of doors for me and I haven'€™t really like been out like when I was in Wisconsin so I got into like a lot of awesome like just dub step music and just all of this like crazy stuff. I really wanted to try and collaborate with myself and just to grow as an artist and just try some new things I guess because there'€™s only so much you can do with a uke. I just wanted to expand that and write some fun songs people can dance to.

Then when can fans look forward to the release?
It should be out in the next few months but albums always get pushed back so we'€™ll see. I'€™ve heard September, October hopefully. I'€™m actually supposed to be playing a few songs from the record on this tour but our musical rack isn'€™t working properly. It'€™s definitely not working that great right now. We didn'€™t have enough time to figure it out so it'€™s still all old songs but it'€™s good to play some old songs.

Then what can fans look forward to these next few months. I know you'€™re going out with Mike Posner?
Yeah I'€™m doing a tour with Mike Posner in September and October. That is going to be crazy! I can'€™t even believe like this is crazy what'€™s happening right now. Yeah my manager says that it'€™s the luxury of the college parties without going to college so I'€™m excited. It'€™s going to be a good time and I can'€™t wait to meet the other openers because I'€™ve never really toured with anybody outside of like the scene you know. So it'€™s going to be cool to really expand, do a kind of hip hop kind of thing. That might be cool! It'€™s going to be good! After the Mike tour, then I have no idea.
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Black Veil Brides

I wasn'€™t sure what to expect from supposed scene kid Andy Sixx, other wise known as the lead singer of currently blowing up Black Veil Brides. The name itself sparked my interest as did their insane fan base that they have grown and I knew they were a band we should have on Music Remedy as soon as I caught a bit of their sound check prior to my interview. Their passion, their look on stage and their song lyrics were just a few things that were of interest to me going into my interview.

I got the chance to sit down with Andy in the ghostly downstairs room and I got to see a different side of the extremely dynamic front man. When one on one with this talented musician, you see the intelligence and thought behind the lyrics that kids were shouting through out the set. We talked about everything from the debut record to their writing process to their dream tour. The band will be on the road for the majority of this next year so be sure to catch these act when they come through your town and pick up the record!

So like you said the first record comes out tomorrow and then you'€™re on this headlining tour. It'€™s your first one, correct?
Yeah it'€™s our first official headlining tour. We did, you know, a few runs where it was just you know a couple dates here and there headlining but as far as like a full, fully routed headlining tour, this is our first one.

How has it been going?
Well, I mean since we started playing really, the response from most audiences has been very centered on us in a sense that our fan base is really dedicated in a way that most others aren'€™t. You know we went on a tour with good friends of ours in a band called From First To Last and you know every single night they would all, you know, tease and joke about the fact that the crowd was ours. You know, we were able to, on our first major tour, carry a tour because of our fan base. You'€™re looking at kids that have a level of dedication that you just don'€™t see anymore. We don'€™t even have a record out yet. Just the list of accomplishments that the band has grown through is staggering because of that fan base. Because they feel a connection to that band that'€™s something greater than they feel with a lot of other bands and I think that that'€™s awesome.

So you started Black Veil Brides when you were fourteen?
Yeah and I'€™m nineteen now. The intention was to create something that you know I wasn'€™t seeing. I grew up sort of a loner in the sense that you know I didn'€™t really have very many friends or any social life to speak of because I listened to weird bands and I wore weird clothes. Especially at the time, you know, things like KISS or Motley Crue or the Misfits, they weren'€™t as common place as they are now you know. Not that long ago but the mid to early nineties, you just didn'€™t see you know younger kids have that kind of interest but a lot of what I, you know, experienced and the kind of hatred and bullying that I experienced, I wanted to be able to make something that you know represented a visual and an idea and the theatrical side of music that I liked but also have a lyrical message that you know musically and lyrically meant something. To kind of be like a rallying for all people who felt disenfranchised like myself.

How do you normally go about the writing process? Is it one person, a collective effort, etc.?
Uh, with this record Jake and Jinx will come up with a guitar part or something and we'€™ll kind of together we'€™ll craft the melody of the song and they obviously, they write their solos and you know they write the bulk of the song. Jake writes the drum parts and then I will come in and write my melodies and my lyrics. So for every song on the record, apart from like two which I wrote the melody and the song for as well, it'€™s pretty much a group effort between the three of us.

If you could maybe collaborate with any other band/artist that you'€˜ve toured with, who do you think they would be?
Bands that we'€™ve toured with. Yeah no I mean obviously, well one of best friends is Matt Good from From First To Last and you know we always talked about doing something together so I would love to do that one day.

What can fans look forward to when coming out to one of your live shows? I know you'€™ve never played here before yet right?
No but it doesn'€™t really matter if we'€™ve played here before or not. The thing is that every city that we play in, it'€™s the same show. I mean whether if we have five kids here or five hundred kids here, we put on the same show. What we describe it as, it is the ultimate show that you can see outside of an arena. I mean honestly because we, in ways that KISS can blow shit up, we can entertain you a lot better and the thing is once we have the ability to blow things up, I don'€™t think there'€™s anything that'€™s going to be able to stop us. We are the band that I think is carrying the torch and creating the show again in ways that we don'€™t do choreographed crab core bull shit. We'€™re not running in place. Everything that we do on stage is passionate and real and it feeds off the energy of the kids that are watching us so it'€™s the best show that you can see for the price of admission.

Then maybe the craziest thing you'€™ve seen so far on this tour?
Craziest thing I'€™ve seen in my life? Craziest thing I'€™ve seen on this tour? Really nothing surprises me to be honest with you. We play these venues with kids just packed in. Like we played in Allentown, Pennsylvania and the room probably would have only held about two hundred kids and there was through the door about five hundred kids. So they had to keep the house lights on in the venue because every one was so afraid that something was going to happen and security wouldn'€™t be able to see it so the entire venue with house lights on. It'€™s a thin, hallway like thing that goes all the way back so you have the stage and then you can imagine almost like a cylinder so you'€™re standing at the end and you look straight forward and there'€™s walls on either side of you and just if you can imagine just a mass of people leaning directly towards the stage. There was nowhere really to fit in so it got so bad that the security had to come up on stage every couple minutes and remind everybody that you know you shouldn'€™t kill the people in the front row. It was really insane. We took a kitchen thermometer up on stage and it clocked in at about 205 degrees on the stage so it was pretty insane but I mean whatever it'€™s rock and roll. The thing is that one thing that our band has is that a lot of people sort of realize when they watch us play is there'€™s very much a punk rock aesthetic. Our fans are very, let me say passionate, about wanting to have pieces of us whether its'€™ our clothes or our instruments or sometimes like last night I got injured. Like our body itself. So half the time we'€™ll wind up with broken strings, broken mike cables. It doesn'€™t matter ultimately. Last night, I had a broken mike cable and the audience sang the last two songs of the set with us. We didn'€™t even have mikes on the stage. I mean I think it'€™s that they love us every bit as much as we love them and they want a piece of what'€™s going on. It'€™s like we love to go out and talk to them and they give us gifts in the same way they take stuff from us and they can go home and have that and it'€™s part of the show. That being said, it isn'€™t always easy to finish a guitar solo when your strings are torn off the guitar but that'€™s alright. We love it!

If you could tour with any three dream bands, who do you think they would be?
See, to me it'€™s like I think the ultimate show for me is just a giant Black Veil Brides show. If there'€™s just the biggest Black Veil Brides show, if we could just take over like a whole country, I think that would be good. That would be the ultimate show and then it'€™s just us playing for two hours. That'€™s what I think would be my favorite tour.

I believe you have two music videos out now-
Yeah '€˜Knives and Pens'€™ and '€˜Perfect Weapon'€™. That'€™s our new video that'€™s the single off our record that just came out about two weeks ago.
I know both of them are pretty crazy but if you could pick any other track off this record, what'€™s the craziest video concept you could think of?
Um, craziest video. I mean really you could make any song into a crazy video. Just takes an imaginative band and director so ultimately I have a concept for a song called '€œSweet Blasphemy'€. I think that would be perfect. It would be pretty nuts but I'€™m not going to talk about it because then it would be giving away the surprise.
Of course not, you don'€™t want to ruin a surprise!
Exactly!

If there were one message you wanted your fans to take away after watching one of your live shows, what would it be?
That the weird kid from Ohio did this and is standing up on the stage and singing the words that he wrote and gets to do what he loves every day and so can you. There'€™s absolutely no difference between me and them. We'€™re a mere reflection of you know each other and so honestly the number one message is that no rockstars in bands are shipped from the sky and if you want something, you can never let anybody tell you otherwise. You have to work your ass off every single day and every band on this tour is still working their asses off to get somewhere and I think it'€™s important to remember that the people that have the most respect for their job or what they do in life, they weren'€™t handed it. They worked their ass off and I think that when kids feel down or they feel like they have nothing left, it'€™s always important to remember that with hard work, you can get somewhere in your life. Regardless of what it is. Regardless of whether you want to be a school teacher or a football player or a rock star, it doesn'€™t matter. If you worked towards something and ultimately, you put in your heart one hundred percent then you can do it.

Then with the new record dropping tomorrow, clearly new music is here but what can fans look forward to these next few months? Maybe more touring?
Yeah I mean we'€™re going to be touring all through out the next year so we'€™ll be announcing the next tour pretty soon. It'€™s going to be pretty exciting. Just touring all through out this record cycle then going in to make another one.
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Goo Goo Dolls

There is no doubt in anyone'€™s mind that the Goo Goo Dolls are a long lasting band and they'€™ve proved it. Currently on the road this summer on a headlining tour and with their ninth studio record hitting shelves this fall, they have no plans of stopping. Recently, I got the chance to sit down with one of the hit makers themselves in Robby who has been in this project since the beginning with front man John Rzeznik in 1986.

Robby explained to me how he never believed he would ever get to this point in his career and through being in this band, he has been able to meet and marry his wife who was from the opposite side of the world and be able to visit so many countries. He also explained how they'€™ve grown as a band over time through the hardships of the music industry amongst other topics. Look for the record this fall and catch the band when they come to a city near you! Also, remember to bring food items for the food drive the band is doing with USA Harvest on this tour. By participating in the drive, you have the chance to meet the band at the show you attend!

Currently you'€™re on a huge summer tour across the US with support from Switchfoot, GRO and Spill Canvas. How has that tour been going for you guys?
We booked a fifty show club tour to really just fill our time while we were waiting for the record which we recorded six months ago and we had it planned to come out right before our summer tour so we were playing new songs. Surprisingly, everyone has been singing the songs back to us which shows us the power of the internet really because the song we open our set with, we only played once prior in television back in December and the audiences have known the words.

Your ninth studio album comes out August 31st of this year. I know you released greatest hits record but it'€™s your first release of new material in four years. Do you feel the sound has matured/changed with this new release?
I get asked this every time we put out a new record and really we just have fine tuned our vocals. We try to make everything better and more improved lyrically and musically with each record.

You released an EP that exclusive to the tour. What made the band decide to do that?
Yes we put it out because the record delayed. We'€™re trying a bunch of new things now. There is also going to be a offer where you can buy the remainder of the EP with a lot of bonus tracks. We'€™re trying a bunch of new things.

What can kids look forward to when coming out to one of your live shows?
Well these shows have been going well. We have about fifteen tracks where we really have no choice but to play them and we have this brand new record coming out. So we have to fit it in. We pretty much just have a list written down and then just move them around in place but now thanks to computers we have a pretty sweet computerized lights show and everything so it'€™s a pretty great show.

You'€™ve been in this band since the beginning in 1986. Did you ever imagine when you started this band that you would get to the level you reached today?
I never thought that we would get to this point because when you start anything you always see it as a project. I remember once a long time ago I was like on the side of the stage and thinking '€˜great I have to do this all over'€™ but I can'€™t believe that now. I have really made a career and been in this band for twenty plus years and get to do it all my life. Through it, I'€™ve had the chance to marry my wife who lived on the other side of the world and I never would have been able to meet her if it wasn'€™t for this. I'€™m never in a place for more then two days at a time and that'€™s great!
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