Cody Simpson

While I typically head out to punk and rock shows, I took a different step out on Monday night to cover the Acoustic Sessions tour which featured pop sensation Cody Simpson in the headlining position. Walking up to the venue to find both teen fans and parents alike hours before doors opened, I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into but from the minute I met Cody to do the interview I knew that I was speaking to a genuine artist.
The incredibly young seventeen year old already has an incredibly successful full length album "Surfers Paradise" under his belt with plans to work on his next album right after his current sold out acoustic tour. While we also talked the writing and recording process, we talked about his journey to the point he is at now in his career and what he was listening to as a kid. Read on for our exclusive and be ready for so much more from this superstar in the making!

Obviously you have so much going on but to start off the three things that you've learned that you need to have with you while on the road to survive?
Three things I've learned I need on tour? My phone (laughs). A member of my family. Dad, my mom, something like that.
Of course
Always keeps me grounded, you know. What else? Good supply of music documentaries and like surf documentaries. For inspiration and to relax with.
Then you've been in Boston before with the full energy live show with full band and dancers and everything. This is an acoustic tour. How has it been so far playing these much smaller rooms then you played on that tour?
A lot more fun. It's more comfortable. I like it more. More relaxed I think. An easy tour. You know it's just so easy to get up there and play my guitar. It feels like me. Much more organic. Real fun live music. I really enjoy it. Tour kind of started on my seventeenth birthday so it was kind of cool to have like this new year means new phase in my career. New kind of tour especially. Giving my fans something that they've never seen before. In their demographic and the age that they are, they probably haven't been to a show like this before. People don't usually go to this style of shows until they are a little older. It's cool to be able to have that experience for the fans. It's new, it's raw, it's fresh.
Perfect and then I know the album "Surfer's Paradise" came out this past year. How did you go about the writing for the album? Like picking the songs and everything?
It started probably early last year. The recording process part of it and it was just weeks on and off in the studio. Working on stuff. Really wanted to put together an album that would be like the soundtrack to my fan's summers. That was my goal. I wanted it to reflect my lifestyle. I wanted it to reflect my hometown and that whole vibe back in Australia. I think I totally mastered that. I really put together an awesome summer album.
Then maybe for you the dream person to write with or to collaborate with on a song of yours?
Jack Johnson is my number one for sure. Looking forward to working on something. I actually met him like a month or two ago. Got to hang out with him for a bit and go to the show and him dedicating a song to me on stage. It was a really cool experience. I've been listening to him my whole life and he's my absolute favorite. It would be a dream to work with him one day on some stuff. Definitely see him as an inspiration. For sure an influence.
Then still being very young, doing music today and touring the US multiple times already and having this success. How did you first get interested in doing music? Like when did you know this is what you wanted to do?
To be honest, it was a hobby. Like it wasn't something serious. I loved to do it but it wasn't until like other people started messaging me and paying attention then I was like 'Oh, this could be something'. I was so young like I was only twelve when stuff went up online. When I just did stuff for fun when people actually started digging it. I was like hold on a second I should probably think about this more seriously. Then the light kind of switched on and then when I started getting emails from people, it was just something that I had to process a little bit at first. Try and wrap my head around the whole thing because that's such a big step for such a young kid. It was insane. Basically just going to the states, moving to the states and just getting settled here. To be honest, it was non stop. Roller coaster ride for basically four years.
That's crazy. I wanted to ask you just because I do interview bands and acts all genres but with in that, actually a lot of Australian bands and I know it's very expensive to be even heard here, to tour here. Maybe advice to bands to kind of break out of Australia and try to make that jump?
It's crazy. I kind of had a little head start when it comes to touring in Australia and then trying to break it out over in the states with social media. I got to skip that first step I think because I was so young. The original people that brought me over here were based in New York. So it all just kind of started here. To be honest, I've only toured once in Australia. I haven't really done a lot over there. It's funny because a lot of these Australian artists will end up finding success everywhere else in the world before they find success in Australia. People like Keith Urban or Kylie Minogue or somebody more like that. Australia didn't really pay attention until the rest of the world were like their biggest fans. It's a weird, really weird thing. I don't really understand it but I just go there because I like to travel everywhere. Just do my best everywhere.
Like until the rest of the world cares about you?
Yeah, exactly.
Then maybe the first CD or first cassette you remember buying as a kid or getting as a kid? Then the first concert you ever went to?
It was Johnny Cash when I was like eight. It was "Live at the Folsom Prison" or something like that. I grew up on country music. That was my first CD and my first concert was Keith Urban when I was ten.
Then you said you grew up on country. Do you think those experiences influenced you at all, like in the music you're putting out?
Somewhat. To become more of a well rounded musician, you have to be knowledgeable of many different genres. I don't listen to as much country as I used to but definitely it's something that will always be in my heart. So we'll see where it goes in the future.
Then coming up, do you think you'll put out another album pretty quickly, more touring after this acoustic tour?
Straight after the tour, I'm going to go back to LA to work on the next album which will be out in the summer time. I'm really looking forward to that. It's going to be much more mature. Much more organic and musical so I'm really looking forward to working on that next phase in my career.
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Magic Man

Boston music scene is a scene where you can find at least six or seven live awesome bills a night and one of the bands that broke out of that music scene are pop hearthrobs in Magic Man. The band has been quickly taking on full US tours starting with Walk The Moon into Sir Sly and now New Politics who they will be back in Boston with this upcoming Monday! I chose to repost this interview now from their first tour with Walk The Moon in hopes of catching up with the band now to see how they feel after several months of touring. How did the cities go around this second time to the status of their new album?
I sat down with Sam from the band just a few minutes after they got off stage opening for Walk The Moon. We talked everything from the bands' roots to their current album progress to advice they would give Boston bands. Through out the interview, we also heard Walk The Moon coming on stage from the loud screaming of the crowd to their chant backstage together. Watching Walk The Moon expand over the states was a great thing to experience through countless interviews and it looks like Magic Man is on route to follow that same path. Hopefully we can talk to them through it too!

How has this tour been going so far considering you're kind of similar to Walk The Moon's style playing these really huge shows?
It's been super amazing. We were huge Walk The Moon fans like before the tour so it was obviously like a dream come true moment to play with them when we got offered the tour. So we're all really excited just as fans to get to see them every night. They're also amazing guys. Really welcoming. Probably just as important, the fans are also super welcoming. Really enthusiastic and willing to go crazy for music they've never heard before. They show up early and paint their faces and do all this stuff for Walk The Moon too which is awesome. Definitely a younger crowd which is cool. So it's been great. It's been really, really fun. First show I just was super nervous but since then, it's been really fun. We're playing Terminal 5 tomorrow which is kind of like another hard to believe moment. It's going to be fun. We're all from the Boston area. We used to come to this place like when it was the Avalon. We were the people lining up outside before the show. So it's really crazy to play here. Play to like a nearly full house. All our parents are here and everything. It's been really good. It's been awesome.
Then the EP just came out so maybe if you could tell me a little bit about the writing process for that EP. Did you do it like before you were signed to a major label or after that?
We graduated from college in Spring of 2012 and we've been doing this band in various forms for four years. After we graduated, we started working seriously on it. Writing and refining stuff we had been working on in college. Then when the deal with Neon Gold came together, it kind of happened all around the same time. Some of the songs that we've been working on are our older songs or like pieces of older songs. Ones that been around for ages. Some are like really new songs. Some we wrote also in this winter. Yeah we did most of the writing in our little home studio in Providence which is where Alex is, the singer and I live now. Daniel and Justine live in Boston and our drummer Joey is the newest addition to the band. He lives in LA now but is originally from DC area so he kind of just came back here to play with us. So yeah we did it all in our little recording studio in Providence. We've been working on stuff in New York, a little bit with people in Passion Pit and a lot of great bands but most of the writing was done in Providence in our little room.
Then like you said, you have been writing or working with people in New York. Obviously Passion Pit being a very big band. For the next album, are you planning to take more of a professional studio approach, like working with other people or are you still think you're going to stick to the in home?
Well, we've been working on the new record this summer actually. We did a ton of the production and writing in our home studio. Brought all those files and recordings to New York where Alex has his studio there. Did a bunch more recording in New York and a bunch of recording at his place. The EP was done there as well. In the same sessions. We're almost finished with the album. Mixing it now. It was definitely a learning experience but mostly in a positive way. To kind of take our writing process from doing it entirely on our own in our home studio and bring it to New York and get other people involved. At first, it's like giving your baby away or something.
Is that planned to come out like this year or a 2014 release?
Next year, yeah. Probably early in the year hopefully.
Then obviously this tour is a pretty huge tour to have your EP come out right before but maybe what's coming up after the tour with Walk The Moon?
We will be at CMJ but after that then we're doing another tour with a band called Sir Sly which will be smaller venues obviously but they're awesome. We played with them in DC. They had tons of energy and another band where you see them and you learn a ton from them. So we're really excited to hang out and tour with those guys too. That's going to be probably until November or so.
And that comes back to Boston right?
Yeah we're playing Brighton Music Hall which is great. It's one of our favorite venues and another one of those Boston venues. I saw Daniel's band play like Battle of the Bands there every year. It cost like fifteen dollars and would be at like 3 o'clock on a Sunday. It was nuts and it always sounded kind of bad but now I think it sounds really good there. It's a lot of fun. So yeah we're coming back to Boston then we're going to New York. We're doing a lot of the same cities that we've been playing on this tour which is really exciting because hopefully we can build a little bit more of a fan base here and then come back and play again. In a little more intimate setting.
Then these days unfortunately a lot of Boston bands aren't really making it out of the city, making that step to break out. Maybe advice to bands to try and make that step further. Like to break out of Boston.
I don't know. I mean for us, it was just that we kind of kept doing what we were doing and we were lucky enough that Neon Gold and Columbia found us and the stuff that we had put online. We were just really lucky. I think Lizzy from Neon Gold found something that we had put on Bandcamp. I feel like I don't really have many pieces of advice to give that aren't common cliches but we've always really enjoyed playing out wherever we can. We try to get out of the city as much as possible and trying to meet as many bands as we could in other cities. Just because of people we've become friends with, we've gotten a ton of shows or introductions to people. One of our friends was in a band and reaches out to us. I think it's kind of like just putting yourself out there. That's been really helpful for us. Obviously we're still like a really young band so I wouldn't want to speak too early. It's been helpful for us and we're supported by a lot of great people and have a really great time. Everyone we meet in the music business seems to be having a good time.
I'm sure this is good exposure too.
Oh my god yeah.
Then to end it off, the first CD or first cassette you ever remember buying as a kid and the first concert you ever went to?
First CD where I bought it intentionally was the Green Day album. I don't remember which one. I think "Dookie". Definitely I remember owning "International Superhits" which was the greatest hits album they did. Listened to that all the time. I listened to it again recently and some songs I was like oh my god this is so good. The first show I went to, like my uncle took me to see The Rolling Stones once. He's friends with one of their rhythm guitarists. Like the super back up rhythm guitarist. Like barely on the stage. So I went to see that and I'm really bummed out now when I think about it because I think I just didn't care enough about music at the time to really appreciate that. Probably some of the shows I saw here.
Do you think those influenced you? Like wanting to be in music?
Well since I don't really remember much of the first concert, that maybe I don't really think had any affect on me. I feel like I remember when I was first getting into music. I bought my first CD player. I would go to record stores and listen to CD's. You feel super excited about it when you're like a kid in middle school or high school. Like it can transform you or whatever. I feel like it's important to remember some of that when you're making music. It's easy to be like really critical and kind of jaded even when you see a band and instead of having fun, at least for me, it's easy to think oh I wish he didn't do that thing or why isn't he using a string with his stand instead of a boom bic stand. Or the guitars are a little out of tune or that's a weird drum fill. So I feel it's important to stay excited about music and not get too caught up in that it is our job now. So seeing Walk The Moon has been a great lesson in that. That they just have so much fun on stage and look like they are just having a blast. Regardless of whether they aren't or are. So I feel like if I learned anything from "International Superhits" by Green Day, it was to still try and be as excited about music as I was when I was like thirteen or whatever. That's super cheesy but it's true.
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Rocket and The Ghost

This next band hooked me with their debut single, "Goodbye"! The breakout single got the crowd moving at their first Boston show as a band ever and was a good indication of how huge this band can be. So when I had the opportunity to speak to lead vocalist Kiyoshi just a half hour or so before the band hit the stage, I jumped on it. We talked about tour essentials and the rules of bathroom breaks on the road to how the writing process has changed for the band to what their plans are for the next few months. Read on for our exclusive and catch them in NYC on the 1st!

You've been in this band I want to say for like two years.
Yeah, about like a year and a half. Two years, something like that.
Maybe the things you've realized you need to have while on tour to survive?
God, well! There's a variety of things. First thing is you need to figure out the water thing. You need to figure out when you drink water and how much. It's different from person to person. You need to figure out your schedule. I find just for necessity the best thing to do is when you first realize that you have to pee, this is while you're driving for hours, and you're responsible for seven other people. In this case five. When you first feel it, just that inkling, like do I have to pee right now? Start chugging water. As much as you possibly can.
Really?
Yeah because then you chug as much water as you can and then you wait as long as possible till you just can't take it anymore. Then you go to the bathroom and then you're done. You don't have to pee at all and you're hydrated.
Nice
But then the trick is don't drink more water till you have that feeling. Almonds! Almonds are the other one. Peanut butter and a spoon. No, actually not a spoon because every gas station has a spoon. A neck pillow and a air mattress. You need to be confident and able to say in the microphone that you have no where to stay because in my experience, a hundred percent of the time if you ask the audience and there's two people at the show you will have a place to stay. I played in Ithaca one time and actually there were two people in the audience and I said that into the microphone. "We're poor musicians we have no where to stay. Would anyone like to hang out with some cool guys and we'll cook you breakfast in the morning". There were two people who weren't there with each other but they both offered us places to stay. It was great. One was like really creepy so we went with the other one.
I've definitely seen that happen.
It happens. Some people are weird when you first meet them. You kind of have that idea from them right out of the gate. Although I appreciate it. I appreciate that they are them though. 100%. Rather then finding out later that they suck. That's the worst. I'm not even talking about staying over at some one's house. I'm talking like every day life. Like walking down the street and seeing a friend through a friend that you don't see in weeks and then after a year, you realize that oh my god this person sucks. What do I do? That's sort of compounding in the process of finding a place to stay. Which is a necessity. Kind of building that confidence of talking into a microphone and begging for a place to stay. In a way, as a starting band, you're begging for everything. It has to be enticing enough.
Then I wanted to ask you. Knowing a lot of bands that are in the New York area and kind of how it's much more saturated. Million shows going on every night. The difference between the crowds like in Boston versus NYC because it is a smaller city.
Well, it's hard to say. I mean this is our first Boston show. Not for me but for this band. So in my experience, Boston and New York are slightly different. New York is really difficult. I don't want to say people don't give a shit over there but they don't give a shit. Everyone and their mother is looking for something that you can give to them. Whether that is an opportunity or whether that is something that they haven't seen before. It's almost like when you play in New York you are sometimes 'What do you have?' and they're a lot more judgmental. At the end of the day, what we try to do is we want to get people out of their comfort zones and it's worked really well with New York crowds so far. As far as the crowd goes, every city is monumentally different. I don't necessarily want that to be the centerpiece of this question but we've had great shows in New York, we've had some very stacked audiences and we'll see how Boston goes. I mean it seems like a good college town. A party town. I will say Boston has a lot of funk bands.
Yeah they do!
Is that true? I think college kids really like funk music. Seriously I mean.
Well yeah it seems it! Then the EP is still super new. You don't have a full length yet for this band. Maybe a little bit behind this single that you started out with "Goodbye". Maybe the story behind it?
It was a song that I primarily wrote a guitar part for. I don't normally write songs with guitar parts in mind but this song for some reason that guitar part started and I just thought it was nothing like what we had done. It was nothing like I had really explored before. It was something that really piqued the interest a little bit. It was something that felt very moveable and very danceable. That's one of our favorite ones to play and we've been messing with it too a lot live. We've been branching out with it as we can see fit.
Then for the album itself. You released it just in November but it had been recorded from watching other interviews about a year before.
A year before it came out.
So maybe the writing process now, is it pretty similar to what you were doing then?
No absolutely not. I'd say it's very different now and it's always changing. I mean the thing about the writing process is I don't believe in falling into a pattern. I believe a pattern will only last you for so long. I think once you fall into certain patterns, you stop having the want. I feel like that's why a lot of bands break down. I think it's a reason to not play anymore. Every song is totally different. It's like your own child. You have to let it be it's own thing but the writing process as far as that went was a time where we were all very collaborative on that. We're still very collaborative in that way. It's very much the same.
Then even though the EP is so new, are you even thinking about a new EP or album?
Absolutely, yeah. We're actually going back into the studio on Monday. To record another song that we really like. So hopefully we can go back in there with as much flair as we went in with the first time. I think it won't be a problem. We've been playing a lot together since the EP came out. So it will be great. We're going back in with the same producer so it should be great. So, yeah it's very different! Very different experience then recording the last EP. I'm very turned on by the new experiences in that kind of stuff. I just like doing something that's uncomfortable. Something that is different from the last one. The last album we tracked live. The last EP we tracked live. This one I think we're going to do more layered if we can. Maybe try some new tricks that we haven't tried before.
Was there a specific reason behind tracking the last album live?
I think because we wanted it to just be as characteristic as possible. We didn't want it to sound like anything else. I mean with the methods comes that certain kind of sound that you're going for. We're all big fans of live albums. We're a fan of the way things used to be done and we also love the way tapes sound so we decided why not? That's the thing it's a conscious choice but it doesn't have to be what you're all about all the time. It was like that in my last band. Always doing live stuff and then all analog and very strict. In the box rules it seemed like but this band now that it's up to something new, it's something that none of us have done before. We just want to try things that we've never done before nor have any other bands that we've played with.
Perfect then obviously you being in a past band that did tour, maybe the things that you brought with you to this next project and maybe things that you've decided not to do.
I mean I suppose a lot of things sneak in there but to be truly honest with you, my biggest pitfalls have been when I try to replicate. My biggest pitfalls have been when I try to re-do the success that I have had with that band and it never worked for me. There are some things that I think are better to work into this band subconsciously. In terms of this band did it this way, therefore we're going to follow this route, not really. It just can't work because it's different people.
Maybe softer now, the first CD or first cassette you ever bought as a kid then the first concert you ever went to?
First concert I ever went to I think was like Godsmack or something. They were really on top when I was a kid. Yeah I haven't been to one of theirs since. I saw like Transiberian Orchestra when I was a kid but I really liked loud distorted guitars when I was a kid which is funny because now I'm sort of moving away from that. I prefer more sparse guitars and more electronic synthesizers that are brought into the mix. I do like the live feeling still. I don't necessarily like playing to a click and I don't necessarily like playing to backing tracks. It's just not for me right now. So no matter what we're playing, whether it's digital or analog, I'm more into playing the live experience. A lot of those bands, got to hand it to them, I don't listen to Godsmack anymore but they killed it. They did really well. They had a bronze sun that was shooting fire out and I could feel it on my face. I was like a hundred feet away and I could feel the fire on my face. I remember that so clearly.
Then maybe to end it off, this is just a one off you're not on tour.
Not on tour right now but we're hopefully coming back to Boston in February and in April. Hopefully, we'll see. I would really like to. We're trying to play more outside of the city. Just trying to mix it up a little bit and find a way that we can make an actual tour viable. Right now with the internet, it's very easy to get to a lot of people by really concentrating on the content that we put out. In my opinion, I don't think anything speaks better then word of mouth. When people speak about the live performance. Nothing speaks truer then a friend telling you that they saw an awesome band. You can put as many videos up as you want but nothing is going to compare to that.
Then you talk of touring but new music wise, is it still going to be a while, like a year?
Well, hopefully before the summer time. We'd like to work quickly on this one. We had a lot of pitfalls with the last recording because we wanted to put it out right. I think we put it out in a very awesome way. Big Picture especially got us a lot of great stuff. We try to step our game up live. It took a while because things take a while but hopefully now, we can go into this one knowing what those successes and failures were last time and try to make it a little more concise. A little better.
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The Word Alive

In first week of touring season for the new year, I caught up with everyone from EDM acts to pop stars, from Datsik to Cody Simpson, but one band that has always been a interview request for me are the the Arizona dudes in The Word Alive. I've been interviewing the boys since late 2009 which is when Telle Smith first joined the band. Ever since 2010, I've been steadily sitting down with Telle for countless interviews going through their album cycles and our latest happened on their Fall tour headlining with I See Stars!
The boys are heading back around the US with this March with Memphis May Fire where we hope to catch up with the band again but for now, read on for a sneak peek into the new album the boys are working on!

How has this tour been going so far?
The tour's been great. Most of the nights have sold out or done really close. Playing some of the biggest rooms like tonight that we've ever played with headlining. I See Stars, we've toured with a bunch of times. Crown The Empire a couple times. The Dayshell dudes, well we toured with Of Mice & Men when Shayley was in that band and Covette. Their old band toured with them back in like 2007 and then Get Scared, one of the guitar players actually used to work for Greeley Estates, my old band. Then Palisades, we used to play shows with their old band Maryland Is Dead. So every band on this package, we've known one way or another. Off and on in potentially up to the last six years. So it's been really cool. All the bands are friends and hanging out so it's been great.
Then maybe, obviously you guys have been playing as a band for so long and I think the first time we've ever interviewed you, you were first band opening here, if not second. You're finally headlining this room, how does that feel considering how long this journey has been?
It's been awesome. I will have been in the band five years next month and our first tour was in December or January of that year next year. So like 2009. The last four years of touring have been definitely as you call it a journey. We've gone through member changes, we've changed with management, booking agents. Just really trying to find who we were and what worked best for us. We just kept going forward through out the whole thing. It got us to here and we're definitely thankful that we've been able to make it through it. Some of those things a lot of bands don't make it through and we're stronger for it. I think our fans have stuck by us through everything. So, grateful.
Perfect and then are you currently working on the next album?
Yeah, we are. Most of it is done. We're recording after this tour and after our next tour. We're headlining in Europe and the UK right after this. So probably like January, we'll go back into the studio and finish the rest of the record. Then hopefully spring time, probably early/late spring, we'll have a new record out.
Then do you think the writing process is still changing or do you think it's become like this steady rhythm?
We utilize multiple different ways of writing. We have the songs that the full band will sit down in a room and we just jam it out and then it just comes to life. Then we have the songs where Tony wrote or Zach wrote or I wrote or Tony started and Zach caught it or Zach started it and Tony finished it. We're just trying to find what works best for us and sometimes. It's something different from the last time but we're really open minded with each other and we're very honest. If someone starts coming up with something and it isn't great, we don't just through it away because we're all there to help finish it. We're really supportive of each other's writing and coming out with the best songs we possibly can. So I think that will show even more so on this next album.
Then we've done this so often so obviously don't want to ask the same questions. You have the UK headlining tour. What is coming up for the band?
I mean we just took four months off.
So a little bit of a break.
Yeah, that's the longest break we've ever taken as a band. So that was the major break for our band. We have the UK and Europe headliner. Then we come home for Christmas then we go back out end of January/start of February with Blessthefall. We go to Brazil and then pretty soon announcing our Spring tour that we're on. It's a great tour. I'm not sure where all it goes to or not but it will be really sweet. Then we'll hopefully have the record out on tour and we'll see where we go from there!
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Man Overboard

Pop punk shows are nothing but a good time and one of those bands that always brings is the loved New Jersey boys in Man Overboard. Kings of DefendPopPunk.com have been touring non stop since the inception of the band and are always a journalist stop I want to make. When the guys were out opening for Mayday Parade fresh off Warped Tour, I caught up with vocalist and bassist Nik where we talked the new album, "Heart Attack" to advice he'd give to new bands. With the boys about to hit Europe with Mayday Parade once again in just a few days and plans to tour the US again soon, the band doesn't show any signs of stopping and we hope to be there along the way!

So you guys really have been non stop touring since this album came out! You did Warped Tour, you're going overseas after this with Mayday as well. How do you think the album has been going over?
So far it's been cool. This is the first tour we've done so far where it's been like a lot of new songs. That's always a big change but we think it's been going good. I mean we're getting bigger tours so I guess that means we don't suck as much. Yeah, so far, so good!
How do you feel the songwriting process went for this album? Did it change from the past?
This process went differently because we have a new drummer on this record. So it's always a different change. It was good writing with Joe who's the new drummer. You just start to take things a little farther when you have the room too. So that was the first thing we did different. Then we went into the studio with different production people this record. It was the first time working with them. That was different too. It was a great experience as well. I think all those things combined is how we got what you hear on the record.
Then the new album "Heart Attack" was very recently released. Are you even thinking about working on the next album?
We never stop writing. So yeah, we're talking about doing an EP by ourselves. Doing a bunch of songs and recording them on our own. Like I said, we never stop writing so it's good that we have a studio to go to and do it for free. So that helps. We'll probably do that sometime soon. We'll see.
Perfect then I wanted to ask you. Obviously you're watching a local Boston band's hat that's success level is probably on par with yours in Transit.
Oh yeah! Of course, of course.
So maybe, especially considering your blog DefendPopPunk, advice to bands just getting started to kind of make that break out?
I mean, just don't go home for a while. Stay on the road as long as you can. Make your next move where ever you can. Play shows wherever you can and just give your music out for free. You're not going to make any money so might as well just give it away. Hope people will like it and will come out. Maybe.
Perfect, then just because we have interviewed the band a bunch in the past, the first CD or cassette you ever got as a kid and the first concert you ever went to?
First concert I ever went to was a 311 concert and the first CD I ever got was Coolio's single "Gangsters Paradise".
Do you think either of those influenced you at all?
Of course. You can tell. Playing pop punk listening to 311 and Coolio. No, I don't think they influenced me whatsoever but it was a start.
Then obviously the tour with Mayday has been announced for the overseas portion but what is coming up like after this?
We have a break at Christmas but then we go out for like three weeks with Mayday so staying on the road. Staying busy.
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Heffron Drive

In music journalism, I tend to be exploratory but still really only stick to what I know. I've interviewed what seems like hundreds of bands. I interview the bands I haven't heard of before that open for bands I already have worked with. The way I take it on though stops me from knowing if the band I'm interviewing is all over mainstream radio, has celebrity connections or even found themselves on a tv show and that was the case for this interview with Heffron Drive. Heffron is Kendall Schmidt's current project while on hiatus with his other band, some group you may know called Big Time Rush. While I knew of his work going in and kind of had an idea of how he may be, he completely surprised me in this interview!
Kendall is a true music lover as it comes across in this interview. We talked about how this project was around before he even did Big Time Rush as well as what may be happening in the future for the band. Bonding over a love for Smallpools a band I had interviewed the night before, I got to see a different perspective of the self called boy band member. While Heffron Drive is just beginning and no music can be found yet to be bought, this is sure to be a great new project!

For this project, it is obviously something super new but what have you realized are the three things that you must have with you while on the road to survive?
Must haves on the road? Almond milk. Organic almond milk because otherwise it's like Almond Breeze which is fine but it's not the same thing. It's like ten ingredients compared to like three ingredients.
Bit of a difference.
So that because I just need to drink milk every morning. An extra pillow for the bunk. Usually your own blanket too because a basic mattress set isn't the comfiest thing in the world and the humidifier. A portable one. The one I got recently you just put a water bottle on top of it. It's really cool. Especially for all we have on the bus is bottles of water (laughs).
Perfect! Then how did this project come about?
It was actually something where we started making music. I really took a liking to making tracks on Logic and after I would put something together, Dustin would come over and we would start working on the lyrics together. He was always ready to go with a verse and then I was always ready to go with the chorus. So we started making songs and then after they started becoming songs, we were like 'Well, we have to come up with something to release it". To call it. With Heffron Drive, it was the street we both lived on so that's what I did. Then it got popular on Myspace. I started making Youtube covers as well and this was when people were getting signed off of Youtube like left and right. 2008 was really crazy. So it was almost just like people were looking up covers. Like from anybody. I started getting a lot of views on mine and kept getting more popular on Myspace. Then, late 2008 I booked Big Time Rush. I had been trying to have a job like this my whole life. Like a consistent television show being a kid actor. At the time it was barely a band. It's like a fun project, he was just like go for it. Then did Big Time Rush, I wanted to bring this back.
So it isn't a new project. It's something that you've had for so many years but now it's kind of being able to be on the road.
It's a revamp.
A revamp?
Yeah.
Well then I know from interviewing Ariana tonight as well as Eric, I wanted to ask how you go about this tour.
Well, originally it was totally acoustic and it's sort of as toned down as I can make it. With the songs that I have but it's kind of interesting. Ariana has a full band but they play sort of acoustically but my set is pretty rock and roll at the top then crescendos into acoustic at the end. So it's interesting?
Then is a new album like on the horizon for this band or do you think it's still going to be a while?
Yeah, I'd love to. I mean first I would just like to put a single out. I'd like to be able to. I just can't. Legally can't. It is nice to be able to play the new songs live because people, they already know the words to the new ones I've been playing. It's kind of nice. They all know it and I'm the only one who has the mp3 which is really cool. The one that I'm really pushing I'd like for it to just get popular amongst the people who like the band and hopefully more people. Then when I do get the chance, it should make it pretty easy to get there I would hope.
Perfect, then being someone that has been involved in doing music for so many years now, the first CD or cassette you remember buying as a kid and the first concert you ever went to?
It was a cassette. Honestly both of them I think, meaning CD or cassette and concert were Garth Brooks.
So the country influence?
Yeah, I'm from Kansas originally.
Do you think those influenced you, like music you're doing today or being a musician in general?
Absolutely! Both. I mean Garth Brooks was the king of arenas. The original arena country artist.
I grew up country too, I love Garth.
The way he looked onstage was amazing. I mean even using the mic that Big Time Rush uses when we're doing full choreography and not holding a mike is the same mic that he uses and he designed that mic because he was the first person to have that type of wireless system. So he could play guitar and sing at the same time. It's really cool. So it's sort of full circle. Then I also played the Kansas State Fair which is where I saw that concert. So I got to go play the place I saw him play which was really cool. I guess I'm trying to see where I fit in. Like with Big Time Rush, it was more pop but am I going to fall into that pop world with this one too? If I did get a song on the radio, what station would play it?
I mean to be honest maybe you can tell but I don't really know a lot about your other band. I mean I don't 'really catch Nickelodeon.
Well, you're learning now.
Well yeah I'm learning now.
About Big Time Rush?
Well I mean the average Nickelodeon watcher isn't actually my age.
Well no yeah but you'd be surprised. It's pretty crazy. I mean Big Time Rush is an arena pop band.
Like a boy band, not in a bad way!
Yeah no it's a good thing!
Boy bands do really well these days.
Like I don't think Big Time Rush would ever really get a shot at radio because of what it is.
Do you know 2Gether? It was kind of a more satirical take on MTV. Aging myself at 25.
I'm 23 (laughs).
Well, MTV had a show where they formed this band called 2Gether and they released actual albums and they went on tour. Kind of what Nickelodeon is doing with your show.
Well, MTV owns Nickelodeon.
So makes sense. See, I don't know those little things.
Well, now you do! So hopefully I'd like to see you again. Hopefully you can tell me where you think we would fall then.
Yeah, well next time around I'm sure. Speaking of this band touring and being out there, what is coming up for Heffron Drive and not other projects? I know you may be busy with the other band.
Well, no that's why I'm doing this because I wasn't crazy busy recently and I wasn't about to not be busy. If I didn't do this tour, I'd be writing right now anyway. Whether it was for Heffron Drive or me writing a song for somebody and doing a feature with them. Like featuring Kendall Schmidt or writing for somebody else. When I get home, I'm going to take a vacation. I'm really tired. I haven't actually taken a break in three years. So yeah I'm going to take a vacation. One of the guys from Big Time Rush is getting married so I'm going to go to his wedding then I'm going to get right back to writing again but our new big song right now that we're pushing is "The Art of Moving On"!
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The Maine

It's crazy to think that I've been fully immersed in the alternative music scene for almost five years now and one of the bands I always make an attempt to catch and interview are the Arizona darlings The Maine. I've been interviewing the boys ever since 2009 when they dropped their debut full length record and "weird cousin" in Garrett's words "Can't Stop, Won't Stop" all the way up to their latest and fourth album "Forever Halloween". From asking the band about their favorite treat in the beginning to now grilling their minds over their current audience and the way their writing process has changed over the years. In our most recent interview, I sat down with Garrett Nickelsen from the band while they were on tour with Anberlin. There are several bands over the years that I've seen explode for good reason and The Maine will always be one of our favorites to cover!

Now that 'Forever Halloween' has been out for a few months and is definitely the most "different" amongst the discography, how do you feel it's been going over?
Good! Things are pretty awesome. We've been playing a few more new ones on this tour. I think it's given a little bit of time for people to learn the songs. They've been going over great. It's been cool. It's been a lot of fun.
Then being on this tour with Lydia, Anberlin and From Indian Lakes, is this the kind of touring environment that you think you're going to be sticking to?

Um, I don't know. You know, we never like doing the same thing too many times. There's a lot of bands who just do the same tours over and over and I feel like at least for me, as a listener, I want to see something new. So we like to switch it up. We just like to tour with friends but then again, you can't make new friends if you don't go out with new people. So it's been awesome. I mean everyone is great. We've known the Lydia guys for forever. Anberlin dudes are kick ass. Everyone's awesome. It's been cool. We'll see what happens.
Then I know with this album like I said it before, it definitely is going to be a big change for fans. Not in a bad way but just kind of growing up. Do you think you've gained a new audience from that?
It's so weird for us because in our heads, it seemed kind of like the next step from "Pioneer". I definitely can tell the difference from "Can't Stop" but "Pioneer" and "Forever Halloween" to me they feel like brothers. Then "Can't Stop" is like a weird cousin but we have heard that alot. That it is a lot different but like I said, we're not one of those bands who seem to do the same stuff over and over again. We're not in this to do like the same shit. I was never into bands who did the same record over and over. It's annoying. It just shows where their heads are at. They don't have enough confidence in themselves to try something new and push themselves. Maybe they mixed it up once and then were like 'Oh we messed up!' 'No one like us anymore!' I mean we've been lucky enough where people have grown up with us and have stuck around. I mean we've played here so many times (House of Blues, Boston). Every show here is awesome. We kind of feel we've done something right. Or at least not trying to fuck over our fans and do the same stuff because there's always that record. Maybe they like that record more then any of the other ones but they always have those songs. It's not like we make a new record and the old record is deleted.
You guys don't only play one album live. You still play old ones.
Yeah, we always play the old stuff and the new stuff. We never like to only do one record. Like when a new record comes out, only play that record. I mean we did do that once I guess (laughs).
But kids knew that! It was special.
Yeah, that was a special thing! I know it is different. I think that's the important part. That we're all pumped. We're all happy about what we've done and we still like making music so we're going to try and keep doing it.
We've interviewed you guys over several albums now. It's been a while. You guys were one of the first interviews I actually ever did. With Kennedy on the Boys Like Girls tour. Like VersaEmerge and when Rocket was just starting.
That's a long time ago. That tour was nuts.
I asked like what was your favorite treat. It was pretty embarassing so when I was putting the links in order in the email to 8123, I was like let's put this one farther down the list. I was like don't read the favorite treat one, let's put the heavier ones at the top.
That's how we kind of feel about certain things. It's like you're young.
I mean, that was like four years ago.
Yeah, I mean how are you not supposed to grow up from there.
No, of course! Then maybe to end it off, like I said you guys are always touring and this album is still really new. What is going to be coming up? Are you even thinking about writing for the next record? Are you going to take some time away from everything?
A "record" record, I think we still have a while but maybe like an EP or something. Maybe like an acoustic thing. Something is going to happen. We always like putting new stuff out but as for an actual record, probably not for a little while. We kind of rush records and we always like pumping new stuff out. We were like let's try to make this one last a little bit longer but we're always writing new music so there's songs sticking around. It will happen, I just don't know when!
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