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INTERVIEW: Skyward

How would you classify your music?

It’s a little hard for us to describe it perfectly, but when asked we typically say loud, riffy guitars mixed with electronic pop because while that’s not a simple answer, it’s fairly accurate.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?  

While our influences are always changing, some consistent influencers of our sound have been The Killers, Thirty Seconds To Mars and Muse. We’ve always loved the way those bands mix synthetic, electronic sounds with fairly aggressive and prominent guitars all while possessing a flair for the epic and dramatic. A couple of up and coming, newer bands like PVRIS and Don Broco have shaped this album very directly at certain points. PVRIS is a master of electronic rock while there are few bands today that are riffier or funkier than Don Broco.

What do you want fans to take from your music?

One of the things we really want to focus on is being a sort of foil for a lot of the negativity and posturing that can be associated with a lot of mid-level scene bands. It feels like recently there’s been a lot of negative press about certain bands at Warped Tour and people just treating fans and venues like crap as well as writing a lot of hopeless and violent lyrics with no real resolution. While we don’t want to ignore the dark things of this world (in fact, virtually all of our songs deal with negative emotions or difficult experiences), we don’t want to just stop there. We don’t want to say “everything is awful” and then call it a day. We hope that we are able to express a certain amount of hope even amidst the terrible and hard things of this world. And what better tool than rock and roll?

Tell us about your latest release?   

We’ve been a band for a little over four years now and have already released and recorded three EPs of varying quality. We’ve been through a few band members and gone through some highly dramatic changes in style and even songwriters, and we thought it was time to really buckle down and find our voice as a band. Writing, recording, and releasing a full-length album (and self-titling it) is our way of saying that no matter what’s happened before with the band, this is us now. We see this album as our more or less “official” start as a band. Everything else to this point has just been practice. Us learning how to write and play together and just figuring out what we even liked to do.

Our producer James was massively helpful in shaping our sound and turning it into something a little more unique and different from a lot of the bands that we play with. We really see album as Skyward in it’s purest form.

What do you love and hate about the Music Business in your opinion?

As a band of fairly independent night owls, we love the flexibility the Music Business offers. There are many, many ways to make money if you’re willing to seek them out, and though the learning curve is intense, it is very satisfying to work towards something that has no easily definable path. It’s very entrepreneurial at its core and is in every sense of the word a “small business”.

The hard things all stem from what I said above. It is difficult to make money and to make people interested in your music. We’ve had lots of success over the years, but we’re obviously still a long, long way from “blowing up” or going on world tours. It is a grind, and even though we wouldn’t trade it for anything, it’s hard to deny the security and stability of a 9-5 job.

What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

The best concert we all saw together definitely had to be Paper Route on their touring supporting their most recent release “The Peace Of Wild Things”. They did a killer job making the show feel like an actual performance rather than just a setlist of their songs played in a row. It really inspired us to look at our songs as templates or beginning ideas for what our performance should be. Just because theirisn’ta dual drum solo or some kind of breakdown in a song doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be one.

Playing live, for us, is best when we’re just locked in as a band and winning over people that we know have no idea who we are. Sometimes the best way to make money is just to play three hour gigs at bars where we’re paid a set amount to perform for people eating cheeseburgers and not paying attention to us at all. It’s in those moments when you really need to work to get people’s attention. Dramatic dynamic shifts, powerful vocal harmonies, tight rhythms are all things we really honed playing for people that didn’t care about us so we could earn their attention. If we do our job right, people feel like they’re being let in on a secret. They’re hearing this band that they’ve never heard before and they can’t believe how good we sound. Hopefully we won’t have to be a secret for much longer, but until then, we’re going to keep winning fans the old fashioned way. With a great songs and a great show.

How have you evolved as an artist or band over the last year?

We’ve already mentioned some of this stuff earlier, but we’ve really just come into our own as songwriters and musicians. We’ve finally figured out how to write a five minute song after years of assuming every song should be pushing five minutes or longer. There’s a certain skill in being able to let your song be quick and dirty and getting to the point succinctly rather than drawing every musical idea out you have until it’s beaten to death. It forces you to edit your songs and decide what’s actually important, lyrically and musically, and to cut out all of the fluff that gets in the way of making your song a great song.

If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?  

There are so many bands we’d love to hang out with it’d take forever to list them all, but if we can only pick one it’d probably be Thirty Seconds To Mars. We recently all watched Artifact the documentary about the making of Thirty Second’s “This Is War” album, and it was just fascinating to see their process. Not to mention Jared Leto is one of the more intriguing musicians/actors/celebrities, and it’d be a blast to just pick his brain and try and see what makes him tick. Also if we played a show with them, it’d be guaranteed to be in a huge stadium with all of our instruments cranked, which would be a good time for all.

What is next for you?  

We are playing several shows in support of this album throughout the beginning of the fall and doing a college radio campaign alongside it. We’ll likely play a little less in the winter and early spring while we tie up some stuff with our side jobs, and then our intention is to hit the ground running late spring/early summer and play as much as the world can handle.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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