Can you talk to us more about your latest single “The Blues”? Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
“There wasn’t really any specific event in particular that inspired the song, rather it was based on many similar events. The song is about the overwhelming feeling of wanting to cheer up someone close to you who is going through a pretty tough time, but not exactly knowing the right words to say. How it just kind of sucks to see a good friend not doing so great and wanting to lift their spirits.”
Any plans to release a video for the single?
“Nothing set in stone at the moment, but we are discussing a couple options… stay tuned (; “
The single comes off your new self-titled EP – what’s the story behind the title?
“The reason we decided to go with a self-titled EP was because these songs just felt completely natural to write. Everyone in the band really brought their own unique talents and skills to the table and everything worked so smoothly that going with a self-titled EP just felt like the right decision.”
How was the recording and writing process?
“It is was AWESOME haha! We are definitely a DIY band through and through, because we just like to have control over every aspect of the creative process. Our guitar player, Dom, is our audio engineer and I (Steven) get to play producer and it’s just a lot of fun. Our drummer (Karl) and bass player (Mark) are brothers and have a family home in the Upper Peninsula. Karl and his dad actually built a small bunkhouse and, as a band, we turned it into our own songwriting/studio space. The entire EP was recorded in that bunkhouse and it’s by far the highest quality recordings we’ve ever gotten! We’ve recorded in legitimate studios for previous records and haven’t gotten close to this quality before, which is pretty cool/interesting to me. We had three of the songs prepared before we went in to record and wrote two others during our time recording in the bunkhouse.”
What role does Michigan play in your music?
“I don’t know if Michigan plays a large role in our music in any specific way… but all of us have lived in Michigan for our entire lives so that probably contributes in some way haha!”
How has Jimmy Eat World and Modest Mouse influenced your writing?
“Personally, as the front man and producer, I would say Jimmy Eat World has REALLY influenced me as a singer and songwriter… I would listen to Bleed American and Clarity over and over again trying to pick out vocal harmonies and sing along to the songs as accurately as I could when I was in high school and early college. That band pretty much taught me how to sing! I would also say they influenced my lyrics quite a bit. Their lyrics tend to be pretty emotional and introspective and I really dig that.
As far as Modest Mouse goes, I’m not going to lie, I only recently got into their music! My twin sister was really into them not too long ago and she showed me some of their newer songs and I was instantly hooked. I love how “dancey” they are, for lack of a better term. They make alternative rock music that just makes you want to get up and dance and I really love that about them. They inspired me to try and invoke that same feeling in this EP.”
What aspect of isolation did you get to explore on this record?
“Well, for anyone who doesn’t know, we all lived in the Keweenaw Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan which is very isolated… and in the winter it’s basically an arctic tundra 24/7 so you’re going to be locked up inside most of the time. I actually decided to live by myself in a small apartment for the past year as well so it was particularly isolating, because I’ve always lived with other people before. I suppose the isolation forced A LOT of introspection. It made me think about my goals, life plans, what I find important, friends, family, music, etc. This all influenced the lyrics and music on the record.”
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
“I would say the general theme of the EP is that no matter how bad things may seem you can pull yourself back up and be a better person for it. I guess I derived that theme from my own personal battles as well as watching friends around me completely turn themselves around for the better.”
Any plans to hit the road? What else is happening next in Highlight Reel’s world?
“No tours planned yet! We do have a couple shows coming up in August in the Lower Peninsula that we are very pumped about. We plan to play as many shows as we can, keep pushing this EP, keep writing, and just see where things go.”