Familiar Things – Interview

Saturday 14th July 2018

Formed in 2017, Familiar Things is a five-piece pop punk/alternative band from Philadelphia. The band delivers a sound that reflects their surroundings; one shaped in many ways by the Philadelphia punk revolution of recent times. Thoughtful, honest and emotive; a raw accessibility balanced out by a melodic finish and more non-traditional pop-punk instrumentation and arrangements, including piano, acoustic guitar, and three-part vocal harmonies. Subsequently, the band sees themselves drawing on more mainstream alternative influences and credit the early-mid 00’s purveyors of the genre with much credit. The likes of The Starting Line, Yellowcard, and Mayday Parade all shining through on debut release “Fade Into The Scenery”.

What’s your background, and have you all been in bands previously?

Each of us has had our own experiences with other bands. Myself, Bebo, and our guitarist, Jon, were in a band four years ago called Straight Down Maple. The music itself had potential, but we never got the chance to do anything with it. Our producer and lead guitarist, Ty Magazzu, was in a band called Ghosts And Androids that also found some success. Probably the most previously successful member of the band is Kevin, who was part of the Philly based Anomaly. Also, I am a music teacher and learned most of what I know about song writing from my piano and music theory courses in college.

Your EP “Fade Into The Scenery” has been out for a few months now. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

We feel incredibly grateful at the level of response we’ve gotten on the EP. We have heard back from people from all different parts of the world with kind words about our debut EP, and as a band of our modest caliber, it has been extremely humbling and appreciated.

How did you work together to create the final EP? You’ve been a band for around a year and have a great release under your belts. I’m guessing there’s a strong bond and work ethic between you all to be achieving that already?

The thing that I’ve grown most fond of is our commitment to perfection, and of course, the laughs. When we are in our rehearsal space we are either stringently perfecting our sound, or laughing our asses off. It makes rehearsal time both effective and enjoyable. I’m finding this same thing to be true as we sit in the studio recording our newest single, Lately, these guys plain and simple know how to have fun.

What’s the story behind the EP, and what influenced the tracks?

Fade Into the Scenery is a work of collaboration and discovery. We were new together, and thus had to find our place as songwriters working together. Four of us brought the individual structures of all five songs and we worked together to make these songs embody all of our influences and styles. In regard to lyrics of each track, they are either experiences we have had or stories that we wrote for people to relate to and connect with on us a personal level. Music is, after all, about discovery.

Are you looking to shoot any music videos for the release?

We have been workshopping music video ideas for our upcoming single, Lately, but the more we consider the resources and time it would take we’re feeling less and less hopeful. With proper planning and a little luck we hope to put something tasteful out come mid-fall, but the song selection is still TBD.

What’s the local music scene like in Philadelphia for up and coming artists, how easy is it to get gigs, and is there a large pop-punk following?

We feel we are extremely fortunate to live in a city that is so open to local DIY music in Philadelphia. The availability for shows is remarkable, and the turnout in the pop punk community is inspiring. We really couldn’t thank the Philly pop-punk scene more for its continued and growing support.

Do you remember the first gig you performed at live, and how do you feel your live shows have evolved since then?

The first show that we played was a Tuesday night at William Street Common. It was 10:30 and two of us were sick. It was without a doubt the worst it could be. The silver lining around that show, though, was that they have only gotten better. We’ve had the pleasure of playing at staple local venues like The Barbary, The Voltage Lounge, and Kung Fu Necktie. As a performing band I’d say we’d pride ourself on our tightness and sheer personality.

Are there any bands in particular that you aspire to open up a stage for?

Between the five of us, it seems like the band that we look up to the most is Mayday Parade. We all really admire their songwriting style and energy, and it would be a dream come true to be able to share a stage with them.

Being in the early stages of your music career, how are you finding the process so far and have you been given any lasting advice?

This is all just so cool. Of course the shows, and making friends, and free drink tickets are all amazing, but I’m finding excitement in other aspects of our music as well. For example, we have been putting a lot of thought into branding, and how our look relates to our sound. There is an immeasurable amount of things that contribute to a bands success, and concisely following those avenues is pretty exhilarating.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Over the next few months, we have a few more local shows lined up between Philly and New Jersey. After that, we are looking to go on our weekend tour sometime this fall to some of the surrounding states in the Northeast, with some other local shows thrown in. We are also in the process of recording a new single that we are shooting to debut sometime around late July or early August, with a new EP hopefully on the way later this fall or winter.

Connect with Familiar Things via their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

VISTA – Interview

Tuesday 12th June 2018

An electronically-tinged alternative rock band, NY-based outfit VISTA originally formed in late 2015. Comprised of lead vocalist Hope Vista and guitarist Greg Almeida, the band combines both modern alternative rock and electronic influences to create their unique anthemic sound. VISTA released their debut 4-track EP “VERSUS” shortly after their original inception, in which their debut single “On The Brink” debuted worldwide on idobi radio. Their name hasn’t been shy in the press, since; the band has garnered praise from outlets such as Alternative Press, Rock Sound, Substream, and AXS. Success has continued to rise, after VISTA recently dropped details of their upcoming 25-date Bloodlust Tour, following their surprise single “Witch Hunt,” which has already racked up over 20,000 streams within the first 18 days of release.

Photo Credit: Holly Turner

You released your new single “Witch Hunt” a couple of weeks ago. How are you finding the response to the track so far?

Hope: Really awesome. We’ve never really been able to figure out the Spotify puzzle, but “Witch Hunt” became our most-streamed song in just 10 days, I think. People on all social media grounds have been insanely kind to us about this release.

Greg: Yeah, I’m super stoked about that and how we’re finally starting to pick up traction with it. People have been so nice.

What was the decision behind deciding to surprise release the single, and what was the fan reaction to it? I notice you were putting out teasers on the lead up to it…

Hope: I don’t think we’re going to surprise release anything again, but we just wanted to try a different marketing approach. We hadn’t dropped something without warning before, so we just mapped out a plan and chose to announce our upcoming tour and “Witch Hunt” back to back. I think people were a bit confused at first, but once they realized it was music, it built up. Definitely an interesting thing to see, and a one time thing.

Greg: Yeah, I’m happy we did it though. Everything is a learning experience. Some stuff about the “vague” marketing techniques were cool. In the end I think it all worked out though.

What’s the story behind the single?

Hope: We were angry during our last tour about how things in modern media were unraveling in terms of both politics and figures in the entertainment industry. Not pinned on one person in event in particular, it’s a track about internally questioning who you can trust amongst universal chaos.

Greg: Yeah, honestly it’s just about that feeling of hysteria we got. It really feels weird having no one to trust or look up to sometimes.

Hope: And we have felt that a lot collectively as a unit, as VISTA. When you’re putting your trust, time, passion, and money into your business and career, feeling a lack of trust in your surroundings is one of the most frightening things there is.

Will there be an accompanying video to follow?

Hope: Yes, we just shot a music video for it a few weeks ago, but we haven’t announced the release date for it yet.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

Hope: Nothing planned for another EP as of yet. We’re focusing on promoting this single, promoting The Bloodlust Tour, and releasing that video. Once all that’s complete, then we’ll start some conversations about what our next moves are. We moved very fast last year and did a lot back to back. So right now I think we’re just taking it one thing at a time, watching our pace.

Greg: Yaaa. We’re always scheming though.

You’re heading out on The Bloodlust Tour in less than a month now, and you’ll be performing 25 dates. How are you feeling about getting back out on the road?

Hope: Stressed, to say the least. It’s a long tour, our longest yet, so we’re still piecing together certain things and are crossing things off our to-do list. Once everything’s crossed off, I’ll feel a lot better. But either way, I’m excited to play a lot of shows, I also just love having content to post on social media, and meeting new people. I’m excited to go to new states I’ve never been to.

Greg: It is stressful but we are just trying to power through one thing on the checklist on the time. I love being on the road though.

Are there any venues in particular that you’re looking forward to playing at?

Hope: I’m excited to go to Texas, I’ve never been there. We’re doing Nashville again, which is one of my favorite cities ever. Potentially my favorite overall just to be in, breathe in. I’m also really stoked to play in Raleigh. My favorite show is set in North Carolina, One Tree Hill. So I’ve always just wanted to be in North Carolina.

Greg: I am very excited to play in all the new cities. That shit is my favorite. Other than that we’re going to hit our favorites like Nashville and Long Island. Back to Orlando too!

What can we expect from the tour, and will you be performing any more new material?

Hope: We’ve actually been playing “Witch Hunt” live since March, but nobody knew what it was. So we’ll be playing that every night, most of the “Long Live” EP. We have one other new song that isn’t released yet that we’ve also been playing since March, you’ll hear that every show. As always, our lighting rig. Just a ton of energy, nice flow, my weird stage outfits. We also have our Long Live 1 year anniversary show in our hometown on 7/19, that’ll be our longest set yet, I think like 12 songs?

You must be so excited to be performing at the Vans Warped Tour this year. That’s got to be an experience for any band, and even more so knowing it’s going to be their final year. How did the opportunity come about?

Hope: We had this on our band bucket list since the start, so we’re just excited to get the experience. It was honestly just timing, we knew the right person and made the connection, and he gave us the opportunity. You can catch us walking around the entire day with picket signs (I’m actually stoked to do this).

Greg: Yes! It’s gonna be so cool dude. Reminds me of when I played Bamboozle back in the day. We’re gonna make that set count for sure.

What do you get up to outside of music to help make ends meet as a band? I notice you’ve been appealing for donations to help with your upcoming tour and travelling costs.

Hope: We actually haven’t appealed for any donations; that would mean we’ve begged or urgently requested. We have always been very transparent about our financial situation, being a two-piece band with no financial backing, so we have made posts saying that if anybody would like to buy some merch, all of the money from merch sales will go directly to tour costs. Since we only ship in the US, we’ve also included our PayPal in the posts and said that if anybody would like to help us out, here is our direct PayPal link. But we’ve never asked or begged people to donate to us for tour; we have just put our info out there if anyone wants to help, and we’ve always made that very clear. All costs are on us, as we’re choosing to do this. It’s very difficult though. I work three jobs, six days a week and Greg does overnight shifts in the city. I also pay all of my own bills and live on my own, as well as meeting my half of the band cost split. It’s difficult, we don’t hide that, and if anyone has ever been willing to help, we appreciate that more than anything. But we also understand that the costs are our responsibility, which may eventually lead to not being able to do certain things because we just simply can’t afford it. I think it’s important to be transparent and honest with our audience about this type of thing so they understand all facets of being an unsigned band. The biggest challenge is building this while also trying to live comfortably.

Greg: Hope explained this very well. I’ve been very blessed to have a job with a super flexible schedule that pays well, and I essentially just call them when I want to work. I also get to see some pretty cool stuff at work too every now then. Anyways, yeah you have to budget everything to a T in order to make this work. It’s tough.

Connect with VISTA via their Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Burden – Interview

Wednesday 6th June 2018

Canadian post-hardcore quartet The Burden released their new EP ‘Presence of Past Tense’ back in February, and it has been described as their first step in meshing as a new band since their recent line-up changes.  With the tracks sitting somewhere between their previous EP and upcoming full-length record, they decided to give them their own crown of glory, and release them as a taster of their progression in sound and solidity as a band.  The Burden bring 5 solid tracks that channel from heavy metal to progressive metal, with elements of pop and influences from late 00’s post hardcore, and with Underoath vibes I was eager to catch a moment and find out more about the release and future plans.

Your EP ‘The Presence of Past Tense’ has been released for a while now. How have you found the response to the record so far?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. People have been really into it, and its been getting a lot more exposure than our debut album did, so its been really awesome to see our fanbase growing as a direct result of this release. And these songs have been really well received live. We played a show fairly close to the release date and people knew the lyrics and were already singing along.

What’s the story behind the EP?

The EP is a collection of songs we were working on around the release of our first record Modern Disease and some songs written while working on our next album. We had a bit of a lineup change between Modern Disease and now, so there was a bit of an adjustment period in writing and settling into the new dynamic of having different band members. The EP is what came out of that transition period, which is part of where the EP’s title actually comes from.

How did you find the process of putting it together, and did you face any hurdles you had to overcome?

The process of putting this record together was a headache to say the least.  There was roadblock after roadblock when planning to track the EP.  Eventually, despite our lack of skill we learned how to track ourselves and sent the tracks over to our producer, Jordan Chase for mixing. The second verse on A Search For Solace was actually rewritten last minute as well! A lot of the vocals were reworked/rewritten while tracking, but we are incredibly proud of how it all turned out.

What about the final track listing, were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Actually – kind of the opposite! The songs that are on this EP were originally intended to be on a full length follow up record to Modern Disease. We really loved these songs but felt thematically they don’t fit perfectly with our newer material, so we released them on this EP to give them the love they deserve.

How would you say this release compares to your previous material, and how do you feel you’ve developed as a band over the years?

This band has been a roller coaster over the years, we feel as though this EP is a natural progression and what sonically makes sense for our band.  We retain the heavy/melodic contrast from our previous releases as well as left room for growth.  We are all big general music fans and we never want to define ourselves as a certain band, as we don’t want to stunt and limit where we can go in the future. We feel as though this new EP is right at home in our discography and it has come out far better than even we had anticipated it would.

The initial idea was for this EP to just be something to tide people over until the next album, but after Jordan finished with it we realized that it was just the first step in meshing as a band with our line up being solid for the first time in our history.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

The main influence in the band is Underoath, for sure. We definitely take cues from their work ethic, do or die attitude and live performance. We like our live show to be put together, yet raw. So we really get inspired by that band. People often say we sound like ‘x band’ or ‘y band’, and everyone hears different things, but we’ve never been called a ‘knockoff’ of any particular band. So we think we’re doing a pretty good job of taking our influences and making them our own.

You’ve just released your official merch, and the t-shirt designs are pretty sweet. Who’s the creative genius that designed these?

Thanks so much! Our bass player, Ross, is actually the one who’s done all our design work. Merch, album artwork, etc. We get to keep pretty much all our visual creative direction internal because of his work, its really cool. It gives us freedom behind the scenes to explore a lot of different visual ideas for the band.

It must be a pretty cool feeling when you see someone in the crowd, or out and about wearing your shirt?

It’s so cool! There’s always been this lowkey stigma in the scene we’re a part of that says wearing the merch of the band you’re going to see is somehow uncool, but we absolutely love seeing the support in the crowd. It’s a really rewarding feeling, a reminder that there is someone there supporting the art you’ve created.

What’s the local music scene like in Prince George?

It’s strange to be honest, very touch and go.  We love the support we get from our hometown, we have a core group of people that we can always expect to turn out. However we come from a fairly small city, so for venues it’s pretty scarce.  There’s a thriving music and arts culture here with many talented musicians, but there’s not a lot of bands in our genre specifically. So booking shows can be difficult here for us because there isn’t always a large draw for our kind of music. We end up playing shows where we don’t really fit in because we are either too heavy, or not heavy enough.

Do you remember your first gig you performed live, and how do you feel your live shows have evolved since then?

Our first show was a blast! The venue was actually shut down the next day; not related to our show, we swear! I think we are definitely a much “tighter” band live now. There has been quite a few line up changes since the first show. We’ve definitely really clicked with our current line up though. We always make sure to push our energy level with every show. We love getting crazy and high energy on stage.

Where have been your favourite venues to perform?

The Habitat in Kelowna, BC is insane, we’ve only played there once but it was sold out & over capacity. Its a really nice place, great layout, stage space, etc. The crowd was really into it too. We’d love to play there again soon.

What are your plans for 2018, and what do you hope to have achieved by the end of the year?

We’re back into writing mode at this point, so we’re working hard on our second album. We’re aiming to have pre production done by the fall so we can hit the studio before the end of the year. We also just finished tracking a cover of a song by one of our influences as part of a tribute compilation we were asked to be a part of, so that will be out sometime this summer. We’re also working on booking some shows outside of our hometown for the fall as well. Our schedules have been a bit all over the place this last year, so we haven’t had as much opportunity to play Western Canada as we’d hoped. But this fall we should be hitting some of the major cities out here.

Connect with The Burden via their Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

American Standards release new single “Weep”

Wednesday 30th May 2018

Whether you can call it chaotic hardcore, mathcore or experimental metalcore, the noise laden genre full of dissonant guitars and odd time signatures has had somewhat of a revival in the last few years. While bands like Converge and Every Time I Die continue to release groundbreaking albums, newer acts such as Frontierer, Employed To Serve and The Armed serve up a fresh take on the style.

This is where Phoenix, Arizona’s American Standards come in. Formed in 2011, the band has independently released four EPs and toured with some of the biggest names in and out of the extreme genre. Their newest offering “WEEP” was premiered May 18th, 2018 exclusively through Decibel Magazine.

The song, which could be teasing a new album to come, employs several of the staples that fans are accustomed to, from instruments that erupt into chaos only to stop on a dime, to panic chords which lay the foundation for an unrestrained vocal delivered, with the intensity of a screaming banshee. Where “WEEP” really shines though, is in its attention to song structure and dynamics. It’s these elements that give “WEEP” its replay value. Rather than being overly technical or heavy for the sake of heavy, it makes the song multidimensional, allowing listeners to really feel the emotion that the band speaks of below.

We all had a hell of a year. From losing friends and family to other struggles in our lives, it wasn’t hard to get down about stuff. It also wasn’t uncommon to be out having a good time when that heavy feeling would hit me like a ton of bricks. WEEP is about how your past can affect your present. Its about trying to put your life together after tragedy. It’s easy to dwell on negative experiences but at some point you have to decide to pull yourself up and change your perspective because at the end of the day, sometimes that’s all that you have control over.” -Brandon Kellum

So, if you’re feeling the void left by bands such as The Chariot, Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Coalesce and The Bled; check out American Standards.

Connect with American Standards via their WebsiteFacebook and Twitter.

Awake At Last – Interview

Monday 30th April 2018

Awake At Last are a band that I’m always stoked about interviewing.  Each time we catch-up there seems to be a constant leap forward, as they continue to tour hard and perform even harder.  Life on the road is a big part of what these guys are all about, connecting with fans, and bringing their music to as many venues and stages as possible. They released their EP “Life/Death/Rebirth” a few months go now, which you seriously need to get on your radar if you haven’t given it a listen yet. It landed at #48 on the Active Rock Charts, stacked up over 100k streams on Spotify, has been requested by fans and spun on a number of radio stations, including SMX Octane!

Hello! It’s been over 2 years since we last spoke and it seems as though so much has happened since then. How are you all and what’s new for the band? 

We have all been doing great!  We’ve been able to keep a slow and steady climb as we continue to tour all over the country and interact with what is proving to be one of the most amazing fan bases ever.  We have a lot of ideas as far as branding is concerned and hope to put out some new music soon.

Your latest EP “Life/Death/Rebirth” has been out for a number of months now. How have you found the response to your music so far? 

It seems like our fans have been loving it.  It’s also been pretty well received by newer audiences and people who may not necessarily be into our genre.  I think that people dig the individualistic nature of the sound because they can’t really peg it as a certain genre, which makes it super exciting to know that we’re developing a sound all our own.  I’ve been blown away at how much support we’ve seen since the release.

You did a lot of funding for the EP through Indigogo. How was that experience and is it a platform you would consider using again to fund for future releases? 

I really like the idea of Indiegogo because it gives those fans who really love what we do a chance to be a part of those early phases and reap some rewards as a result.  I think that with the current meta of the internet, if bands and fans interacted more through 1 on 1 interactions, you can build the kind of fanbase who will always support and help build your career.  It becomes this amazing connection and it really helps with all the pressures of being an unsigned independent band.

You seem like a band that are constantly on the road touring your music. Do you enjoy life on the road, and how has playing so many shows helped your live performances? 

I love being on the road a lot.  It’s definitely not for everyone, but once you get into that mindset of waking up every morning with goals, and a plan to execute it becomes very liberating.  The more we play on the road the tighter the band gets and the tighter our bond as a band gets.  It’s my favorite aspect of what we do.  Even though the corporations have managed to almost turn our country into a giant shopping mall I find that the adventure is in the people you meet.  Interacting with all the people who love what we do, and even the new ones we just meet is extremely rewarding.

What about how you’ve evolved as a band? I’m constantly impressed by your drive, but what has been your main focus with “Life/Death/Rebirth?”  

We just want to continue to elevate and inspire people to pursue fulfilling lives, and do what they love and find a way to make a living doing so.  If we can be living examples that manifest destiny, and the law of attraction work then I hope that people will find the strength in themselves to also do what they love.  It’s too easy to get caught up in the societal machine of everything.  Depression and anxiety are at an all time high because people are taught to make the safe choices.  We want to light a spark in those who decide that making the adventure of your life about what you love doing the most is worth every trial and tribulation.

How are you feeling about performing at this years Vans Warped Tour? That’s got to be an experience for any band, and even more so knowing it’s going to be their final year. 

It’s an immense honor to be amongst the final bands to perform in the final warped tour.  It’s always been a huge staple in our scene and meant a lot to us individually as we grew up in the days when we thought it would never end.  I’m going to embrace and live that experience up to the fullest and continue to carry the torch for the bands of the genre, in hopes that even as warped tour fades, new festivals will rise to take its place and we can continue to evolve the music scene.  When one door closes, thousands open.

Spending time with your fans is something that you like to do after a show. How important is it for you to connect with your fans in this way? 

It’s one of the most important aspects of the band.  We wouldn’t exist if we didn’t have our amazing fans supporting us and helping us continue to live our dream.  We’ve been on shows with other bands where they will hang out at their vans all day before playing, but I think they’re missing out on one of the best parts of being a musician.  I’ve had amazing conversations with fans and it’s always made all of the hardships worth it.  It also creates a closeness with us and our fans and makes us feel like a unit.  It’s something we’ve always loved doing, and hopefully something we can continue forever.

I have to ask you about your single “Never Be A Memory” and the decision behind it being a stand-alone track? It’s a great song but hasn’t made it on to any of your EPs. 

Questions, and Never Be A Memory were both recorded and written during a transitional phase in the band.  In a lot of ways we were still trying to figure out what direction the band was going to go and after doing so it helped us figure it out.  It wasn’t necessarily meant to be a stand alone, it still resonates within the theme of doing what you love and pursuing your dreams, it was just built during a transition period, and when Life Death Rebirth ended up being a concept album there wasn’t really room for it on the EP.  But it’s still a fan favorite, and I’ve always dug the song.

Do you have much downtime outside of the band and are there any hobbies or other interests that you enjoy? 

The band keeps us pretty busy, but since we’re still independent and unsigned we all work jobs as well.  We all enjoy hanging out and we all have different vibes that we get into when we aren’t in the band. I know I dig role playing games, some of the others like the beach and such.  For the most part the band stays pretty focused on music because it’s the driving force behind who we are.

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what do you hope to achieve? 

I’d like to see the vision start to really come into itself.  We’ve been working on some new songs for a while and with any luck I’d like to see a release in our near future.  There’s a lot of branding and thought that has gone into this full length record.  I have a vision for what I hope it will accomplish and look forward to finding ways to bring the pieces together to make it happen.  With that I’d like to get a bit more visual and really help to tell the story of what we do, and why we do it hopefully inspiring others to pursue their passions and dreams as well.

Connect with Awake At Last via their WebsiteFacebook and Twitter

Michael Mancuso – Interview

Sunday 29th April 2018

Creating authentically fun pop music, Michael Mancuso’s songs have the ability to resonate with any listener from the first note. Describing his sound as, “A mix of Justin Bieber, Nick Jonas, DNCE and Ariana Grande,” his work is an extremely powerful blend of today’s Top 40 Pop. Michael’s new single “Give It To Me” marks the beginning of a sexier, edgier chapter in his career. “Let’s just say I was going through a dry spell in my love life. My producer/co-writer, Dan Whittemore decided to play me a track that he had been working on. When he played it I freaked out! I immediately thought of a melody line for the chorus. When I sang it over the chords, Dan got just as excited as I was. From there it came time to decide what we were writing about. Even though we laughed, we both knew it was a fantastic idea and ‘Give It To Me’ was born.”

Photo Credit: Monty Limon

You’re the first artist that I’ve interviewed who has been part of an award winning a cappella group. Could you tell me more about the experience, and how it came about?

I joined The SoCal VoCals at the beginning of my 2nd semester at USC. I was inspired by the level of musicality each member possessed and felt extremely motivated to become better in every way so that I could keep up with the sheer talent in the group! I can tie almost everything I’ve done professionally back to the people I met during my time as a VoCal. While in the group, I got the opportunity to perform at the Beacon Theater in NYC, the Hollywood Bowl, the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong, and the White House during Obama’s presidency. I also toured Florida, Hong Kong and London. Other notable things I did with them include performing at the world premiere of both Pitch Perfect 2, singing at the BMI Pop music awards honoring Taylor Swift, opening for Chris Martin from Coldplay for the Universal Pictures executive retreat, and much more! I wouldn’t trade my time in the group for anything. Those people and the memories I made with them will last me a lifetime!

What music did you listen to when growing up, and has there been anyone in particular who has inspired you to make a career out of music?

One of my biggest musical influences growing up was a group called The Canadian Tenors (who later changed their name to The Tenors). One of the members is a man named Clifton Murray. He was my musical idol! To this day, my friends still tell me that my belt sounds similar to his. I’ll truly know I’ve made it when I get the chance to share the stage with him.

Could you tell me about your writing process? Being a solo artist do you have anyone to bounce ideas off of?

I thrive in collaborative situations! I rarely write alone. I find that if I don’t have someone to bounce ideas off I can’t get out of my own way. To this day I have never released a song that has been written 100% by me, and I couldn’t be happier about that!

To break down my writing process a bit, I usually start with a conversation. I try to find common ground between myself and the person (or people) I’m collaborating with. I consider myself to be a pretty open book, but in sessions there really isn’t anything I won’t talk about! I feel like the only songs that have a chance of going somewhere are songs that come from an authentic place, so I try to find a genuine angle on a genuine topic that everyone in the room can put some real emotion into. Once we have a few chords that we all agree on, I like to try to find a melodic line for the verse, pre and chorus. After the chords and basic melodic structure are locked in, I like to get going with lyrics and finish up the song!

Your single “Give It To Me” has been released for a few days now. How are you finding the response to your music?

People have received the song so well! Every now and then I get tagged in an Instagram or Twitter post that’s related to “Give It To Me” and it really makes my day.

Will there be an accompanying music video for the single?

Yes! We will be premiering the music video soon, so stay tuned!

How does “Give It To Me” compare to your previous material, and how do you feel you’ve grown as an artist?

Give It To Me is a true single, in the sense that it doesn’t necessarily reflect where I was or where I’m going as an artist. But, truth be told, I loved the song so much I couldn’t leave it unreleased. I truly enjoy the pop-rock vibe of the track and the energy of the chorus, but my music following this will be as close to main-stream pop as I can get! Very excited to have “Give It To Me” out in the world, but also extremely excited to share my next couple of songs.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

As of right now, no. I will be releasing songs 1-by-1 as singles!

You enjoy creating memorable moments for your fans, such as responding to messages and taking photos. How important is it for you to interact with your fans in this way?

It is probably the #1 reason I want to be “famous”. If people are kind enough to show me and my music love, I would love nothing more than to interact with them and thank them personally for making my dreams come true. I want to be known as the guy who accepts random invitations to things like birthdays/weddings/parties, surprises sick fans wherever they are being cared for, and takes time to stop for any selfie or autograph.

Word has it that you’re a gamer in your spare time. What are you currently playing?

I’m definitely on the Fortnite bandwagon. I don’t have a ton of spare time now-a-days, but when I do have a minute I love jumping on my Xbox and playing with a few friends from college!

What have you got planned for the year ahead, and do you have any tour dates lined up?

No tour dates yet to speak of, but I’m actively searching for a booking agency to help land me an opening act position in either the USA, Europe or Southeast Asia! Follow me on Instagram to see who I sign with and where I end up going!

Connect with Michael Mancuso via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.

The Lids – Interview

Monday 23rd April 2018

Combine songs about teenage love affairs and riff heavy choruses and you’ll get the majority of young bands these days. Add the energy and connection of two brothers, anthemic tunes and support from the likes of This Feeling, Hot Vox and Soundhub Studios and you’ll get Rhys Butler, brother Liam Butler and brother from another mother Sam Deas – aka Leicestershire’s three-piece indie rock band The Lids.  The Lids have been making all the right noises recently, being dubbed as ones to watch in Leicestershire, playing Tramlines and Y Not Festival and recently announcing new single “Delectable”, which dropped on the 20th April.

Your new single “Delectable” is due to be released on the 20th April. How are you feeling about getting new music out there?

It’s very exciting for us because the song is completely different to anything we’ve done before and there are so many more elements to it for people to enjoy, so yeah it’s very exciting and we’ve also got two more all recorded so we can’t wait to bring them out too.

What’s the story behind the single?

It started with Liam just playing around with bass riffs at first and then he brought what he had to practise, and over time we added the guitar and drums and eventually the synth until we thought it sounded good enough to record.

Who did you work with for the accompanying music video, and where was it shot?

We worked with a videographer called Marcus Langford. He’s local to us but he’s done an absolutely mad job on the video we’re really happy with it. It was all shot locally to us as well because we knew a fair few places that would work with the theme of the video, but Marcus knew exactly what to do as soon as we decided where to go so it all worked really well.

Can you tell me about your writing process, and how you work together to create the final track?

We have an unwritten rule in practise whereby if anyone says “let’s write a song”, we go back and play our normal set list because it never seems to work as well as if its more natural. Liam or Rhys will play a riff they’ve thought up and if it sounds good we’ll try and build on it. We don’t know why but that’s just how it works!

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

Erm, hopefully yeah! We’ve got songs recorded and we’re always trying to write more and find new sounds that work so yeah an EP or album is definitely in the pipeline.

Which bands have inspired your stage presence, and are there any bands you model yourselves on? You’re penned as giving some of the most high-energy performances.

There aren’t really any bands in particular, we just feel that if we look like we’re enjoying it then hopefully that has an effect on the crowd, and they can enjoy it with us!

You’ve been discovered by Christian Fuchs and collaborated with him on his clothing range #NoFuchsGiven. How did the opportunity come about, and what have you been working on?

We met Christian at a meet and greet in Leicester and we got onto the topic of the band and played him a couple of tracks and he really like our stuff, and was keen to work with us! It was unbelievable for a guy of his calibre and a company as big as NoFuchsGiven to want to work with us, but it’s a good thing we’ve got going, it’s just about promoting each other as much as possible and helping each other out.

It’s great to hear another Leicestershire band doing so well. What are your thoughts on the local music scene, and are there any venues in particular you enjoy performing at?

Leicester’s music scene is jammed with seriously talented acts that can go a very long way, so it’s great for us to be a part of something that’s created so many great musicians. The O2 venues are always amazing to play because you’re playing to a lot more people than usual, and the sound quality is amazing, but then so is The Cookie on Leicester High Street because it’s so well known not just locally but further a field too, and you always get a great reception when playing there which is why it still attracts huge names.

Do you have any recommendations of other local bands or artists to watch out for?

There’s so many yes, there’s Easy Life, who have completely blown up and are completely different to anything you’ve heard before but have quite rightly taken the local music scene by storm! There’s Magique too who again are creating a new and fresh sound for people to enjoy and again absolutely killing it! There’s so many it’s great to be a part of it, with our good pals from Arcades too it’s pretty exciting for everyone!

What’s the ultimate aim for the band and where do you hope your music will take you?

We’ve always said Glastonbury would be pretty cool! Aside from festival hopes and big gig hopes we’d like to release a full album at some point that would be amazing, but it’s not something we’re going to rush because when we do release our first album we want it to be as good as we can make it.

Connect with The Lids via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.