Featured Artist: Rain Check

Hello, everyone! Today, I give you my interview with pop-punk/alternative band Rain Check from Abilene, Texas, the youngest band that I’ve gotten to write about so far. They have just finished up recording their debut EP, citing sound influences from The Story So Far, Citizen, and Balance and Composure. Ever since forming this past December, they already have big plans for themselves and have shown to have a promising future. Be sure to check them out and be on the lookout for their debut EP!

How did the band initially come together? Where did the inspiration for the band name come from?

The four musicians in the band had been in another band previous to this one. We wanted to go a different direction musically so we parted ways with the singer we had and formed Rain Check. We added Tyler for vocals and we are really happy with the direction we are going. The band name itself actually just came by chance. We were tossing around ideas and that one stuck.

Does the band have any big plans for 2017? Are there any specific things you want to accomplish before the year is over as a newer band to make a name for yourselves?

Well first thing is to put out music. We are so excited about the songs we have and what they bring. We are influenced by a lot of bands but we definitely want to carve out our own niche. After that we want to do a small tour and just keep writing.

I’ve come to know a lot of awesome bands from Texas…what is the local music scene in Texas like? Has it felt like a good place to start the band?

The Texas scene varies a lot depending on what city you’re in. Abilene is weird because population wise it’s pretty good size but there isn’t a huge music scene. Most of the bands are either country or hardcore/metal so we are an anomaly. That being said overall the scene is pretty awesome and Texas has so many different cities and scenes that you can play for a lot of different people without leaving the state.

What’s the story behind your acoustic track Closure? Does the song have any special meaning to anyone in the band specifically or the band as a whole?

Tyler: “When I first wrote closure it was when I was deployed overseas and I could not get over the nauseous feeling of my relationship ending so I just decided to try and write some lyrics depicting exactly how I felt to get it off my chest. They were nothing flashy. Just raw and honest lyrics. It ended up helping me get through one of the toughest times in my life being so far away from my home and the people that I love. The reason I make music is to give myself an outlet of pure emotion that people can relate to and hopefully my words resonate within someone and makes a difference.”

Who will you guys be recording your debut EP with and why did you choose them?

We are recording with Luke Garrigus at Blackroom Studios. Luke has worked with friends of ours and all of his work is really top notch so we are excited. He has done bands with a variety of sounds and our music has some range from standard pop punk fare to darker more alternative sounding stuff so we wanted someone that can cover a lot of ground.

What kind of topics will the band be exploring lyrically on the EP?

Tyler: “My lyrics on the EP are basically me going through a grieving process. With Cauterize it’s the initial pain I felt. Ghost talks about how I can’t stop thinking about how I want her to come back. Life Lessons explains how I’m coming to terms with it and how I’m learning from my mistakes. Stuck is mainly how I couldn’t move forward. Pieces talks about how I beat myself up about it and viewing myself as a bad person and eventually contemplating suicide.”

Check out their acoustic track, Closure:

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Thanks for reading!

Featured Artist: Rose Gold

Welcome, everyone, to another artist feature! I’m super excited about this one as I talk to this awesome band called Rose Gold from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to perform with them yet, but hopefully that will change soon, because these guys are super talented. They just released their newest EP The Beginning Is Near, and it’s incredible. If you do anything after reading this, listen to that EP. With some touring experience in their pockets (and more planned) and this new EP, this band is only going to keep growing and getting better.

Keeping up with the tradition of past artist features, tell me about the beginnings of the band, how you guys started, and where the name Rose Gold came from.

Rose Gold came directly from a band called Paper Planets that had just had too many member and sound changes after a year and a half of complacency. We were asked to come record an EP in California and we sprung at the chance. While we were there, we talked about changing the name because the sound was so far from where we were before. We actually threw around names for a couple of months while we patiently waited to get our mixes back.

We had some names that we were alright with, yet at least one of us vetoed the top picks, but it wasn’t till I brought up Rose Gold that we were finally all starting to agree on it. I was listening to “Body Work” by Pusha T from his album Fear of God II: Let Us Pray and heard the lyrics “…rose gold on my wrist, this Rolex is like devil’s piss…”. Rose Gold stuck out because it’s a unique type of metal and the combination of “rose” and “gold” to describe something just sounds really cool and interesting. I brought it to the guys, we put it to a vote with the other contending names and Rose Gold came out the victor.

Now that I think about though I should have suggested Devil’s Piss…that would’ve been tight.

You guys wrapped up your first tour of 2017 with avoid. at the end of January…what was your guys’ experience like on that tour? Did that tour have any special meaning to the band?

The tour with avoid. was very successful for us. We hadn’t toured as Rose Gold yet, so that was the band’s first tour. Meeting avoid. was kind of awkward at first because we had never met them before this tour so we didn’t know what kind of people they were. Needless to say we bonded immediately with them and became best friends. We’ll never hear the words “dude, hell yeah.” the same again.

The shows were all great. Every show we at least sold one piece of merch or had one person who was stoked on our set…that was at the least. The rest of the shows went even better, we moved a lot of merch and had tons of fun playing. That tour was special because it showed us that touring is definitely something we should focus on due to the reaction at the shows. Being a newer band, touring seemed a little unnecessary because we’re still trying to garner a solid local following. We still get people asking us to come back to their town every now and then. After a first tour, that’s a great message to receive.

I noticed that you guys made a Facebook post about using a fill in bass player for a number of shows, which you said allowed for the band to remain a four-piece band but have the sound of a five-piece band. What’s the reasoning for wanting to stay a four-piece band? Are there plans to add a fifth member in the future?

So, the four piece thing came from our experience with the last member we let go. We learned that the four of us were on the same page and one of our members was really holding us back in a lot of ways. Once we became a four piece, we did take the time to try a few people out to be our permanent bassist but no one was feeling naturally right. After we finished the try outs, we started focusing less and less on filling the spot and more on the fact that we were making great writing progress between the four of us.

Anytime we got together after that was just reaffirming that we didn’t need anyone else to move on. We were just concentrated on making our new music the best it can be. Austin and I switch between rhythm and lead all the time so writing bass parts wasn’t difficult with the work being bifurcated. He and I have a very mutual aim for what our sound (guitar-wise) needs to be and we refuse to give up that harmony for something we can do ourselves. At some point, we do want to have a full-time bassist so we can tour and play shows without having to worry about a fill-in but for now, we’re crafting our signature sound.

Since your second EP The Beginning Is Near has been out for almost four months, let’s talk about that. What has the response been like so far?

The response has been very great. We had a lot to prove on this EP after our folly on the self-titled EP and this was us fighting for our identity and sound. I think the greatest response we’ve had from The Beginning Is Near is our own. We’re finally happy with a project and it sounds like we wanted it to sound and we’re proud to show people and say “this is us.” Locally, the reception was cool because we had played two new songs live and people were very impressed at how much we stepped it up from the last recordings we put out. That’s when we knew we were headed in the right direction. The praise was very confirming not only because of our last EP but because of the band we were even before that.

Where did the title of the EP come from? Does it hold a special meaning to anyone in the band specifically or the band as a whole and how?

The Beginning Is Near is the last line in the last song on the EP called “Shadowboxing”. The song is about realization. It’s about realizing that you cannot change people, you can only change yourself and hope that other people see your positive transformation and take initiative themselves to become a better person. That was a huge epiphany in my life in every aspect. After I grasped that idea, my whole world changed and it was like a new beginning. Thus, The Beginning Is Near, was a new beginning for us after we absorbed all the knowledge from the lessons we learned, the mistakes we made. It’s a statement on what we can really do after realizing who we are.

Your first self-titled EP was great, but the new EP feels like a more overall cohesive process and I can feel that when I listen to it. How did the writing process differ from the self-titled to TBIN, if any?

The self-titled was not written with the intention to put out an EP. It wasn’t until we had an offer to record that we scrambled to tie up the loose ends of song ideas we had. It had probably been two years since we released any music and we were coming to practice to rehearse our set even when we didn’t have shows coming up. We were being ignorant of what we needed to do. So when song ideas came up, we would somewhat explore the option and then go right back to practicing our old songs. I think we were just in a really bad place as a team that we were avoiding writing so that we didn’t have confrontation. This was a big part as to why we are disappointed in that self-titled release. It was aimless, careless and we were only putting out music because we thought going to a good producer would be enough to take us to the next level.

Afterwards, we slimmed down to a four piece and had a good talk that put us all back on the same page. With confidence in each other we started crafting what would eventually become TBIN. This time we focused on honing our sound to still be diverse as we explored some new sonic territories. A majority of the songs we were pumping out started to surprise us by how natural and easy they were to write. Once the music was polished, I began putting some lyrics to each song. Typically what I do is swing back and forth between personal songs and external songs. By that I mean that the self-titled’s lyrics were inspired by things outside me. The self-titled lyrically was about my learning about people’s various mental illnesses that I had not known of till I was 21. It was another one of those realization moments where I had to change my life because depression, stress, and anxiety were such a deep factors ingrained in my friends. On TBIN, I went the opposite way; I went really personal. I wrote about my relationship with my father, ungrateful, spoiled friends, and self-motivation. The songs had individual moods to them so lyrically I really wanted to match that vibe.

The end result is a product of the four of us being completely happy and comfortable with what we were doing. When we focused on how we got along as friends, the songs just came with easy. That’s why you hear a cohesive product that doesn’t sound forced.

Scaling it back a bit, I saw that you guys just celebrated being a band for one year in February. What has the overall experience been like for you guys so far? What is your overall perspective of the last year as a whole?

To be honest, it kind of snuck up on us. I think Max was the one that mentioned it and we were all stumped by how fast it went by. We released two EP’s, did a weekend run, played a very successful headlining show in our hometown, and toured the Midwest in that year. We were still caught up in the work that we didn’t sit down to celebrate what was a very good year. We hope to keep that same trajectory.

Looking ahead, what does the future, and more specifically 2017, look like for the band? New tours, any plans for new music or anything?

2017 is going to look even better for us. Without spoiling anything, we have a couple new songs ready to record for a short concept EP and a separate few songs we’re saving to record after that. We’re definitely looking at bigger and better shows and of course we’ll have to take advantage of this summer for another tour. We have a lot up our sleeves but we prefer to do rather than say so just make sure to keep a close eye on us.

We also want to say thank you to everyone who supports us, we’ll never get tired of thanking you guys for letting us do what we do. Thank you to all the new friends we met on our tour with avoid.

Please follow us on Spotify. That really helps us achieve much more on that platform that most people know. Follow us on our social media platforms by searching “RoseGoldOK” to make sure you’re up to date with new music, shows, and merch.

Shouts to Tamia and Brianna for shipping me my luggage after I forgot it in Iowa.

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Rose Gold is (from left to right):  Max Genzer (drums), Joseph Banuelos (guitar), Austin Elkins (guitar), Giovanni Pineda (vocals)

Check out my favorite track from their The Beginning Is Near, “Cascade” (buy it here):

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Rose Gold released The Beginning Is Near on December 30, 2016.

Thanks for reading!

Boys Home debut new single “Pretty Death” from new album “Wishbone”

Oh, man, am I excited about this. Today, I am doing something new and premiering the first single from the new album Wishbone by Boys Home! If you recall, I did an interview with these guys about a month ago and I was so excited to hear their new music and trust me, this new song doesn’t disappoint. Boys Home have perfectly crafted their indie-punk sound and this new album is going to be well worth the wait. When I was listening to this new song, some of the bands that came to mind were Hum, early Sunny Day Real Estate, and early Title Fight, and a mix of all of these sounds creates something beautiful.

Their new album Wishbone will be released on June 23, 2017. Stream the new track and check out an interview about the new song/album below!

Where did the inspiration for this new single come from? What’s the song written about?

Christian: “This was a pivotal point in the writing process for us. When I sat down to write this song all of the words kind of poured out. Some almost subconsciously. I was really just trying to capture the moment I was living in. I was really emotionally unstable, my great-grandmother had just passed. The whole song is a conversation with myself really. I felt like I was constantly having to fix myself and apologize to those around me for my instability.”

What was the decision-making process like choosing the first single to release and why did you guys ultimately decide on Pretty Death?

Lennon: “Choosing the single was kind of a mutual thing. I had fallen asleep in the studio the night Christian finished up the guitars on Pretty Death. The next morning the dudes played it back for me and I was just like  “Fuck, I don’t know about you guys but I think that’s the first single right there!” And Christian and Logan were hyped on that idea. And that was that.” 

Looking ahead to the eventual release of your new album Wishbone, what are you guys most excited about with this new album?

Logan: “For me personally, I’m excited because it’s my first record with Boys Home. It’s a little different from my other band, Four Arm Shiver. So I’m interested to see what people think. Christian and Lennon are great song writers so I imagine people are going to impressed.”

Where did the inspiration come from for the name of your new album and what meaning does it hold for you guys?

Christian: “When writing this record I really began to realize that we ride through life on a thread of uncertainty. For me, personally, I kept letting that fear of uncertainty have too much power over me and I made an effort to change. The album itself picks up where we left off with the last record and progressively gets more and more optimistic.”

Your guys’ songwriting just keeps getting better and better…was there any different way that you guys approached this album songwriting wise?

Lennon: “This record writing wise was a bit of a diversion from “Mary, Your Son Has Left Me”. With that last record we were just angry. We played hard and fast, we tried to really bring out the emotion in the lyrics but, we wanted a really raw feel with the songs, their lyrics, and their structures.

With Wishbone we’ve taken time to really bring out the dynamics in these songs and wrote slightly more technical musically. We just wanted this record to be strong and unique and I think we’ve captured that.”

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Featured Artist: ZIION

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today, I talk to Marcus Woods of the band ZIION from my hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, the heaviest band that I’ve gotten to write about so far, that have been around since April 2016. I’ve gotten to play with these guys twice and both times they’ve been an incredible band to watch live. Not only does their passion reach out through their music, but also through their live show. With a new EP out titled Pure Heart, and just finishing up the Mountains & Valleys Tour (their first tour ever as a band), they are showing no signs of slowing down.

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Credit: Laurie Armstrong Photography

How did the band initially come together and what made you guys decide on your sound as a band? Was there something specific that made you guys decide on a heavier sound?

Well, I have always been behind the visuals and sound of ZIION, and I’ve always just sort of been inspired by heavier music. Mostly from the emotion I draw from it, and at the time, when I was writing the “Pure Heart” EP I was feeling a lot of emotion, both good and bad.

Where did the band name Ziion come from? Does it hold special significance for anyone in the band specifically or the band as a whole?

Well, for around the last 5 years I’ve had a solo project by the name of ZIION, I sort of formed a connection to it being a constant in my life. But, it’s always been an outlet for music and art. Zion has many meanings all around the globe but the one that stuck with us is the Japanese meaning, which is ‘Heaven on Earth’ and a passage I remember reading that inspired me a lot was “Only those of pure heart will find Zion.”  

It holds a lot of significance for everyone really but, it holds a very specific significance to me because at the time when I created ZIION, I was ready to end my life and ZIION kind of became something that saved my life. Once I decided I was going to create a band with a positive message it turned my life completely around. So much so that I got the word ‘Zion” tattoo’d on me in Japanese.

Your newest album Pure Heart was just released this past December…what has the response been like and what did this release personally mean for everyone in the band?

The response we’ve gotten has been very overwhelming! So many people I’ve never met all around the world are listening to this music I made because I was very upset, given the numbers aren’t anything compared to bigger artists but to us the numbers we’ve seen are more than we ever thought we would reach. It meant a lot to everyone in the band too because we’ve all poured so much heart and soul into what we do. Sacrificing so much to get a message out, and to see it make an impact, however small or large, is overwhelming.

Lyrically, it seems like there are some heavy topics discussed in these songs…can you explain what kinds of topics are explored on this album and where your inspiration came from?

The lyrics in this album are all very personal and each hold meaning to one of us very dearly. For me, “friends” held the most meaning, because for a majority of my life, I’ve had demons that sort of disguised themselves as my friends. Which is why there are quotes around the word, and the song sort of just explains what I’ve dealt with battling those demons. Another song, “Queen” was written about a very special person in our vocalist’s life who was diagnosed with cancer and sort of the complications that came with her sickness and eventual passing. So, all of our lyrics have come from personal experiences and that’s how we’ll always continue to write.

But, all of our lyrics are not negative. “Close” is about facing all your past mistakes and walking away from them; moving on and closing the chapter. We want all our listeners to know that while we discuss the negative topics in life that there are always things that make life beautiful and worth sticking around for. When there is a negative, there is always a positive; balance. And we want our lyrics to act as more of a support rather than a crutch.    

You guys also put out a music video for your song “friends” off of Pure Heart…what was that experience like and what made you decide that was the song you were going to shoot a video for?

The experience was wonderful! We worked with Zachariah Mayfield, he works with Mayfield Productions and also plays in THE SICKEST band called Earth Groans. He made the whole experience very comfortable, and made it easy for us to just be ourselves. We’ll probably be working with him a lot more in the future.

We decided to shoot a music video for “friends” because, collectively it’s our favorite song to play live. We knew we could have fun with it, and that’s what matters, right?

You guys also just wrapped up The Mountains & Valleys Tour, which was the band’s first time touring…what was that experience like for you guys?

BOOOY, that experience was both exhausting and just, incredible. I personally have never been to any of the cities we hit so I was really stoked on that. But, we had to take a pretty small vehicle so it wasn’t all that comfortable. But, getting to travel and play music with your best friends? I mean, there aren’t a whole lot of things better than that.

With a new album behind you and now some touring experience, what does the rest of 2017 look like for Ziion?

We’re playing a lot of crazy shows this summer, and maybe getting another tour or two before the new year? Releasing new music for sure though, be on the lookout for that.

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Ziion released Pure Heart on December 4, 2016.

Check out my personal favorite track Close:

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Ziion is (from left to right) Evan Ryan (drums), Nathan Groves (vocals), Rayallen Hoover III (bass), Marcus Woods (guitar)

Buy the album here, and like them on Facebook!

Thanks for reading!