Featured Artist: Traveler

Hello, everyone! I know it’s been a little bit since I’ve gotten to write one of these but I’m happy to say that I graduated from the University of Missouri on Sunday and finishing up this semester has been pretty intensive, but I can finally say that I’m done.

Anyways, enough about me, let me introduce you to this band called Traveler from St. Louis, a band looking to reinvent their sound as they begin to grow away from the pop-punk sound that defined their last release. The band formed back in December 2013 and is now gearing up to release their new concept album Resist. The band recently released their new single “Islands” that showcases a shift into a more post-rock/emo sound (citing influences such as Brand New, The Beatles, and My Chemical Romance). You can stream the song/ check out the interview below:

Live Shot - January
Traveler is: Lyle Schmitz (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Jordan Hageman (lead guitar/vocals), Nick Stough (bass/vocals), and Alex Kennedy (drums)

What’s the story behind the formation of Traveler?

Originally the band was a joke called Earth, Wind, and Fernandez. The band’s initial function was to just perform at a Battle of the Bands at Marquette High School (two of the members at the time attended the school). Eventually, the band solidified into Traveler as something more serious with Lyle taking the lead bringing in friends/members to write and record our debut release To Growing Old and Getting By which was released September 21, 2014. A decent amount of shows were played on that to promote it and get the word out. We ended up taking a hiatus in the summer of 2015 but eventually got back together to write and record the EP Something Blue which was released on August 10, 2016. We played shows on that and started writing again pretty quickly and here we are now with a full length coming next month.

You guys just released your new single “Islands” off of your new album Resist that is due out June 10th…what has the response been like so far?

The response has been overwhelming. We weren’t sure how the new sound was going to be received at all. Plus, the track is over 5 minutes and is without a true chorus. But, everyone has loved “Islands” so far and they can’t wait for the rest of the record.

I understand that your new music is a big shift away from what your music style used to be…what was the reason for the change in sound?

It’s not pop-punk like we used to be; we ended up being influenced a lot more from post-hardcore, post-rock, and emo. It wasn’t an incredibly conscious decision at first, it was a very natural progression for us. You can look back on certain moments on Something Blue and get little hints on what we’re doing now. We didn’t want to do another pop-punk record and be confined to just that. There’s a lot of genre blending on the new record. There’s some somber emo/indie rock, really aggressive post-hardcore, moody and atmospheric post-rock, and even a sludgy post-metal song. We were also really inspired by the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” type of production used on the 60’s girl groups, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys, so this record is far more nuanced and layered than anything we ever did on To Growing Old and Getting By or Something Blue. There’s definitely some hints of pop-punk catchiness but it’s much different this time around. We think when people listen to the record it’ll make sense in the narrative story it follows – being a concept record.

What’s the story behind the concept album and where did its inspiration come from?

Everything we’ve done has been concept or theme driven. To Growing Old and Getting By and Something Blue followed a continuity of themes more than a narrative. We wanted to really jump into a true concept record and tell a story. With the caustic divide and political/social climate we live in – we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to explore that. The narrative essentially follows a protagonist who is not directly effected by the problems of the world around him. He recognizes them and understands them – but he feels too small and insignificant to do anything. There is an authoritarian “1984” type of government in place that acts as an extreme of the right side of the political spectrum and is in place. Our protagonist has, essentially, everything stripped from him causing him to want to take a stand.

He joins a resistance full of different characters explored in different songs that represent different issues and themes. So essentially, the record reflects problems we’re going through now but with a semi-dystopian lens. The record is not to be taken as an anti-Trump record because we do not wish to alienate our fans – but there is some of that in there. The record more becomes about what we all have to do to reach the common goal of a functional and peaceful society. It’s more about the conversation that has to happen between two parties instead of a device to drive us further apart.

We really wanted to create something timely and timeless that could still translate years from now – in the same way that Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On did in the 70’s and it’s still just as prevalent 46 years later.

Who did you guys record your new album with and what was the reasoning behind that?

We have always self-produced in the past. Lyle is a great producer and really has a unique ear for mixing and mastering. We toyed with the idea of hiring a producer or working in a studio like Gaslight or Shock City but wanted to stay DIY. We all had a hand in producing more on this record since we all had the same goal as far as how we wanted things to sound. But this record we kicked it up a notch and bought better programs and gear to achieve that goal. We love the DIY aspect of us getting our hands dirty as well as learning new recording, mixing, and producing techniques. It’s challenging and fun.

What is the band most excited about in anticipation of the release of the new album?

We’re really looking forward to seeing and hearing everyone’s reaction with what we’ve created. It is always such a humbling experience to see and hear people say they love or enjoy something you made. It makes it all worth while when you look out on an audience and they know the words and can really get into it. Other than that we’re just really looking forward to playing these songs live.

Wrapping it all up, what does the future look like for the band? Any specific plans?

First our record release show on June 10th at The Firebird with Mariner, Union Grove, Church Key, and Secondary (which everyone should come – tickets are only $10). But playing some more shows and maybe trying to do some touring? We’re not 100 percent sure at this point. We kind of plan as we go.

Release Show Poster

Spread the word and make sure to follow us on Spotify, Facebook, and Twitter to stay up to date. We hope you enjoy the new record and we really would love to see you all at some shows this summer. It’s going to be a blast.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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