Alter The Press!


Interview: Stereo Skyline - 29/09/09

Whilst on their first trip overseas, Alter The Press! sat down with Kevin Bard and Rob Michaelsen of the power-pop group, Stereo Skyline prior to their opening slot with Hey Monday in London.

Kevin and Rob spoke to Alter The Press! about being overseas for the first time, signing to Columbia Records, growing up in the Long Island music scene and more.

Alter The Press: How did the band originate?
Stereo Skyline: We (Kevin and Rob) both went to high school together and played for a long time. About a year ago, we met Brian on the road and, at the time, he was in a different band. We needed another member. He ended up coming to New York, jammed with us for a while and it worked really well.

ATP: The name 'Stereo Skyline', how did you come up with it?
SS: It just kind of happened. Every band is always in a spot when trying to think of a name. We were throwing ideas around. We wanted it to have something to do with New York; the New York skyline is pretty much the main thing everyone thinks about.

ATP: In the past, the line-up has changed a lot over the few years. Is this the final line-up, with the three of you?
SS: This is it for sure. When you’re in high school, you’re playing to just have fun with your friends, you then decide if you’re serious about being in a band. Some of them are in different bands, some are still in school, it all depends on what you like.

ATP: How did you end up signing to O-Zone management? (Boys Like Girls, Metro Station management.)
SS: We actually knew one of the people who works with one of managers, Jason Aron, for a long time. He helped us with getting gigs either in New York or out of state. As things picked up, when we released our EP and got more serious, Jason brought the rest of O-Zone into the picture and it all really worked out from there.

ATP: What was it like growing up in the Long Island music scene? (Famous for bands like Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and Glassjaw.)
SS: We grew up in East Meadow, which is right next to Levittown where Brand New and Taking Back Sunday are from. Everyone on Long Island knows those bands but unless you were a little older than us, you weren't really in that same scene. We weren't lucky enough to play shows with them growing up, unfortunately as, by the time we were fans; they were already doing huge shows. It's really cool to play a place on Long Island knowing these bands grew up in the same place. It's cool to know they had the same experience when growing up.

ATP: Did you ever see any of these bands live?
SS: (Kevin) When I was 17, I saw Taking Back Sunday at the Nassau Coliseum (Arena in Long Island) which was the coolest thing in the world for me knowing they were from down the block and probably drove their cars to that show.

ATP: How was playing Bamboozle Festival this year? (Music festival in New Jersey)
SS: It was the most unexpected response that we could ever have imagined. When we first walked on stage, we were so taken aback by how many kids where there to see us. With the stage times of Bamboozle, kids have a tough choice about who to go see but there were so many kids there to watch us. It was amazing. That was one of our first actual tour dates. We had done a little bit of touring during the summer before hand but we’d never actually gone out with the EP. It was unreal to see the response.

ATP: In June, you signed to Columbia Records. Who approached whom?
SS: It was definitely our management. O-Zone works very close with Columbia and had done a lot of showcases for them so, after that, they decided that they wanted to work with us and we were more than happy to agree. They treat us really well. We are going to release our next full-length through Columbia. They brought us over here on this tour because we have known Hey Monday for a while and they put us together. O-Zone wanted to get us to the UK and knew Hey Monday were doing a headliner, they figured it would work.

ATP: Who would you say your inspirations are?
SS: (Rob) I listen to a lot of old rock and roll like Queen but, even like modern day bands who we tour with, we learn something from. Everyday is a new process. It all compacts into what you become in the future.

ATP: Which artists are you listening to at the moment?
SS: (Kevin) At the moment, I'm listening to Demi Lovato's new album. She's really good.
(Rob) I'm listening to the new Jay-Z album.

ATP: What has been your favorite tour so far?
SS: (Rob) Hey Monday's US headlining tour this summer though, being here is the most unrealistic experience of my life. To be with them for two months of our lives, on our first full US tour, it was amazing.
(Kevin) We haven't done many tours to say which has been the best one, but I'd say this one so far. It's one thing to see different parts of your own country but to be able to come here, use different money, it's all a different culture and I think it’s really cool.

ATP: This is your first time overseas. How has it been so far?
SS: It's been amazing. We've had fish and chips already, like four times, it's really different. I almost like it better. The kids are a lot different and react to the music unbelievably. In the US, there are the spots where you know you’re going to have a good show because the way the kids react, but it’s been like that every night here so far. In New York and Chicago, the kids go insane and it's like that here every night. People have told us it's because, over here, they don't get a lot of American bands all the time so they really appreciate it when a tour like this comes through town, which is cool.

ATP: How has the response been so far?
SS: It's been great. We didn't know what to expect. We went into it thinking we were going to have to win over a bunch of fans and we are trying to do that. The first night we played, I looked out during the first song and the kids were having a good time, which was great. They were enjoying themselves. To see the majority of them singing the words is amazing. We haven't gotten one bad response yet. It's crazy. When we step away from the mic, for the kids to sing a part, they did it! Our bass player almost cried when he got off stage.

ATP: Any plans for a UK release?
SS: We're not sure. We have spoken about it to them and how they want to build it big overseas but I'm sure we'll be back, we really want to. Our first day, we called our manager and said we really want to come back.

ATP: When will there be a full length LP release?
SS: No idea, hopefully by summer. We are working on some new songs and trying to work them into the live set to get the kids ready. When playing live, we usually are an opener, which gives us enough time to play our whole EP and play the new songs. If we play longer, we play a cover song, 'Build Me Up Buttercup'.

ATP: What is next after this tour?
SS: We are going on a US tour up until December, so I'm sure we'll do a bunch of one offs around the country because not many tours go around in the winter.

Stereo Skyline's self-titled EP is out now.

- Jon Ableson

Alter The Press!