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Interview: Hit The Lights

Hit The Lights exploded onto the pop-punk scene five years ago but after the release of their second album, 'Skip School Start Fights' in 2008 it’s fair to say it’s all gone a bit quiet. Nevertheless the five-piece are set to return in the autumn with a new album on Universal Records.

Alter The Press! had a quick catch up with guitarist Omar Zehery to find out exactly what the band have been up to this last year. Omar talked about being part of Universal, working with Yellowcard's Ryan Key and Kenny Vasoli from The Starting Line, future tour plans, and more.

ATP: What made you decide to come back to Slam Dunk for the second year running?
Omar: Ben, who runs this. We met him years ago and he put us on shows at the Cockpit in Leeds so he just bought us back which is amazing. We were really stoked about that and the fact he would like us enough to bring us back 2 years in a row.

ATP: You played Slam Dunk last year and it feels like it’s been pretty quiet on the Hit The Lights front, what have you been doing?
Omar: We have spent the last 2 years writing a record. It’s been a whacky time. Definitely for us it was shitty to be off the road for all that time, but the whole thing is going to be completely worth it - the new record, the songs we’ve done and the way our minds have been blown way open. It’s really put a magnifying glass on what’s important to us about song writing and songs in general. So we’ve spent like 2 years, had 40-something songs; scrapped the majority of them and we’re going with the shit that we’ve written in the last few months.

ATP: How come? Weren’t you happy with them?
Omar: Yeah, we’re at a difficult stage for a band because you want to make something that your fans are gonna like; you wanna make something that other people outside of those that know your band are gonna like, and the last thing we’re thinking about is the shit that we wanna write, y’know? So that’s us in a nutshell. It’s been a while but it’s definitely been worth it.

ATP: When is the new record coming out? Any plans to come back for a full tour anytime soon?
Omar: We’re trying to put it out in the fall. I want to come back here to tour. I’m gonna talk to our agent and tell him we’re gonna finally put out a record and we’d love to come back in November/December.

ATP: Any exciting collaborations coming up? Who have you been working with on this new record?
Omar: Yeah definitely. Something that we did a lot of on this record was co-write with other people. That’s been really interesting because we’ve been working with a lot of people who’s music we love - like Ryan Key from Yellowcard, Tim Pagnotta from Sugarcult, Kenny Vasoli from The Starting Line. So it’s been really amazing.

ATP: You’'re also now signed to Universal. How did that happen? Do you feel there’s more pressure on you now to bring the goods?
Omar: Yeah, there’s definitely a magnifying glass. Fred, our last label dude, would be like “OK so you’re going in to make a record” like 'Stick Up... or Skip School' and we’d go in and make it. And afterwards we’d be like “so what do you think? What should we change?” and he would say "listen, I signed your guys’ band because I love your band. You guys know what you’re doing, you don’t need my input”. So he was a very hands-off type of dude when it comes down to that, and that’s the difference between that world and this world now. He signed us because he thought "you guys have been grinding at it for a while and we want to give you guys a chance and an opportunity to make it to that next step." Which is beautiful and amazing.

ATP: Did you ever think you’d have succeeded on this level?
Omar: We’ve always had goals and aspirations and it was honestly just us trying to get the fuck out of Ohio. We were super influenced by seeing young bands play, especially this one band from Long Island called The Stryder. They put out two records on Equal Vision and they’re an amazing band and I remember seeing them play when I was in high school and feeling like "Man, if these young kids can do it then I can do it!" Very inspired. That was definitely the biggest thing for us - if we can just get out of town and now getting to tour all over, that’s our favourite thing. Overseas, coming here that’s always the best. That’s why we do it.

Hit The Lights on Facebook and MySpace

'Coast to Coast' EP by Hit The Lights is out now on Triple Crown.

Chantelle 'Kiki' Goodchild

Alter The Press!