Shoot For The Skies wants to share with you their take on pop-punk (complete with dashes of hardcore and electronica). They began in White Bear Lake almost two years ago under the name City Lights & Shorelines. Having undergone their name change only last month, Shoot For The Skies is ready to relaunch themselves with shows at THE GARAGE Saturday, January 19 and February 23, and their full-length album that’s on the way.
This week we exchanged messages with Shoot For The Skies guitarist Hunter Slack and vocalist Brad Davern. Check out the interview below and keep up with the guys on their many social media pages.
New Myspace: http://new.myspace.com/shootfortheskies
THE GARAGE: Name, instrument?
Brad Davern: Vocals
Noah Rotter: Drums // Vocals
Tim DeWeese: Guitar
Hunter Slack: Guitar
Evan Miller: Bass
THE GARAGE: Shoot for the Skies’ sound is a fusion of different punk styles. How would you describe your sound and account for the resulting sound?
Hunter: A good portion of this band grew up on that SoCal pop-punk sound, bands like Yellowcard and Blink-182. In the last few years we’ve also taken a strong liking for the east coast popcore/hardcore scene as well, bands again like A Day To Remember and Four Year Strong. You basically run the two influences together and you have our sound: upbeat, melodic, feel good pop-punk with a couple breakdowns here and there. Because who doesn’t love a good breakdown these days right?
Brad: Each of us come from totally different backgrounds, which helped us pull together our current sound. Some of us like pop-punk, others death metal, others metalcore. SFTS is the product of 5 guys with different tastes in music across several genres.
THE GARAGE: Your music has so much momentum—like it pulls the listener along—a great example being “The Man with the Golden Gun.” How does your band write songs?
Hunter: To be completely honest Brad does 95% of the writing. We have all our own recording equipment and we use that to record ourselves. When Brad has an idea he’ll usually record it and then send it to all of us. When the time comes to actually learn the song to play it live though we all throw our ideas in there about how to tweak it. Once the tweaking is done we go to record whatever the final album version of the song will be. It’s a process that’s worked well for us. Right now we’re in that editing/learning stage and we should be recording the final versions starting next month which we’re super excited to finally start releasing!
Brad: I have an awful attention span. Like, catastrophically bad. I record our band, so I’ll record scratch tracks of riffs and drums by myself days and days apart because I get distracted too easily. I’m an awful teacher, and can’t talk a riff out with the guys for more than 5 minutes because of my mind thinking about things like “what should I eat next” or “what else can I waste money on?” But after rough recordings, I’ll show the guys, and then change things according to everyone’s input and ideas.
THE GARAGE: What do your practices look like?
Hunter: Back in the day we use to sit around and practice for like 5-7 hours straight with little to no breaks. Nowadays it’s a lot simpler. We usually just run through our songs a time or two and then go get Taco Bell and play video games the rest of the night haha.
Brad: We’ve been playing our current setlist for about a year now, so it’s usually just a once a week thing if that. All our current songs have become muscle memory. We’ll practice the set once then celebrate with our traditional Taco Bell runs.
THE GARAGE: Beside THE GARAGE ;), do you have a favorite venue to play? Why?
Hunter: I’ll just be straight up and say that we use to hate playing at The Garage years ago when we were a metal band called I Scream The Body Electric. It was so long ago that I don’t even remember why anymore. Obviously today that’s turned around completely though, it’s definitely our favorite local venue. We love it and always are excited to come back to The Garage and play. It’s where most of our fans come to see us and where we’ve had some of our best shows. The staff is always cordial to us as well, which is nice. Aside from that though we played at a festival in Red Wing once, the stage was huge and it had all these sweet lights everywhere, definitely a neat place to play.
Brad: To be honest, The Garage is my favorite and always has been. The size, the amount of kids who usually show up, the staff, I’ve always been more excited to play here than any other venue because they’ve been so good to us and I feel comfortable here.
THE GARAGE: What should the audience expect from your performance this weekend at THE GARAGE? And is there a particular song your most excited to play?
Hunter: This weekend will actually be the end to some of the songs we played as City Lights & Shorelines. We’re working on pushing out the old material and bringing in the new. We’ll be debuting a new song or two (depending on how practice goes) that we’re super excited to play. But aside from the songs it’ll be a typical show for us, we’ll bring energy and we hope the crowd will do the same!
Brad: A new song called “Goin’ Home To A Solid 5”. It’s fast, heavy, and feel-good all at the same time. We feel that after being with each other for this long, we’re greatly improving at mixing metalcore and pop-punk from where we started two summers ago. Our new songs won’t be drastically different from what we have now, but improved, more coherent lyrics and genre fusion.
THE GARAGE: This is a different direction, but is there a piece of technology that’s indispensible to Shoot for the Skies (aside from the obvious, like guitars, mics, amps, etc.)?
Hunter: Definitely our laptops. Each of our computers is filled with ideas for the band. Brad has all the music ideas on theirs, Evan has all the software and plug-ins we use, and mine has all the promotional material as well as just the random bits and ends like shirt designs and photos. Brad and I were at college this fall and Tim lives in Red Wing so we never really all got together in the past few months. Actually this past Sunday was the first day the whole band had all been together in the same room since the weekend after Thanksgiving. The only communication we had with each other was Facebook essentially since our phone communication as a band is horrible haha.
Brad: My Macbook. It is the heart and soul of my entire creative career. We have our recording software, all our guitar, drum, vocal presets, live effects, and all of our recordings and scratch riff ideas. If something happened to this computer, I’d lie down, try not to cry, and then cry a lot.
THE GARAGE: Besides you, what local artist deserves more attention?
Hunter: We’ve played a few shows with ChugChugWob, we love those guys so check them out. Molly’s Worst Enemy is definitely one of my favorite local bands and they play a music style similar to ours so we hope to play some shows with them this year. Our good friends are in the band Heroes Aren’t Born and Brad plays bass for them so check it out if you’re into metalcore. This band also has a post-hardcore side project called Far Side & Further so go listen to that, you will not be disappointed with what that has to offer I promise 😉
Brad: I would have to say To Be A Man, because of how well they make traditional pop punk work in a scene that’s dominated by hardcore . Or Before I Wake, because myself and Zach Tate plan on marrying each other.
THE GARAGE: What are you listening to right now?
Hunter: I’m in a big mix of genres right now. I love all the bands that InVogue Records is signing: That’s Outrageous, City Lights (Yes, this band is why we changed our name), Being As An Ocean, and especially From Atlantis. I’ve also really been into some R&B stuff like Frank Ocean and Blackbear. Brad and Noah have been into some really heavy deathcore stuff like Infant Annihilator as of late though, you’d never guess we were a pop-punk band if you hung around them long enough haha.
Brad: I always prefer some good old metalcore. Lately I’ve been jamming to In League, Capture the Crown, and Outline in Color.
THE GARAGE: Do you have any advise for a fan who is thinking of starting a band?
Hunter: I’d say just do it, there’s really no risk in at least trying at least on a local level. As a band just starting, the promoters around here will always at least give you a first chance. Just get together with some buds and write some songs you feel passionate about, if you work hard enough you’ll definitely get whatever sound you’re looking for. I’ve been doing the whole band thing for about five years now, three of those being with Brad and Evan. It’s been a lot of fun and the longer we continue doing it the more I get into it, it becomes an addiction very quickly.
Brad: Do. Not. Give. Up. We’re not even close to “making it”, and it’s still challenging. But my philosophy is that the only bands who never got to the top are the ones who quit and gave up on themselves, and that’s not an option for me, nor should it be for anyone who wants to reach any goal. Musically related or not.