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INTERVIEW | 7th Ascent: A musical battleground

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by Cassie

Ever since I saw 7th Ascent play at THE GARAGE on March 6th, I have been in love with them. They put on an amazing concert and had great stage presence and I was interested in getting to know more about them. 7th Ascent is a 4-piece female-fronted modern progressive rock band from Minneapolis, MN. The band includes lead vocalist Ryanne Noelle, guitarist and backup vocalist Aaron Schutz, bassist Jason Michael, and drummer Evan Stueve. I had the privilege of interviewing 7th Ascent and was able to talk with them about the new music video for their song “Battleground,” which was released on March 3rd.

 

How did you come up with the idea for your new music video for “Battleground”?

Ryanne: Well, the song itself was inspired by my personal experience back in 2008 where I watched a close friend of mine battling (and losing) to her addiction with alcohol. Being as the song has such depth to its lyrics, we wanted the music video to equally portray the struggle between life and death that my friend faced. (P.S. she’s been sober since 8/18/08).

Aaron: The main idea of “Battleground” was told to the director soon before storyboarding. Director Ben Hughes had his own ideas. We told him that the song is about battling addiction and he came up with most of the storyboard after that.

 

What is your main inspiration when writing music?

Ryanne: I’ve always stated that my music is my public diary. A lot of the songs I write are inspired by real-life experiences…things I’ve been through…people I’ve known/interacted with/dated. Sometimes the things I feel or need to say are best said with song.

Aaron: Playing music is a breath of air. I can’t really say there is one thing or another that necessarily inspires me, but I have a talent, and I want to use it. There are many people in this world that dream of just being able to hold a tune, play a drum beat, or strum a few chords on a guitar. Nobody cares about bass…lol jk. God gave me an ability to write music and it’s my job to share it with anyone who wants to listen. I physically can’t go over a few days without playing, it gets too stressful haha.

Evan: My main inspiration is being the medium of communication from an instrument with infinite possibilities where I get to be the translator. In an outside-world sense, I get to put my personality in a format people can listen to and possibly enjoy. Nothing much cooler than that.

Jason: We recently received a message from a fan telling us that he had seen us play at Pov’s in Spring Lake Park when we opened for RED and Gemini Syndrome. He went on to say that he created a Facebook account just to tell us his story and how much the song “Battleground” meant to him. His grandmother was dying after years of alcohol abuse and the words to the song really touched him and helped him cope with the hard times he was facing. Even though I am the newest member of the band and I didn’t have a hand in writing that song, to be a part of something that helped another person get through a rough time was one of the best feelings I have ever had. We made someone’s life better by playing music. That makes me proud of what I am doing and proud of the people I get to share this adventure with.

 

Who is your favorite musical artist?

Ryanne: I don’t think this question should apply to musicians/artists, ever. It’s literally impossible. lol. Instead, how about favorite albums that will never get old to me?: Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory, John Mayer – Room for Squares, Gavin Degraw – Chariot, Paramore – Riot and Brand New Eyes.

Aaron: My favorite artist would have to be N’Sync?…LED ZEPPELIN!! Jeezus they can write songs! Bam!

Jason: I am a huge fan of Silverchair. A lot of people only think about the early stuff the band did but the albums that I’m the biggest fan of is when they started working with Van Dyke Parks (Diorama and Young Modern). The arrangements, song writing, and pure level of musicianship still baffle me. I listen to a wide range of music but a lot of it is heavy progressive stuff. I’m a huge fan of Mastodon and Inflames as well as Periphery and After the Burial. I recently discovered Bring Me the Horizon and have had Sepeternal and the new Crosses album on repeat for about a month now. I like really epic sounding music.

Evan: Blink 182 or T-Barker.

 

What do you do when you aren’t playing concerts or practicing?

Ryanne: I work full time at a medical clinic on the University of Minnesota campus.

Aaron: I am always practicing.

Jason: Not much! Between working a full time job, playing with 7th Ascent as well as a couple of other side projects I play in and DJ’ing weddings on the weekends 7th Ascent doesn’t have shows, there isn’t a lot of time for anything else. I try to spend time with my girlfriend and friends as much as I can when not doing music.

Evan: I’m a huge nerd and will be playing video games if I’m not playing drums.

 

What has been your favorite memory as a band so far?

Ryanne:Yikes. So many good memories. I’d have to say our very first weekend road trip as a band was amazing. It felt natural, like “I could get used to this.”

Jason: Going on a road trip and playing some shows in southern Minnesota. The shows were fun and we had a great time but traveling as a band, playing shows and having fun as a group really felt great. It felt like I was right where I needed to be in life and I am very privileged to be able to be part of a band with such great people and talented musicians.

Evan: There are so many interesting ones. Perhaps the banquet dinner with our old entertainment company reps, shooting the “Misery” video, or our first out-of-town show weekend.

 

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?

Ryanne: Oh boy. I’ve had my fair share. Other than calling Jason “Ben” (our old bassist’s name) over the microphone on two separate occasions, I’d say it’s when I forget lyrics. It’s like, “C’mon Ryanne. You’ve been singing these songs for HOW many years now?” I just get caught up in the moment, and sometimes I’m so into the moment, whether it’s interacting with someone in the crowd, or talking during an intro to a song, and suddenly my mind goes blank. It’s like stage fright when you clam up and just stand there…except I’m not scared. So I’ve learned to just smile and laugh at myself, not make a big deal of it, and jump in the moment I catch up to the spot I’m supposed to be. I wonder if I’m gonna get Alzheimer’s when I’m older….

Aaron: You Drive Me Crazy!!!

Jason: I was rocking out pretty hard at our CD release show at the Fine Line and jumped and caught the chord from my bass to my wireless pack with my knee and the pack went flying off. The battery flew out of the pack so I was on my hands and knees desperately looking for the batteries while the rest of the band carried on with the song. That made me a little red in the face.

Evan: Definitely the time where we messed up and got off track with our backing tracks and I had to pause the iPod from playing them because we were so off. And the occasional dropping of a drumstick is always embarrassing.

 

Which song is your favorite to play live?

Ryanne: I love playing “How I Got These Scars” because of how dark and dramatic it is. I also love playing “Dear, Miss (Pity Me)” because the content of the song is a pet peeve of mine (people who complain about their lives ALL the time and don’t do anything to change their circumstances).

Aaron: I’m gonna go with “Dear, Miss (Pity Me)”.

Jason: “The Waltz,” “How I Got These Scars,” and “Crazy.” They are just intense songs and they really get the crowd moving. Most people who listen to “Crazy” get the melody stuck in their head and will be singing it the rest of the day. That’s how we know we are doing something right.

Evan: “How I Got These Scars.”

 

What has been the most important thing you have learned about being a musician and being in a band?

Ryanne: I’ve learned that pursuing a musical career means making a lot of personal sacrifices. When the people around you are all settling down and starting families, you find yourself having to focus on learning that new song the guys just wrote, or practicing for that next big show. In the end, the support from my loved ones and those close to me make it easier. My band mates are like the brothers I never had. And seeing our fans who come out to support us sing along to my lyrics I’ve written make it all worthwhile.

Aaron: It takes equal share, hard work, dedication and persistence for anything really good to take place. Though it’s never guaranteed, the high that can come with this is an incredible feeling. Every day is a struggle to keep on doing what you love. The moment you stop, it all stops. Don’t let anybody take your happiness away. It’s who we are, and nobody can take that away from us.

Jason: Always keep an open mind and be versatile. Evan and I are the only ones who have played in other bands really and I have been in a bunch with a wide range of music styles. I originally started off playing guitar, but when I moved to Minneapolis it seemed like everyone needed a bass player. I started jamming with some bands and really fell in love with the bass and it has allowed me to do some really cool things over the last couple of years. It feels good to be able to check things off your bucket list.

Evan: At times, simply being in a band is more work then writing music and playing shows.

 

Cassie is a sophomore in high school with a huge passion for music. Some of her favorite bands are Children 18:3, Memphis May Fire, Family Force 5, and Disciple. Cassie plays multiple instruments including bass guitar, piano, and ukulele. She loves discovering new bands and learning more about them.

 

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