Forever The Sickest Kids
Success in the music business requires a magical combination of talent, perseverance and opportunity. The six young rockers in Dallas, Texas band Forever the Sickest Kids easily possess all this and more. They're unquestionably gifted, ambitious and hard working, and in the eight months since they formed, they've repeatedly created their own opportunities – sometimes accidentally.
Five days after their official formation, singer Jonathan Cook was flipping through the Pure Volume web site when, with a click of his mouse, he inadvertently spent $350 the band didn't have on a front page song placement. Worse still, Forever the Sickest Kids didn't have any songs written yet. So, over the next two days, the band members got together and banged out a track called "Hey Brittany," then recorded it with their friend/producer Jeff Rockwell.
"Buying that Pure Volume spot was an amazingly great mistake," laughs guitarist Caleb Turman, noting how "Hey Brittney" quickly becoming the band's first big break. "The song just took off and after that everyone was suddenly interested in us."
It's easy to see why. "Hey Brittany" is a confectionary gem that combines elements of power pop, pop-punk, electro-pop and '80s radio rock into an unforgettable sing-along that resonates with the energy and vitality of youth. Since it was first posted, "Hey Brittany" has garnered over 2.5 million Internet plays and triggered a bidding war between eight major labels. Motown emerged victorious, and recently released the band's EP Television Off, Party On, which features five fizzy, electric songs that should whet listener's appetites until the band's full-length debut comes out in Spring 2008.
Like "Hey Brittany" Forever The Sickest Kids' other songs tap into a place where boundless exuberance meets romantic disillusionment, and while the music is hardly a downer, it echoes with some bittersweet life lessons. "Believe Me I'm Lying," starts acoustic and builds with syncopated electronic beats, then busts into an exuberant, guitar-blaring pop song with yearning lyrics ("Go ahead and cry yourself to sleep and think how you hate me so bad). The sugar rush of "She's a Lady" is even more biting, as Cook sings, "I'm in love with a critic and a skeptic/ a traitor, I'd trade her in a second" over a bed of fist-in-air guitars and slithery synth lines.
"Our songs are about real stuff that's happened to us because that's what kids want to hear about," guitarist Marc Stewart says. "They want to listen to stories about things that could happen to them as well, or that already have happened to them."
While some of those stories, like "She's a Lady" and "Becky Starz" are about girls that have hurt the guys' feelings, Forever the Sickest Kids aren't entirely innocent of emotional button pushing. "Believe Me, I'm Lying," for example is about an occasion when Turman was caught red handed, leaving his girlfriend in tears.
"I was hanging out with some other girls, but I told my girlfriend that I was going out by myself," he explains. "So, the girls and I decided to get some coffee, and as we're walking to the car, my girlfriend pulled up and her headlights were right there in my face. I was totally busted."
Although Forever the Sickest Kids have been around less than a year, their roots date back to the members' childhood. Guitarist Marc Stewart and drummer Kyle Burns are stepbrothers and shared many musical discoveries in their early lives. Around the same time, guitarist Caleb Turman and bassist Austin Bello became friends and started writing songs. Years later, Stewart met keyboardist Kent Garrison in high school. Then, when Garrison went to college, he hooked up with singer Jonathan Cook and Bellows. For a while, Turman and Bellows played together in the Dallas band Ben Bradley and everyone else from Forever the Sickest Kids rocked with The Flipside. But in late 2006, both of those groups reached a creative standstill, and the Sickest Kids were born.
"We all had the same idea and vision of where we wanted to go and how important the music was to us," says Stewart. "This was something that we all really wanted."
Immediately after writing "Hey Brittney," Forever the Sickest Kids continued working on other ideas, and by the end of their first week, they had finished three songs. "The chemistry that we have together is awesome," Turman says. "Whenever we get in a room together with our instruments, ideas just start pouring out."
Within four month, the band had recorded Television Off, Party On and written many of the songs for their full-length debut. Then, Forever the Sickest Kids started playing shows, including a three-week stint on the indie stage of the Warped Tour. "That was the hardest thing we've ever done because a lot of people didn't know who we were and we were constantly having to prove ourselves," Stewart says. "But it was also the most rewarding thing because we were playing to over 1,000 people a day."
As rigorous as Warped was, it paid off. Before Warped, Forever the Sickest Kids averaged 10,000 to 12,000 daily plays on their MySpace page. When they got home, the number jumped from between 15,000 and 22,000. And the band's fanbase continues to grow.
"There's a lot of word of mouth and the songs wound up on other people's profiles, which really helps spread the word," Turman explains. "The Internet has been an amazing tool for us, but there's still nothing like playing in front of a live audience."
So, just what is it about Forever the Sickest Kids that's so irresistible? Beyond the obvious – the sky-high hooks, impressive musicality and sonic diversity – there's a spirit to the songs that's inspiring. Even when the lyrics are cynical and the tone bittersweet, there's a feeling that, beyond the rocky curve, more good times lay ahead.
"Ultimately, when you hear the music, we want it to make you want to dance in your car while you're driving," Stewart says. "We want it to be easy to sing along to but so catchy you don't wanna stop."
No problem there. Television Off, Party On is foot-to-the-floor-rock-with-a-smile, from the disco beats, handclaps and anthemic riffs of "Breakdown" to the jaunty riffs, warbling synths and clattering midsection of "I Don't Know About You, But I Came to Dance." And with a brand new album on the horizon, Forever the Sickest Kids are destined to propel those smiles for miles to come. 2.5 million fans have already spoken. The final tally should be staggering.
Plug In Stereo
PLUG IN STEREO is Portland, OR wunderkind Trevor Dahl. After watching his brother play their father's acoustic guitar, Trevor became inspired to learn the instrument and write his own songs. Shortly after, he was recording songs in his basement, posting them on MySpace, and hitting the road to spread his message. At 16 he toured the U.S. and played shows with Never Shout Never, The Ready Set, Ryan Cabrera, as well as dates on the 2009 Vans Warped Tour.
June 14, 2010 was a big day for six high school/ college students in Vermillion, South Dakota.
June 14, 2011 will be a bigger day.
On the former, they decided to put off the next year of college, giving themselves 365 days to make a career out of rock n' roll.
On the latter, Paradise Fears will release "Yours Truly," their debut full-length album, as one of the most potent and rapidly-growing young pop rock acts in the country.
In July 2010, just months after the majority of the band's high school graduation, they released Make Them Believe EP, produced by Jordan Schmidt (All Time Low, Sing it Loud). In just 8 months, the album has sold several thousand copies nation-wide, and the band's career has taken off. They've completed nation-wide tours with Quietdrive and Floral Terrace across 32 different states, and have shared the stage with acts like Stereo Skyline, The Audition, and You, Me, and Everyone We Know.
Coming from a town of 3,000 year round residents in a state noted for its lack of a music scene, nothing has come easy. But these six kids grew up fast. "It's been an entirely self taught process...with a very steep learning curve. We've had to teach ourselves how to promote, how to book shows, how to tour, how to record, everythingâ€¦but it gives us a very unique approach, because in our area, what we're doing is so unprecedented that we haven't fallen victim the generic, cookie-cutter career path, and instead we've received a tremendous amount of support from our home town." explained lead singer Sam Miller.
Though they may be young, Paradise Fears has several things going for them:
First, an incredibly energetic and engaging live show that can win over even the most uninterested bystander, described by one Battle of the Bands judge as "N'Sync meets a UFC cage match." They were crowned champions of a 65-band, Midwest-wide Battle of the Bands in October, sponsored by Rawkzilla magazine, scoring them $14,000 in endorsements, equipment, and cash. Their performance, described by Paul Pederson (Prince, Steve Miller band), was "absolutely spectacular, one in a million, and completely breath-taking."
Second, an arsenal of infectiously catchy and musically developed rock-pop songs, some of which received airplay on top 40 radio stations throughout the Midwest. David Hooper of Music Business Radio described Make Them Believe as "catchy and remarkably polished, particularly given the age [of the members.]"
Third, an incredibly loyal internet following of all different ages. In just 8 months, their Facebook, Twitter, and social networking profiles have acquired tens of thousands of fans/ followers, and are still rapidly expanding by hundreds daily. "One of the best parts about our style of music has always been that it's not limited - it's the kind of music that someone can appreciate with their 12-year-old sister or their 70-year-old grandmother," said keyboard-player Michael Walker.
Finally, and most importantly, an insatiable drive for success. Paradise Fears is constantly touring or recording, and when they aren't, they're exploring new and creative ways of expanding their fan base. Most recently, the band split into three teams, racing around the country following large tours in a competition to meet the most potential listeners. 50,000 miles, 10,000 demos, and 5,000 CDs later, their "Amazing Race" has created both hundreds of fans and a Paradise Fears buzz in every major market in the United States.
The large-scale release of a full-length album will be a huge step forward in the band's career. Recording time for "Yours Truly" was split between Schmidt and Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount (Mayday Parade, Cartel). It will feature 11 new songs, tremendously evolved in music and lyrics. "It's a new found maturity for us...these songs are real. We wrote songs about people we love, songs about people we hate, songs that tell storiesâ€¦it's an album full of songs we really love," described guitarist Cole Andre.
But why so independent? Says Miller, "That's the way we want to do it, and the dream we've always envisioned. We're financing it, we're writing it, we're releasing it, we're promoting it. It started out as just the six of us, and come good or come bad, we've still always got that. We're committed to being able to make it ourselves."
With 150,000 music video views, 600,000 plays on MySpace, video premier on E! News, a debut show on MTV, Performed at tthe 2010 Official Pre-Party for the VMAs as one of LA's Breakthrough Artists, radio call-ins, and 3 sold-out headlining Roxy shows under their belt in about 6 months, It Boys! are counting down the days until they are household names. The band uniquely boasts three singers, one of whom plays drums, and gives them the power to do live what is usually only possible in the studio. The vast vocal ranges and three part harmonies mixed with a super pop songwriting sense is quickly showing that they have what it takes to breakthrough any specific music scene and into a much wider, radio friendly pop world.
It Boys! was the brainchild of Matt Cut (vocals) who very specifically added Tommy Coops (bass), Judah Leary (guitar/vocals), Duck Leary (drums/vocals) and Jeff Oster (guitar) to the group, making the dream lineup of equal talent and friendship. " We knew from day one, that we wanted to quickly grow out of small venues and playing for friends. The idea from the start, was to go big or go home..I mean..we are called It Boys!" recalls vocalist Matt Cut. They have been strategically locking in other brands such as DCMA clothing, Supra Shoes, Fender, and Orange amps to help further expand their idea of turning It Boys! into an empire.
They are on tour the remainder of 2010 supporting Rookie of the YEar, Runner Runner, and Jeffree Star promoting thier newly released EP entitled "The Dream" and a newly released pop-culture-packed music video that fired up a twitter and blog frenzy due to tweets from friends and supporters like Paris Hilton, Rob Dyrdek, Samantha Ronson, Ryan Sheckler, Benji Madden Holly Madison and many more. Everyone that hears their music or sees them live seem to all agree that they are a force to be reckoned with and a larger than life attitude.