Hailing from such a big music city like Nashville, Tennessee, how has the city influenced your work?
Being a progressive rock band has proven to be a challenge in Nashville. It has forced us to really think hard about our live performances and our music. There are many great bands in this town that play roughly if not the exact same style to each other. With that in mind, we came up, through trial and error, with this amalgamation of progressive and alternative rock. We are aware that this is can be a very acquired taste. It makes it difficult to win fans trying to be different but we manage to make progress in this town as well as in other places that we have played. The best thing to do, especially in Nashville, is talk to people about this ‘new thing’ we are doing and play our souls out at shows. This, in turn, makes us better players and performers and inspires us to work out new ideas for people.
That said, there are many other jewels of Nashville that are truly amazing to be aware of. Being a Belmont undergraduate student has opened my eyes to a world of musicians that have expanded my musical vocabulary vastly. These lie not only in rock but also in jazz, classical, hip-hop, and many other genres. The great thing is that this is still all in Nashville and it makes a great working environment between my residence and our main base of operations.
Nashville is known to be a major Country Music capital, you clearly make anything but country, does this make you stand out in that city?
Being a progressive band in Nashville does make us stick out a bit. You can find different styles of rock here that range from alternative to hardcore underground. We genuinely feel that we are the only people in this town that are pursuing this style seriously. For example, we have had a good bit of difficulty in the past finding appropriate bands to gig with us. Many times there will be multiple genres in one show. It allows for an interesting dynamic but at the same time it gets lonely haha. That said, it makes us feel good to think we have this head start.
The name of the band, Lines in the Sky, where does that derive from and who came up with it?
Lines in the Sky was the tentative name given to a jam that Bowman and I played back when he was first picking up the drums and honing his skills during high school. It comes from a conspiracy theory involving something along the lines of public indoctrination via chemicals placed in the exhaust of airplanes by the government. Sort of far-fetched but it was the one I read about the day we wrote the jam haha . I’m really into this sort of stuff. Makes for an interesting read despite its craziness.
When we decided to form a band we picked that as our name. We had gone through several other names which I will not mention. But it has stuck ever since and has been a good fit.
You have been compared to Muse, Circa Survive, Mutemath and The Police. What is it like to be placed in the same sentence as these artists?
All of these bands are personal favorites of mine. The Police and Muse reflect especially when we perform in the three piece format. Great bands to be compared to.
Circa Survive is hands down my all time favorite band. Ever. I know almost every word to every song. Definitely an awesome band to be compared to. Especially after their recent departure from their record label. They haven’t lost any momentum and still write amazing music. Anthony Green is also an amazing tenor. Obviously a huge influence on my vocal melody lines. When people compare us to them it makes me feel simply...great.
Being a trio, you are already placed in a different category than most bands since trios do not seem to be as popular as they once were. Was it clear from the beginning you would always be a three-piece?
Honestly, it is still very unclear that we will be a three-piece. Ever since the beginning we have floated between three and four key members of the band. As of right now it appears that is the way we will portray ourselves. Always and forever it will be Bowman, Zack, and myself as the essential members. The band would simply not be the same without one of us.
That said, I ALWAYS write two guitar parts and synth/piano parts. It is a key aspect of the music. Without this we would be a different band. It is no simple challenge finding other musicians to fill out these roles live. We have had five people on stage at times fulfilling these parts. Technology has allowed for us to compensate a little but there is still no way to reproduce a second guitar with a computer. No exception whatsoever. So the debate now is should we go to strictly three people or still utilize a second guitarist? Either way we still have a blast playing and forget the issue when we hit the stage. We can play with just the three of us comfortably which is an awesome flexibility. Especially when we play at more intimate venues.
Who are some of your influences?
As I stated earlier, Circa Survive and Anthony Green have been a great inspiration for this project. Coheed and Cambria are also another fantastic group that I absolutely adore. Their “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star” record is fantastically written and maintains a certain eerie but romantic mood throughout the entire set that has been with me ever since the first listen.
Aside from these two being big favorites, we also employ techniques from other styles of music. These include (firstly, and very importantly) metal ranging from hardcore to symphonic, various styles of electronic, hip hop, classical music, and many others. I mention metal first because I used to play in metal bands in high school. While I have outgrown much of the genre, I feel that there are certain elements that add to intensity that can be applied to any genre. We make use of sub drops and various styles of riffs that are common to metal. Playing with these tools is very fun. Good crossover audience grabbers too. We like it when a metal head is like “dude that was some fast double pedal” or “dude your sub drops are dank!”
How would you describe the band to someone who has never heard of you before?
Lines in the Sky is an alternative/progressive rock band. We integrate many aspects of other genres to help us up the level of our musicality and performances. For example, instead of playing static chords with repetitive strumming, we like to play moving parts to ‘draw out’ these chords harmonically. This results in a constant motion that makes the music fun to listen to. The music is literally alive and moving.
You released your EP Dig Deeper this year, what was it like making that compilation?
Dig Deeper was a journey from one world to another, and back again! Kind of like Bilbo Baggins haha. It took many months to make sure the music was written exactly the way I wanted it and to figure out what exactly I was talking about in the lyrics.
The recording process was quite interesting. All of the live instruments were recorded to tape here in Nashville. It was an eye opening experience that I will never forget. Due to the nature of the tape and the three days we had in the studio we had to be incredibly well rehearsed. Kudos to Bowman and Zack for totally killing it on the first day.
From there it went to digital mixing and eventually ended up back to analog. The end product has a neat sound that only could have been captured on the tape. We are glad that we didn’t lose that in digital recording land.
John Eden mixed the final project back to analog. He was super friendly and gave great support. He was also super patient with us through all of the computer technical issues we ran into. We owe him for that generosity. haha
Richard Dodd was our mastering engineer. Working with him was incredible and he provided some good insight for our style. John and him compared a lot of their notes over the phone. His took an interest in us and we are grateful for all that he did for us.
Is a full-length in the works?
Of course. We are about to hit the studio again this December and record a boatload of music. We are pulling some songs that predate Dig Deeper as well as some completely new ones. It’s basically going to be amazing. We are also going to do several new versions of older songs. Not sure if these are going to be bonus tracks or just for our archives yet but they’ll find their place.
The writing process is also a blast too. I come up with a root idea and I’ll take it to Bo and Zack and see if they like the direction. We jam on these ideas and see if we are feeling it. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. The guys are great at keeping me in line with this, illustrating why keeping them a part of the process is a valuable step of the journey. Bo comes up with beats patterns I would have never thought of. Zack is also there to remind me of the rock roots (He literally soaks in this stuff. He should be a music history professor. haha) Brainstorming ideas with him is killer. We’ll listen to some old Yes cuts and hear a section that we thought was dope (Yes, I just referred to ‘Yes’ as dope) then try a jam on it. All at three in the morning.
With this inclusive process we are really feeling out these new tracks. We can’t wait to start adding them to the live set. It’s really exciting to think about.
What does it mean to be a new band these days when it seems like a new band emerges every day?
It means we have to be on our game every second we are together. Every time we have a mediocre session someone else is having the best session of their career. We have to stay ‘fresh’. That means coming up with new music as often as we can and playing as much as we can. This past summer has been good for us considering we have played much more than other summers. In turn, we have become more solid with the tracks and feel the confidence that everyone needs to succeed.
Where do Lines in the Sky go from here?
We keep playing and writing as much as we can. We hope that with more shows more people can tap into what we are doing. This style of rock has so much potential and we hope that it will someday bring rock back from the dead. Our dream is to be on the cusp of that revival and with enough hard work maybe that could become a reality. We love what we do. This passion along with the fan support we receive allows for us to further keep pushing ourselves to our highest potential.