Exclusive Q and A: Trace Cyrus Talks Ashland High, Designing Clothes and Collaborating with Miley

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsBeing a sibling to one of the hottest stars on the planet can have its benefits, but Trace Cyrus (aka Ashland High) has had no problem making a name for himself. Miley’s older brother rose to fame in 2006 when his dance-pop band Metro Station was discovered at the top of the charts on MySpace. The group exploded in popularity with the release of their song “Shake It,” and were soon sharing the stage with the likes of Cobra Starship and Fall Out Boy. After the band parted ways in 2010, Trace decided to continue honing his musical skills, and now records and performs solo as Ashland High. We met up with Trace at the Bamboozle Festival to learn more about the new project, his clothing line, and what it’s like to work with his famous family members.

OS: How has your weekend at Bamboozle been?

TC: My weekend has been busy. It feels good to sit down and relax for a second. I’ve been here since Friday. I performed today and I’ve been selling my clothing line and meeting kids. I’ve met thousands of kids, I haven’t met this many in years. It’s great.

OS: You’ve been making music under the name Ashland High for a few years. How did it all begin?

TC: It started a couple years ago after Metro Station. It wasn’t really planned, but we went our separate ways. Basically, we were trying to record the second Metro Station album and it ended up being just me on a lot of tracks by myself, and I was doing a lot of work. It kind of gave me the confidence, since the band went our separate ways, I was like, “Well, I already did five songs by myself in the studio.” They weren’t great, but they weren’t horrible. Two years later, like, a hundred and fifty songs later… The songs I have online, I did that last November and I recorded all of those songs in nine days. But before that, I had over 150 tracks that I did with other producers. It took me a long time to just feel confident with my craft as a solo artist. When you have a band and everyone contributes, it’s a lot different. I’m definitely happy with where I’m at. Hard work pays off when you’re doing it by yourself. I definitely have people helping me, teammates, producers and whatnot, but Ashland High is a solo act. A lot of people think it’s a band, but it’s strictly me.


Exclusive Q and A: The Promise Ring Talk Reunion Shows, Jimmy Eat World and Being Indie Rock Heroes

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsFor fans of the midwest emo/indie rock scene, there are few bands that can compare to The Promise Ring. Hailing from a genre that also included the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Braid and The Get-Up Kids, The Promise Ring rose to indie fame in the late ’90s and released four albums and five EPs in their seven years together. Following the release of their final album, Wood/Water, the band decided to call it quits to pursue individual interests. As members of Dashboard Confessional and Maritime, The Promise Ring continued to create music, but the desire for a reunion was too strong to ignore for long. The band confirmed their reunion at the end of 2011 and will be playing shows around the U.S. in the upcoming months. We met up with drummer Dan Didier at The Bamboozle Festival (where many fans saw the band for the first time in ten years) to hear about the reunion, how the scene has grown, and what fans can expect to see at shows this year.

OS: It’s been ten years since you guys played festival shows. How does it feel to be here at Bamboozle?
DD: This is the first time we’ve ever played Bamboozle. But festivals are interesting. I still obviously prefer smaller clubs and more intimate settings, but what I do like about festivals like this or SXSW, where a lot of people go to them…you cover a lot more ground with people who come. People fly in that wouldn’t necessarily go see you. There’s a bigger array of people so that’s always kind of nice. Definitely playing to new people or total diehards who came from Kansas to see us, so that’s cool. But it’s also kind of a big headache because of how big it is and how crazy it is. The logistics that people don’t really realize and all the things that go on behind the scenes. It’s a headache, but I can’t wait to play.

Frontman Davey von Bohlen rocks out at Bamboozle

OS: Are you surprised to see bands like Jimmy Eat World and Hot Water Music here in 2012?
DD: Jimmy Eat World, no, because they’re good friends of ours and we’ve known those guys forever. When The Promise Ring was a band, we brought them on tour and they opened for us a bunch, and then they blew up and they took us out and we opened for them…it was just a really fun time that we had with them. But the way that they are, it makes total sense that they’re still a band right now. They have that special…I don’t even know what you would call it. It’s like this magic potion of being in a band where they’re all still friends, so they don’t have that animosity that can build up and break up bands…they don’t have that. They have that really successful record that let them do what they want to do and continue to create music, so they can just focus on that. They’re at the total sweet spot of music, which is great to see.
OS: What have you all been doing while The Promise Ring was on a break?
DD: Davey [von Bohlen, vocalist] and I are currently in another band called Maritime, and we’ve been touring and releasing records under that. But we all have jobs and kids and that sort of stuff. I drive a minivan…it’s totally cool. [laughs]

A Look Back at Bamboozle 2012

I arrived at The Bamboozle Festival on Friday evening, just as the sun was setting over the Jersey Shore. I’d never been to Asbury Park before, so I decided to get the lay of the land before I wandered over to see Incubus. The layout of the festival was much different than it’s been the past few years, since it moved a bit farther south from its past location at the Giants’ Stadium parking lot.

I caught the second half of Incubus’ set and continue to be amazed at how tight they are as a live band…they’re as good as their recordings, if not better. One awesome thing about having the festival at Asbury Park is having the Main Stage right on the beach. Watching Incubus play “Wish You Were Here” with my toes in the sand was pretty cool.

It’s always surprising how many more people come to Bamboozle on the second day. By the time I arrived on Saturday afternoon, the beach was packed and people were ready to party. There was a rave on the sand, The All-American Rejects were rockin’ out on the Main Stage and I was headed to the Berkeley Hotel to interview Dan Didier, drummer for The Promise Ring. He had some interesting and insightful things to say about the band’s reunion and upcoming tour. Keep an eye on OurStage Magazine for the full article!

After the interview, I ran over to the Main Stage to catch Jimmy Eat World and My Chemical Romance (original headlining act Blink-182 had to pull out last minute due to a medical emergency, so My Chem filled in). Jimmy Eat World played a full set of classics and singles like “The Middle” and “Bleed American.” They put on a fun and dynamic performance that clearly satisfied their hungry fanbase.

My Chemical Romance has been one of my favorite bands for ten years, so it was a special treat to catch them at Bamboozle and performing in their home state of New Jersey. Playing a great mix of their four albums, the guys were as energetic as ever. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a problem with the live mix, so it was almost impossible to hear them for about half of the set. Even so, the crowd was certainly happy to see them and pleased with the eclectic setlist.


Exclusive Q&A: The Return of The All-American Rejects

OurStage Exclusive Interviews

Whether they’re your favorite band or your guilty pleasure, you probably already know that The All-American Rejects have an undeniable ability to get inside your head. From the pounding beat of “Move Along” to the sing-along chorus of “Gives You Hell,” AAR have proven time and time again that they have what it takes to write catchy and memorable hit songs.

After keeping quiet for the past two years, the Rejects are chomping at the bit to release their fourth album, Kids In the Street, at the end of March. Guitarist Nick Wheeler spoke with us about what it’s like to be back on tour, writing with Tyson Ritter and why he can’t wait for you to hear the new record!

OS: You just kicked off your first headlining tour in over two years. How does it feel to be back on the road?

NW: We did! Late 2009, I believe, was our last headlining show. And it’s a blast! We’re playing some of the longest shows we’ve ever played because we don’t want to get off stage. [laughs] It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve been playing a few new tunes as well. We get out there and it’s like we didn’t have a break to make a new record…it’s just like, second nature. But at the same time, it feels like we haven’t done it in so long. I’ve got a shit-eating grin on my face the whole night.

OS: The band has been pretty quiet for the last few years. What have the four of you been up to during the break from touring?

NW: We kind of like to disappear when we make a new record; it’s not like we’re trying to re-invent ourselves or anything. We’re not a band who tries to capitalize on any past success by shitting out a new record that’s not as good as the previous one and then eventually dying and going away. A lot of our peers have, over the last ten years. We like to go home and come to a screeching halt, and just see where our heads are at, figure out what we want to say and what we want to do. Sometimes it’s an easy transition and sometimes it’s not. On this one, it wasn’t so much, because Tyson [Ritter, lead vocalist] and I had moved to Los Angeles. He kind of got mixed in with [excessive drinking] there. I kind of stayed quiet and stayed to myself and was there when he needed rescuing so we could slow down and write some new music. We spent about a year writing Kids In the Street and then another year recording it. It’s been quite a process. But, even though some of these songs are two years old, nobody’s heard them yet and we can’t fucking wait to get them out there! [laughs]

OS: You co-wrote Kids in the Street with Tyson in remote locations in Maine and Colorado. How does seclusion help you with the writing process?

NW: No distractions, you know? Sometimes there’s not even cell phone service, so that’s even better. [laughs] It sounds a little Deliverance, but it really helps us focus on the task at hand. You have to live, you have to experience things, in order to write…but at the same time, you have to be able to focus and get those thoughts down, whether it be on paper or in a demo. These writing trips really helped us in that way. We went to the Sequoia Grove National Forest, where we wrote “Beekeeper’s Daughter,” our first single. We named it after the bottle of honey in the cabinet…[laughs] We were just weirdos. But a lot of great songs came out of those trips. That same trip, a song called “Bleed Into Your Mind,” which is really a departure for us, musically, that came out of that trip. Like you said, Maine was a great one too. We wrote the title track, “Kids In the Street,” and another tune “Heartbeat Slowing Down,” which I think is the best song on the record. It’s a pretty powerful ballad, but it’s a vibe that we’ve never captured before. The whole song is based around this drum loop that we tweaked and fucked up. We actually had [British pop artist] Mika, who the producer, Greg Wells, had previously worked with, come in and sound like a little British boys choir on it…because he was in a British boys’ choir. [laughs]

OS: The lyrics on the new album speak to the personal growth of the band. Do you feel as though the band has matured musically on this record, as well?

NW: Oh, absolutely. Just the time that we went away, and spent just challenging ourselves…that, along with producer Greg Wells, really pushed us to be more spontaneous and not such perfectionists. In the past, we’ve been very calculated, even to the point where some of the music has been written out by my own hand [laughs].

This time, it was a much more rock ‘n’ roll approach. Every day, we looked forward to going into the studio and just seeing what would happen. There were times where there wasn’t a guitar solo written and I went in there and made everybody leave the room because I can’t fucking do that with people breathing down my neck [laughs]. And I just did a couple of different things and I’d be like, “Alright, that one’s cool, now let me try to get it right.” And they were like, “No, it’s perfect. There’s a mistake in it, but it’s beautiful in it’s imperfections.” So I’d be like, “Alright, cool! Moving on!” [laughs] We never try to reinvent ourselves or be something that we’re not. We just try to do something different, something that inspires us and something that excites us, creatively. And then we try to figure out how to play it on the road. This one’s been a challenge, but we actually figured out how to play the entire record live, which we’ve never done before. Everybody’s playing a bit of keyboards, everybody’s singing a lot, but it’s a lot of fun.


Bamboozle 2012: Back to the Beach

For the past six years, fans of all musical genres have flocked to the Bamboozle Festival at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. They endured the rain, the blistering heat, the outrageous food prices and the  pain of standing for hours on end, but”at the end of the third day”they left the stadium parking lot with ears ringing and faces grinning.

Before East Rutherford, however, Bamboozle was located in Asbury Park, New Jersey and was known as the Skate & Surf Festival. Similar to the Vans Warped Tour, Skate & Surf was a twelve-hour event featuring over forty bands. The indoor festival featured such prominent “scene” bands as Allister, The Movielife and From Autumn to Ashes. In the years that followed, the newly-named Bamboozle Festival grew larger and larger, featuring performances from some of the biggest acts in pop, rock and rap.

This year, Bamboozle creator John D’Esposito is on a mission to bring back the intimate feel of Skate & Surf, while also booking high-profile performers from all genres. Headliners like Bon Jovi, Blink-182, Foo Fighters, Skrillex, Incubus and Mac Miller appeal to a wide audience, while smaller “niche” bands like the recently-reunited The Receiving End of Sirens, The Wonder Years and Like Moths to Flames will certainly draw their own crowds. In celebration of the festival’s tenth anniversary, D’Esposito even moved Bamboozle back to Asbury Park, where concert-goers can enjoy scenic ocean views instead of a crowded parking lot. And what would a party on the Jersey Shore be without a performance from DJ Pauly D?

What else is different for 2012? Here are a few of Bamboozle’s biggest changes:

  • Get your rice ready: The Rocky Horror Picture Show…starring Bamboozle performers? Needless to say, it will be hilarious.
  • No more tickets: The Bamboozle will use electronic wristbands instead of paper tickets. The wristbands will help staff to keep track of the crowds and eliminates the need for attendees to bring cash.
  • Higher admission prices: Moving the festival to Asbury Park was not cheap. Neither was bringing on some of the biggest names in popular music today. Accordingly, admission prices are significantly higher this year (three-day passes are $81 more than last year), but the increase will still probably be worth every penny.
  • Linc’s Very Special Guest: “Linc’s Special Guest” is a performer that shows up for a surprise set during Bamboozle. Past performers have included everyone from Jack’s Mannequin to Journey. But this year, Linc’s guest is “Very Special,” and is a Sunday night headliner. Rumors have been swirling for weeks, with the most popular guesses being Bruce Springsteen and Nicki Minaj.

Bamboozle 2012 will be held May 18-20 in Asbury Park’s North Beach area. More wristband purchases and more information, check out their official Web site.

Never been to Bamboozle? This trailer from the 2011 Bamboozle Documentary gives you a taste of what this epic weekend is like. You can watch the full documentary here.