Catch my interview with Sherwood over at Mammoth Press. Vocalist/bassist Nate Henry opens up about the origins of QU, the hardships that come with getting older, the depressing state of music today and the future of Sherwood.
In today’s technological age, it has become increasingly difficult to remember a time when music and the Internet weren’t drastically interwoven. In fact, it is now nearly impossible to break a band based solely on the conventional outlets of a record label and the radio.
“At this point, a lot of bands have figured out that the first step is to be really visible on the Internet,” Sherwood keyboardist Mikey Leibovich told me before last week’s headlining show at Chain Reaction.
However, when you think about it, this new development didn’t start that long ago.
“We were kind of right there at the right time,” lead singer and bassist Nate Henry admitted.
The cheery pop-rock band formed back in 2002 while the founding members were attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, right around the time social networking sites like MySpace were booming and music downloading was skyrocketing. Since then, they have been able to combine their diligent resolve with the Internet’s vast resources to arrive at a recipe for success.
The group, which also includes guitarist/singer Dan Koch, drummer Joe Greenetz and guitarist Dave Provenzano, first garnered exposure on PureVolume, and the positive feedback from the Web site’s listeners led to their first self-booked tour. Around that time, they struck up a relationship with the management behind Long Beach’s SideCho Records, the sister label of The Militia Group, and soon had a one-record deal.
They released their debut full-length album Sing, But Keep Going in mid-2005, and it went on to sell over 20,000 copies. The band spent many months touring in support of the effort, including a stint on the Vans Warped Tour, and saw their status rise as a result. However, once the album ran its course and their contract with SideCho expired, the band’s position was up in the air.
“We were kind of in between a rock and a hard place,” Leibovich explained. “We didn’t really know exactly where the next step to go was.”
In the spring of 2006, Sherwood boldly decided to give away their recently recorded The Summer EP for free on absolutepunk.net. Thirty thousand downloads later, the band had numerous offers from a variety of labels. In the end, they made a surprising move by settling on the newly formed MySpace Records that October.
“We didn’t want to be on a traditional record label,” Henry said. “We figured the best company in the world that can do anything for a band is MySpace. They can work with a thousand companies, let alone they know every band because every band’s on MySpace.”
The band soon headed to San Francisco to record their sophomore album A Different Light with veteran producer Lou Giordano, whose resume included the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate and Taking Back Sunday. When the album was released in March 2007, it sold 4,000 copies during its first week in stores.
In sticking with their DIY attitude, Sherwood spent the remainder of the year on the road, supporting the record with three different tours for Relient K, Motion City Soundtrack and The Academy Is…
Now currently in the midst of their first ever headlining tour, the band is set to head overseas for a run of shows upon its conclusion. Then after a much deserved break, it will be time to gear up for album number three.
“We’re really kind of anxious to get off the road and start actually working on this next record,” Leibovich said, adding that there’s a good chance they might not be touring the States again this year. “We want the next album to start becoming a priority.”
“I think this record’s going to be the most involved record that we’ve ever had,” Henry added. “We’re going to have a lot more time, a lot more money, and we’re all going to have a lot more ideas.”
While there might be a lot riding on the outcome of the group’s next album, they also recognize that sometimes being in a band isn’t always about the music.
“I would like to take the band’s popularity and do something good with it besides music, like start some nonprofit agency or do something that’s more involved with helping people on a basic human need level,” Henry pointed out. “Music’s cool and music’s great, but eventually if that’s all you’re doing it for, I think that you become very shallow.”
In a genre usually known for its lighthearted and carefree habits, that outlook is further proof Sherwood are standing out among their peers.
“I think we’re all pretty tired of this scene we’re in, you know?” Henry confessed. “We’re all like mid 20s, pushing late 20s, and after awhile you’re like, ‘I’m not 19 years [old] anymore.’ You want to challenge yourself… Some things get better with age, and hopefully that’s what happens with us.”
Check out my recent interview with Sherwood over at MammothPress.com. In it, singer/bassist Nate Henry and keyboardist Mikey Leibovich talk about their first headlining tour, success on the internet, their upcoming record and life apart from music.
Fresh off their opening stint for Fall Out Boy during this summer’s Honda Civic Tour, The Academy Is… is now in the midst of the first headlining tour in support of their second album, Santi. Boasting three very good opening bands, all of which were solid live, last Friday night’s stop of the Sleeping With Giants Tour at Anaheim’s House Of Blues is likely to be one of the best shows this fall.
Starting the night off was San Luis Obispo’s own Sherwood, who turned in a 30-minute set of seven delectable pop-rock songs. “Never Ready To Leave” got things going right off the bat, led by the dual vocal exchange of lead singer/bassist Nate Henry and singer/guitarist Dan Koch. For the rest of the time, they drew almost exclusively from their latest release A Different Light (the only old song was “Learn To Sing”), with highlights including “The Best In Me,” “Song In My Head,” and the stirring closer “For The Longest Time,” which showed off Henry’s vocal range. My only complaint was the similarity between this set list and those from their last two tours. It would have been nice to see them switch things up more or better yet receive an extended playing time. Nevertheless, it was another impressive display.
After Sherwood was The Rocket Summer, who stole the show with a 30-minute set simply bursting forth with energy. From the first song “Break It Out,” they had the whole place moving, and it never let up from there. Whether it was oldies “Around The Clock” and “Brat Pack” or new stuff like “Do You Feel” and “So Much Love,” it was all fantastically done, easily turning into the highlight of the evening. Lead singer Bryce Avary is one of the most energetic frontman I’ve seen, constantly moving around and giving his all while never missing a note in the process. Switching off from guitar to piano almost every other song, he showcased his extraordinary musical talents, even playing the drums during one transition. The only disappointment was once again how short the set was. The release of this summer’s Do You Feel and a live show that can’t be missed should ensure it won’t stay that way for much longer.
Armor For Sleep was given the difficult task of following up The Rocket Summer. While they weren’t able to match their effort, they still put together a solid nine-song, 40-minute outing. Kicking things off in high fashion was “The Truth About Heaven,” displaying a harder rock sound than the rest of bands on the bill. They went on to play several favorites off of their last release What To Do When You Are Dead, with obvious standouts being “Remember To Feel Real,” “Stay On The Ground” and “Car Underwater.” The New Jersey outfit also showcased a handful of new tunes off of next month’s Smile For Them, indicating a heavier direction on tracks such as “Williamsburg” and “Smile For The Camera.” Throughout the set, singer/guitarist Ben Jorgensen delivered consistent vocals, and the other band members sounded tight musically. Even though it was the weakest performance of the night, it was by no means a bad one, and proved why they have now achieved major label status.
Closing the night was The Academy Is…, who put on an entertaining show over the course of their 75-minute set. The Chicago quintet started things off in style with “Same Blood” before transitioning to older songs “Attention” and “Slow Down.” This proved to be a trademark of the night as the band split 18 songs evenly between their two albums. All of their best songs were included too, from the old (“The Phrase That Pays,” “Black Mamba,” “Down And Out,”) to the new (“We’ve Got A Big Mess On Our Hands,” “Bulls In Brooklyn,” “Neighbors,” “Seed”). They closed with “Checkmarks,” one of their finest songs to date, before coming out to encore with the b-side “40 Steps” and an impassioned performance of “Almost Here,” which ended things perfectly.
Frontman William Beckett’s rock persona was also on full display the entire night, which was quite amusing. Whether strutting around on stage or posing atop the risers, he demonstrated a remarkable presence, and it seemed he was able to work the crowd into a frenzy with the simple twist of his hand. Despite the antics, he never came across as arrogant or ungrateful, and his vocals were spot on for almost every song. The rest of the band, while not nearly as fun to watch, performed well in his shadow.
It baffles me how The Academy Is… has not received more mainstream attention, especially considering how they are among Fall Out Boy’s inner circle and Beckett can actually sing and perform live (unlike Panic!’s Brendon Urie). With their set, they not only showed off the musical diversity of Santi but played almost everything off of their debut as well, which was more than enough to please both old and new fans alike. Coupled with three other great up-and-coming bands, including an amazing showing from The Rocket Summer, it turned out to be quite the night for music.