State your reason for choosing music as a career.
I chose music as a career because there is no possible way I could do anything else. I got the bug for performing very young. I have never been scared of it; I have always been very good at it. To not do it seems as illogical and unhealthy as choosing not to breathe, sleep, or eat Chick-Fil-A (my favorite;). I love the look on a person’s face when they understand the emotion I am conveying from the stage. I love the power of controlling the energy and mood of a room. I love telling a story and inviting my audience into it. And I think to add value to people’s lives, by whatever means one has the ability to do so, is a moral responsibility- and my method is music, so I must create the highest volume of the best possible music as I can with my life.
Tell us how you write the lyrics to your song.
I thrive on story-telling. I love to build the room (or field, or dessert, or taxi cab) in which the song takes place. How the environment smells, the shape of the tattoo on the bartender’s left arm, the scratchiness of the scarf during the cold, rainy walk home or the bite of the vodka under a single naked light bulb in the upstairs apartment kitchen at 12:03 a.m. after a hard conversation with your mother-in-law. Many of my songs (and consequently many AIRSIDE songs) use this sort of story-based songwriting. I’ll either begin with a chorus, if that was the melodic bit that came to me first, or start at the top and work my way through the song sequentially, starting with the first verse. Then I’ll use the chorus as an “explanation” for the events which transpired in the verse, or if there were not events per se, but more of overall forward-moving emotions, I’ll try to sum up the theme by use of the chorus. The bridge is usually the last bit that I write, with which I try to view the song, now written almost completely, from another perspective, before returning to the chorus one last time (basically, pop-form songwriting). I divert from this sometimes, but this is how I write lyrics generally.
Share your press release and reviews with us.
This is a handful of quotes we procured during a marketing campaign preceding the release of one of our first singles, “Fast Life”:
“Totally see this on the radio this summer.” – Going Solo
“Reminds me of Maroon 5.” – Obscure Sound
“It has a commercial appeal and is sugary sweet.” -Crack in the Road
“This track has an easy, summery feel.” – Ear to the Ground Music
“Reminds me of The 1975, very catchy!” – Abduction Radiation
“This hook is centre-pop.” – Future Classics
Tell us about your life outside the music world.
I am first a husband to my awesome, gracious wife Marci. She is my best friend in whom I can throw my whole world and still know she will hold it all and see it all and love me all the same. We enjoy leading worship together at our church in Memphis. That said (spoiler), I’m Christian, and I’d like to think that fact pervades the majority of my actions. I think that if people live an others-focused life and serve people well they will not only make the world a more beautiful place but that they will make their life a more fulfilling story. I have two cats that are very different. Sophie is old and fluffy and adorable (although she suffers from RBF), and Sawyer is young and spry and thin and can move at the speed of light. Sawyer loves to antagonize his older sister (Adopted? Roommate? Not sure how they view their relationship).
Brief us about your music career.
Music began before I can remember, so I’m aided by VHS tapes of me singing “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know” into a consumer-grade karaoke system in the mid-1990s, which is about the time I started doing the thing I still so insistently claim I should be able to do for my career. Singing has always been the starting point. I began playing drums in church, which I’m sure I nagged about until my dad, the music minister, let me give it a shot. My rhythm has always been keen and so guitar, bass, and piano were easy additions in the following years, especially within the competitive environment of home-school families and Christian boys with too much time on their hands. This was the catalyst for what united my passion for music and the written word–songwriting. I began writing songs as soon as I knew three chords on the guitar, and haven’t stopped since. Joining the choir in high school and singing for acapella group (sometimes as the beatboxer), I went on to study classical vocal performance at a conservative Christian college in Chicago before deciding I wanted to pursue a music career that was more mainstream, which led me to Visible Music College in Memphis, TN. I received a bachelor’s degree in Modern Music Ministry, Songwriting Emphasis, which honestly hasn’t done much for me apart from the wealth of experience and the relationships yielded. By that, I mean that no one has looked at me with suspicion as to whether I could play the gig, or write the song, or teach their kid until I said “Don’t WORRY I have this fancy diploma.” I’ve found that’s kind of the thing, who you know and what you’ve done and how good you are at keeping friends.
Since graduation, I’ve played some regular restaurant gigs solo with my loop station, and with my band at some of the louder bars, and taught lessons in between writing and recording, and touring. We’ve gotten the chance to travel to Europe twice, and have had some amazing experiences around the states as well. I’m turning my attention to some of the things now that I wish I took more seriously as a younger musician. Things like consistent video content output, more intentional fan engagement, and higher volume of song releases. So my career has been kind of a slow burn, and I’m looking to up the intensity in the coming year.
Elaborate on how you came about your artist’s name.
Our artist’s name came from “Webster’s List of New Words for 1979.” We were huddled in the library of a hundred-year-old Baptist church library, sunken deep into plush couches and chairs likely of the same vintage as that old book, scanning pages for a single word (we didn’t want something compound) that could be used as a good handle for us and our brand. Something easy enough for fans and media to carry around. Also something kind of neutral. And it popped out; clearly not long after we opened to page one. We hadn’t even gotten to the B’s. We sat on the name “Airside” for a few weeks before finally settling on it and chose it and took some new photos and updated the name of our Facebook page and that was that. Previously, and from the beginning of the band, we were called “The Passport,” which I thought was pretty sporty and cool, but turns out a few other bands thought the same thing and could have sued us if we made any sort of headway, which we hoped and planned to do. An entertainment lawyer who was a friend of our manager advised us to make the change, so we thought the best of it and went with Airside. What’s kind of fun is that there is some carry-over, as both names have a connotation of traveling, of the next destination. Airside, as an aeronautical term, refers to the space in an airport into which travelers have passed after clearing all security checkpoints, but before leaving on their flight. It’s the place with all the cool over-priced bars and duty-free shops that pre-9/11 people like Ross Geller could hang out and wait for their friends (or ex-lovers) at the gate, which is now reserved for ticket holders only. That middle place is kind of where we’re at as a band. We’re definitely committed to going somewhere, and we know exactly where that place is. We know what it looks like, how much it costs to get there, but we’re not there yet. We’re on a journey.
List your five favorite music videos with reasons.
Ben Howard, “Old Pine.” This is the video that taught me to love music videos as film. That a music video should be craft, not an afterthought by which recorded songs are made more consumable. The beautiful shots of ocean and cliffs and camping and swaying tall grass at magic hour make me want to go to the beach on a chilly evening and stare in silence at the fire from my sleeping bag with my three closest mates.
Maximo Park, “Apply Some Pressure.” I remember when I first saw this music video in the Journeys store in the mall in my small town of Normal, Illinois in eighth grade circa 2008. This video taught me that bending the rules of physical reality can be really entertaining in a video, such as in this one when the members’ heads and instruments, and appendages emerge from dresser drawers during the opening shots. The unrefined post-rock-inspired vibes were addictive and matched the dark theme shots jammed together for the video. I think I bought my first pair of Etnies skate shoes during that visit. I don’t skateboard anymore because you know my wrists are more useful to me than before. But those were great times, and this video is a little time capsule for me.
Switchfoot, “Stars.” Saw this one in the mall too. Anyone who discounts music video placements in your local clothing and shoe stores let me tell you those are dollars well-spent. I was in the mall some years later, shopping with my dad for a red sweater for the Christmas Eve service at church later that week, and Jon Foreman starts floating zero-gravity, and all the raindrops with him, as Chad and Tim and Jerome, along with their at-the-time brand-new fifth member Drew on electric, all singing and playing along in slow-motion, stadium lighting as if underwater in an outer space swimming pool. I just grew up loving those guys, as a church kid who also had aspirations for rock and roll but wanted a purpose to it; they were the pinnacle in my mind, and stopping to watch that whole video in the American Eagle store (don’t judge, we all have style phases- that one just lasted way too long) was a memorable experience.
Bad Suns, “Cardiac Arrest.” First of all, those guys are just badass. Don’t know how else to say it, and the video is no less. The selective use of color throughout the video and stone-faced execution of the parts, many of which are pretty involved but well-executed by lead-singer/lead electric player Christo Bowman, is nothing short of impressive. The way those guys have a knack for looking coolly disinterested is the envy of all who claim rock-n’-roll.
Darlingside, “The Ancestor.” This is the only animated video I’ve listed. Not because I don’t like animation; I just think it’s freaking hard to do in a cool way, and bands like to see their faces and instruments show up in their videos most times. Plus to have the loyalty of a great animator for more than one video is probably a challenge in itself. But this acoustic/folksy band of singer-songwriting harmony wizards have created such a moving song. It’s one that moves you to tears for which you’ve forgotten the cause, like a dream in which someone important died but you couldn’t say who. That’s the feeling one gets from this video, whose playful style possesses such a nice juxtaposition to its heavy theme–the brevity of life–and allows the listener-viewer to shed a tear while smiling wide all at the same time.
Tell us your source of inspiration.
Lately, sadness and those without a societal voice. I recently released under my solo project a song entitled “17 (Dear Mr. Gunman)”, which grapples with the challenge of loving others well, and its potential long-term effects. I pose the question to listeners; or rather the speaking character poses the question to himself, “What if I had loved you well?” to the gunman responsible for a mass public shooting. It’s not always so dark though, my source of inspiration. Sometimes it’s missing my wife Marci, who, my then-girlfriend inspired a song I wrote years ago entitled “I’m With You” which appeared on our very first record as “The Passport”, and which we have also re-recorded for our upcoming EP. “Tell me about it, I’m with you even though you’re miles away.” It can come off as a little naive–but maybe romantic love, with all of its impossible promises and optimism, is a little naive. I think my main source of inspiration though is the theater in my head. I want so badly for others to see the scenes I do when I think of a song. Soundscapes create a sense of space; lyrics live within that space and give it meaning. I want my listeners to walk away with a sense that they had a short stay inside a very specific kind of space and left it carrying some meaning. That takeaway for my listeners–predicting it and causing it–is my inspiration.
Tell us your impression of dealing with paparazzi.
I deal with people as people, as much as possible. Those whose job it is to dredge up stories from seaming chaos are doing only what humanity has compulsively and tirelessly done for all time. They just do it in such a pestilential, overbearing way. At least, in the movies and on television and in my mind. I’ve never been bothered by paparazzi. I guess we haven’t achieved that level of success that attracts them like buzzards to a three-day-old dear carcass on the side of a Wisconsin road, but I’m not complaining.
Elaborate on the A-Z process of this song.
This song began entirely with me. It was a Friday morning. I had plans to go and do something that made more immediate money. For me, that involves composing some music to children’s nursery rhymes, which is quick money that comes around from time to time derived from a connection I have to some Indian YouTube channels via a close producer friend, or a video editing job, or some other soul-numbing task which resembles music and/or artistic creation just enough to be better than working in foodservice. But that particular morning, I said hang it all, I’m writing this idea because I can’t get this melody out of my head. It was the main hook melody for the chorus which appears in the very first lyrics to that section, and would later become the namesake of the song. “Cheap Talk,” the lyrics came like a text message from God or aliens or that shrink you wish you could afford, which is how a lot of lyrics feel on their arrival. I rushed down the very short hallway from our bedroom to my densely-packed demo studio and opened up a session in Logic Pro X. My wife having headed off to work, I began on the chorus lyrics. These came quickly. Sometimes this is not the case, but that day the faucet flowed. Next came the first verse. I knew from the outset I wanted the production dynamics to come way down. The percussion would be almost completely absent. I wanted here to build the room. The imagery of the girl in my mind, that one who represented the relationships that were so close to “just right” but not quite. The ones that weren’t connecting. I try to use imagery like the pointed lens of a camera, and lead the mind’s eye of the listener to rest upon certain subjects and then continue. I drew it to focus on her chipped nail polish. And she’s tapping. Not nervously, but apathetically. Saying the same thing she did last time. Then I saw the withering cactus from my hometown coffee shop which I frequented so often during my high school years in Port Washington, Wisconsin. I kept the focus of the lyrical lens tight on that cactus for a moment because the main character doesn’t want to face the fact that this relationship is failing. He wants suspended animation. He wants to dance with a skeleton in slow motion, to never admit it was dead from the start. Okay so maybe that’s a little dramatic, but these are some thoughts that go through my head when putting down lyrics. Musically, the next step for me was the chord progression for the chorus. The verse came as the lyrics did, and a simple 4-5sus progression took me through there, changing in dynamics and lyrical density to keep it fresh. But the chorus was a little more intricate. I toyed around with a few different progressions until I finally landed on Frankenstein-ing them together in an unpredictable, yet pop-form fashion, which I was quite pleased with. I tracked a bass part over the midi drums I had quickly filled in and then proceeded to match the kick drum pattern to the bass part and add some more specific fills. Next, I grabbed my electric and pedalboard, plugging directly into my two-channel interface and throwing some three-note chords over the chorus progression I had tracked on midi chorus-drenched piano. After all this, I took a break from the music and jumped back into lyric land for the second verse. “Is she marriage material?” my parents’ voices echoed in my mind. That verse came quickly as well. The bridge came on a drive to the grocery store several weeks back, later to find its way into that song like a stray to the pound and then into the loving home of a lesbian couple who welcomed that pup with open arms. So the song was done, and honestly, I thought it would just make a good indie-pop demo to submit to movies and TV shows later down the road. But, I so enjoyed playing the song on keys and singing to it that the thought inevitable emerged; it would be a good fit for the band. After sending the demo around to my bandmates, they concurred. Our guitar player loaded into our friend Kirk Teachout’s studio and laid down some wicked 80’s tone guitar in place of the feeble, somewhat muddy demo tracks I’d recorded, and our drummer followed suit with tasteful and calculated fills and high-hat openings that really made the song. We were in transition between bass players at the time, so the bass part I had recorded at home made it onto the final recording. From there it was all production shininess, with a number of arpeggiated synthesizers, pads, and cutting leads to fattening it up along with Roland 909 drum pad/acoustic drum sample hybrids for the tom sounds. Kirk put in the extra man-hours to bounce the final mix, shuffle out across the then-ice-covered downtown Memphis sidewalk to his Malibu where he and I spent several cold 4-minute sessions car-testing the track only to realize the bass was too muddy, or the vocals were too soft in the chorus, or the guitar solo wasn’t sitting right. Whatever the case was, by a miraculous sequence of events (it always feels almost divine when a record actually makes it to finished) we had a final mix, and not long after, a final master, along with some bangin’ artwork created by Kirk and his Indonesian anime-drawing friend. So that’s why you want to be in a band–so that your kind-of-cool demo can spread its wings and become a radical indie-pop monarch that lives on Spotify and iTunes instead of your dusty old external hard drive.
Tell us what you have on the way for your fans.
We have big things coming up. “Cheap Talk” is a small part of it. You might say exactly one-eighth of it.
Beyond that, we have some more chilled-out acoustic videos coming your way, along with an opposite-end-of-the-spectrum, turn-it-up-to-eleven rock show brewing in the background. Our boy-wonder Holden not only rocks a mean electric guitar, but can program the mess out of a light show, and we’re ready to give y’all a live experience that’s borderline extra, in the best way possible. 🙂
List the names of those that have supported you so far.
We haven’t done a whole lot of support tours; mostly solo headlining through pockets of fan base. But we have opened for Moon Taxi, and The Spill Canvas, and have shared the stage with a variety of beloved Memphis-based acts including Star and Micey and The Band CAMINO.
Tell us your opinion on the use of auto-tune.
Tuning is not the same as auto-tune. Auto-tune is that effect so famously employed throughout the rap genre which fits a sung melody squarely into pitches selected from a major scale of the producer’s choosing. Vocal tuning is another tool entirely. Auto-tune, in its correct usage, is a very overt effect used to create a stylistic impression, while vocal tuning, if done correctly, is much more subtle. I believe strongly in vocal tuning. And I believe it’s to that term which this question makes reference. The ability that we have in this modern age of in-the-box production to shape and change pitches in the pursuit of taking an already-compelling vocal performance to an even higher level of tonal quality is amazing to me. Note that I said if it is done well. If the untrained ear is able to notice that the producer/mixer has tuned the vocal, she’s done her job wrong. But if she’s artfully and carefully taken the edge off of a sharp note here helped a high note get to the center of a pitch there; such that the audience can better enjoy the vocal performance on the record, she’s achieved a great victory. And this is coming from if I do say myself, a pretty tone-centric singer. I don’t like missing notes. Because of this, I don’t do it very often. But when the studio vocal take has exactly the right energy but the rhythm is ever-so-slightly rushed, or the pitch just didn’t stay on target for quite the length of the note, vocal tuning/editing can swoop in and save the day.
Tell us your opinion on quality and quantity in terms of releasing songs.
Right now, I believe the answer is both-and. Audiences have evolved to expect singles and EP’s rather than full-length albums, and in higher doses than before. I believe the one-year; the one-album cycle of years past has come and gone. The day of the artist-producer-engineer is upon us. Our number one job as artists is to produce content, which for us is music, whether it is adapted to video format or otherwise, and to make it as good as we can as fast as we can and in as high of quantities as possible. To this end, we have to strive, whether it is by outsourcing to more specialized professionals like producers, engineers, and videographers, or by doing things in-house. Each has its sacrifice; I will not be able to drop $2000 on a cinematic music video every time I drop a single. Likewise, uploading a sub-par “acoustic video” shot on your girlfriend’s iPhone with poor audio might not be the best delivery of content to my fans, even if I can crank those out like McDonald’s hotcakes. It’s a balance.
Tell us your opinion on comparing a music career to a non-music career.
It’s apples and oranges, in most cases. The only similar career I can think of is a professional gambler. He scrapes up some money, brings it down the boardwalk to the casino (who gambles in Atlantic City anymore btw), buys as many chips as he can get his shrewd hands-on, and puts his heart and his life and his kids’ college tuition on the red velvet hoping he’ll get it all back and then some. Someone with a day job with benefits in a steady rise-through-the-ranks system will never understand that. They are not better, or less than us for this. It’s just a different way of life. But it’s one that we have to do. We are almost clinically addicted to the rush. The bad odds. We’re insatiably, almost arrogantly optimistic that we can beat them. We have to be. Because we will beat them.
Tell us your opinion on categorizing music into genres and sub-genres.
I’m not so concerned. Make your music, and then call it what people want you to call it so that the people who will love it can find it. At the end of the day, it is about getting it to those people anyway, so don’t get caught up in finding the perfect sub-genre that exactly describes your sound.
State the genre you hate most with reason.
I hate no genres. I’m just less familiar with some. I never grew up on metal. The way those dudes thrash around in the pit while there is a metal band on stage is beyond me. But I can’t say I don’t enjoy watching it from a safe distance. I also want to state for the record that I don’t hate country. That would be, I’m sure, the perfectly cliché right answer to this question. But those country folks are lyrical geniuses, and some of the best hooks I’ve ever heard in my life were found in country songs. So even if I can’t play lap steel or a fiddle or the intro lick to Sweet Home Alabama and I didn’t grow up squeezing milk from a cow’s teat, I can appreciate that funny little (gigantic) subculture that’s so uniquely ‘Merican. But don’t get me started on rap music – YOU KIDS TURN THAT DOWN YOU’RE SHAKING THE CHINA CABINET.
List your five favorite movies with reasons.
There are too many great movies in the world, so I’m going to list only my favorites that include Russel Crowe.
Master and Commander. I used to watch that movie religiously with my dad around Christmas time when I came home from college for the holidays. Something strangely bonding in the cinematic observation of naval warfare and our own inevitable sub-par replication of 1800’s English accents.
Cinderella Man. Who doesn’t love a good underdog movie? Or a great historical-snapshot movie? Or a movie with great New York accents in it? These can all be found in any of your favorite boxing movies, and this one is a fave among faves.
Les Miserables. Have you ever noticed that this is not italicized? I just want to take a moment to give props to Rusty for singing live on-camera in his punk rock, gritty way with reckless abandon and without apology. You’re never going to be Hugh Jackman, Russ. None of us are. You’re singing for all of us. You go man.
A Beautiful Mind. Geez. It’s no wonder that two films which also include a major role by Paul Bettany have made my list. He and Russel just have killer chemistry. And what a twist SPOILER NONE OF THEM ARE REAL.
Gladiator. “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” Mic drop. (Sword drop?).
State the links to your stores and website.
State the title of the song and the meaning.
The title “Cheap Talk” is derived from the hook line in the chorus, and describes the surface-level conversation which two individuals perpetuate in order to procrastinate a tough recognition of the fact that they don’t see eye to eye.