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THE SKY ABOVE AND EARTH BELOW interview

If you’re ever-hungry for good post hardcore / screamo, then this Portalnd-based three-piece should deliver you a solid dose of chaotic, nostalgic  music close to your heart. I thought it deserves your listen and a closer look, which I can give you, of course, through an interview. Ladies and Gentlemen, here’s THE SKY ABOVE AND EARTH BELOW.

Roger Portland, this is Warsaw [smiles]. What’s up guys? How’s winter treating you guys this year?

Reid:

Winter is always a very interesting time in Portland, people normally just stay in their houses the whole time but we’ve been holding up surprisingly well this year. It’s been a moderate winter in Portland which we have all been enjoying. We’ve been wrapping up recording our first album with Adam Becker of Autistic Youth at Red Lantern Studios which we are really stoked on. One of the songs is online with a video now (watch it above). We’ve been playing shows around town and writing new music and preparing for the record to come out. Two of us are in school and we all work so we do what we can around that.

Cool. How long has it been since you guys formed? How did you put this crew together?

Reid:

So TSAAEB used to be the solo project of the guy who plays guitar, Miller. While he was in his old band, A GHOST’S FACE TWO INCHES FROM YOUR OWN FACE, Miller wrote and recorded “A Quests Timescape”. I think that EP came out in like 2010?

A little over a year ago Miller and our drummer, Sam, started playing songs together as a two piece. I have known both Miller and Sam for a while and when I saw them playing I couldn’t help trying to get involved. For the last year we have been working on writing and playing shows. We love going to Washington to see the homies in Seattle and Bellingham.

Miller:

I recorded Quest’s Timescape in late 2009 with the help of a friend and a lot of borrowed gear. I don’t know that I was planning to do much more than a demo at the time, but I did want it to remain a solo project. In 2011 I was in a band with Sam called GRANDFATHER and after that I decided I wanted Sam to be in every band would ever be in. He agreed at least for the time being to play some newer songs I had written for TSAAEB with me so that I could play shows. It worked out pretty well as a two piece, but it got tiresome fairly quickly to write songs that would make sense (to me at least) tonally with only a guitar carrying the melody and chord progression. Reid was enthusiastic about joining the band on bass and he turned out to fit perfectly for us, and he happens to be really good with booking, designing, and talking to the internet for us. We’ve been a three piece since early 2012.

How many songs have you written together as a three-piece?

Most of the songs for the full length, “Parting Ways” were written by Miller. Parts of them we worked out together but he had a general idea of how the whole first album was going to work before we even started playing together. We have written some interludes together and have one new song that isn’t on the album done right now. We are really excited to be done with recording so that we can start hammering stuff out all together.

For how long have you been preparing for this release?

We’ve been working on the album as a three piece over the last year. Miller started writing some of the riffs for songs by himself in 2010 but we put everything together over the last year or so.

Friends For Life Records, a small independent record label and distro run out of a bedroom in Portland, OR. How did you end up in its roster?

Friends For Life is a project that I (Reid) have been working for a little bit over two years. Kyle from Duck. Little Brother, Duck! helps me out with a lot of the logistical stuff, and Tony West and Clara Ridabock help me out with all of the video and photo stuff. We’ve been working on filming and editing more live shows, and making music videos for bands around town. I have been putting out tapes and zines and records for friends mainly in Portland but also a few from around the country as well. Since joining TSAAEB it seemed perfect to help release the first record through FFL. Miller and Sam have been supportive of me and FFL in the past and working together on this record has been amazing.

What other releases do you have in works as of late?

Right now THE SKY ABOVE AND EARTH BELOW record is the biggest project. I’m working on a photo zine with Clara Ridabock that is going to be coming out through the FFL store in the coming month or so. There are a couple of tapes that may or may not be happening. There is also another 7″ that I am working on that I can’t really talk about right now but information will be coming out about it in a month or so. For the last two years FFL has mainly done tapes, and we’re really pushing to start doing more records this year.

Tell me more about those zines. Gimme some names. Which prints are still available?

Currently the Friends For Life online store is a bit lacking. There are a lot of one off prints and zines that I bring to shows with me but it’s not really cataloged online. (We’re working on it). In the past we have done stuff with Emma Bagley a lot. She is an amazing artist who has done a lot of work for DUCK. LITTLE BROTHER, DUCK! and other people as well. Clara Ridabock does a lot of photo stuff with us and helps with filming shows as well. Her incredible work is up at this location. There are a lot of awesome zines in the distro as well. Kyeo Speaks is a zine/label based out of California that is FUCKING amazing. Mark writes the coolest shit. Plus, all of his zines are free! I send them out with almost every order that comes through the FFL store. I just got a bunch of stuff from A Love Token which is also based in California. These guys are constantly putting out awesome photo books and I am more that excited to have them in the box. ALT is online at this location. The stuff that is available is changing constantly, but we’re working to bring more stuff to the online store soon.

Wow, thanks a lot!

I’m curious about your recent post asking “who wants to come do guest vocals and have a bunch of fun with us in the studio?”. Tell me more about the idea.

We have a lot of friends that play in bands as well, and there were some parts that we weren’t sure what to do for the vocals so we decided to invite other people to be a part of it. A lot of people showed up and a lot of people flaked out but a handful of our friends did some guest spots on the record and we are really happy with it.

Sam:

The raddest part is that everyone who ended up showing up were the people who have been the most consistently supportive of THE SKY ABOVE since we started. For me at least, it really meant a lot that they were all so stoked to be a part of the record, and getting to record with members of some of our favorite local bands – CARRION SPRING especially – was fucking awesome.

Oh yeah, and you have a few tracks left, right? Any chance for a split sometime soon? What does a screamo band mean without a good split release? [laughs]

Our plan right now is to finish the record and then start working on a split. Ideally we will figure one out for fall or winter 2013.

Is the other band already hooked up? Oh, maybe we’re talking a 4-way split here, huh? Can you tease it a bit?

Currently we have no plans pertaining to another band to do a split with. There are bands we would like to do a split with. But no concrete plans.

Alright, boys. I’m curious about the thing you recently noticed, that “there are not many other places to book all ages, DIY shows in the city right now.” The “ALL AGES” term sounds so strange for a European hardcore kid, you know? I mean, there is literally no problem with attending hardcore punk gigs. I mean, only bigger concerts get the restrain. There is no threat for young kids to be excluded from cultural events at local venues because of their age. How does it look like where you live? What’s your opinion on that?

In Oregon all bars are 21 and over. There’s no getting around it. Currently the main place that throws DIY shows is Laughing Horse Books. Laughing Horse has been around for a long fucking time and it’s really cool that it is still doing shows. Other than that though we are able to throw house shows every now and then at different places, but the all ages venue situation in Portland right now is not very good. There is this bar though that figured out how to have the area where the music is separate from the bar so they are able to have underage kids in there. We try to throw most of the shows at all ages spots but a lot of times good shows end up getting booked at bars.

Do you (as the local scene) get into trouble with the police? Do you believe in such stories?

No one really gets in trouble with the police for having shows. The worst thing that can happen is that the house/venue gets slapped with a fine and which normally sets them back pretty far. I saw that stuff about the Boston Police pretending to be punks to bust shows, seems pretty sketchy. Most of the time we don’t really deal with any shit like that from the police.

What’s your view on the 21 age law and its impact on shows?

It definitely sucks that people are prevented from going to shows based on their age, but it doesn’t affect the DIY scene as much as it does for larger touring bands. It seems like most bands that come through Portland that want to play an all ages show do everything they can to make sure that it happens. People are pretty supportive of all ages music even though there aren’t necessarily that many venues to house it.

Alright, guys. So what are YOUR touring plans for the coming months?

We are currently in the process of booking a west coast tour for late June into July. We’re still not completely sure of all of the logistics, but are really just trying to get out there ASAP. Ideally we would like to go on tour with a band on the east coast this winter but that might not be realistic. Next weekend we are going up to Bellingham, Washington, to play with an all ages DIY fest called Yellingham. We were able to play last year so we are super stoked to be up there again for the weekend and get to play a bunch of awesome bands.

Sam:

Yeah, Yellingham is one of the best all-ages DIY festivals in the region for sure. It’s always really fucking fun, and every one there has always been super supportive and enthusiastic.

Was a weekender, too? Or a longer trek?

Yellingham last year? Yeah, it’s just a three day thing that happens, this will be its fourth year.

What other bands are appearing?

Of the top of my head: DUCK. LITTLE BROTHER, DUCK!, CARRION SPRING, SLOTHS, COWER, YOUR RIVAL, ITALICS, EARTH CONTROL, THE EXQUISITES, WILD MOTH, WALTER AND PERRY, LEE COREY OSWALD.

Alright, thanks so much for your time, guys! Anything you’d like to add before we wrap this up?

Miller:

Make sure to spread the fucking love.

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