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The Hot Sweat
The Bigger Lights
The Bigger Lights
By Stacie Sullivan-- Staff writer, East

The Bigger Lights are a band that have been on a steady rise for a couple years now.  Quickly gaining attention from labels and management,  they’ve put out two EP’s and recently, their first Self Titled full length.  They’ve been on tour for over a month now with This Providence, The Audition, and Anarbor and will be touring with Cute Is What We Aim For, The Friday Night Boys and Down With Webster in May and June.  The Bigger Lights are definitely a band to look out for in the near future.

SS: To Start off introduce yourself and give an interesting fact about yourself...
JK: My name is JK and I play guitar and piano in the band. I’m a tourist.
CM:  I’m Chris McPeters,  I play the guitar and I also play saxophone. I was a drum major in High School, I’m from Louisiana, and I love Craw Fish.
JK: Yeah that’s nice

SS: When The Bigger Lights First started out, you seemed to gain a solid fan base pretty quickly.  How did you guys go about doing that?
JK:  I don’t really know honestly. I’d like to think as one of the original members, that kids identified with the way we were writing and on the basis of song writing. That’s what we want to use to continue to  really grow.  This band isn’t about gimmicks or about weird novelty or anything.  This band kind of roots itself and roots its growth and fan connection on song writing and music on what people can take away from.  I’d like to think that’s why it grew.  It might just be because Topher’s really cute, I don’t know.
CM: That’s probably why, let’s be honest.  It’s because Topher is really attractive, but I don’t know maybe it’s the songs plus Topher being super, super cute.
JK: Beats me.  We’re just thankful that it has grown, we don’t care how or why, just thank you for growing.

SS:  How have you guys changed as a band musically and personally since then?
JK:  Well Chris is in our band now.  That’s a big thing.
CM: Yeah I’ve only been here since last June.  Almost a year.
JK:  Ryan is also a new member.  When we started off it was Dan the bassist, Topher the singer, and myself were the founding members and we had two other guys. We started getting a lot of label attention and management attention pretty fast so I think that we felt a little bit pressured into trying to do something. we felt like we could compete with something that was already popular.  I don’t want to say that we weren’t true to ourselves, I just want to say that we were a little bit distracted or intimidated to be the band we wanted to be and take a risk and be ourselves and let our influences shine through.  We did something that was current and modern, but at the same time it wasn’t exactly what we wanted to be.  I think that’s where we were when we started, but as two of the members ended up leaving for different reasons we were sort of forced to go through six months of touring acoustic and song writing and trying to find new members and really identifying what we wanted out of the people that were going to be the new members of our band.  When we finally found Chris and Ryan we finally started to get confidence and our band started to be really fun again.  We started to feel like the shows were getting better and the relationship was a lot better.  So I think it gave everybody the confidence to be like we’re just going to be ourselves. We’re going to write the songs we want to write whether people like them or not.  Hopefully people can take something away from that.  Adding people like Chris and Ryan certainty changed the way we went about writing our music and playing our music live.

SS:  So you guys have a new album out...  How has the overall response to that been?
CM:  Pretty overwhelming, you know.  You have the few fans that are going to be like the old stuff is so much better but I’ve seen that very few times.
CM: Yeah, It’s been surprising how we’re getting a really positive response so far.  I can’t ask for anything more than that.

SS:  So, do you guys ever play songs off of “Third Act Stories”  or are you pretty much done with that?
JK:  I mean, “I’ll Meet You at the Bottom” turned into Closer and we play that every night or almost every show because that’s one of the old ones that was popular and i think that helped us gain a little bit of known variety.
CM:  We played “Revved and Ready” on the Hey Monday Tour.
JK: We still do “When Do We Lose Ourselves”  a fair amount too and we still play “Romance” live.  That song actually evolved from “Third Act Stories” to what it is now after adding Chris and Ryan.  The way we play it now is a lot different from the record, but people still seem to identify with it.  I don’t know, it’s like a throw back but the stuff off the new record is the stuff we’ve written with the five of us. It just feels so much better and so much more honest and more natural to us.  We’ll do the throwback stuff for the kids that like it, but we’re going to do the new stuff for us.

SS:  What’s your favorite song off the new album and why?
CM:  Mine’s the last track, “So Crazy.”  We’ve been playing that recently.  I think even before I was in the band they had most of the record written and that song he wrote was like three days before we recorded the record.  Maybe subconsciously he wrote it knowing what direction we were going to go for on the next record.  So I think songs like that and “Skinny Jeans” have a Classic Rock, Country influence.  It seems to me that’s what we’re trying to personify the band with.
JK: Yeah, that’s the weird thing.  A lot of this record was written when it was just Dan, Topher, and I.  A little bit was written after Ryan joined, but Chris being the last member, he started off with being the guitar player when we hired him for one tour, the Hey Monday tour. It was a thing where when he flew out and met up with us, it was like two or three weeks into the tour and everybody just knew that it felt great.  The family relationship felt great and we knew that it was going to be a full time thing.  Chris brings a special style of playing guitar to the band that nothing else before him written was to accommodate. It was the fact that we didn’t have anybody that could do that.  So he has a style where he can just sing on the guitar and the stuff that was written with Chris almost blends itself to a more Classic Rock thing, and that’s something i think we want to do more of as we move forward.  I agree that “So Crazy” is one of the best.  For me, I think “Skinny Jeans” is probably one of my favorites.  I wrote it on Thanksgiving one year. I was sitting at my kitchen table and I wrote a song in like fifteen minutes.  It ended up being one of the best songs I’ve ever written.  In a story prospective, I think it makes a lot of sense.

SS:  Are there any major changes that you’ve made from “Fiction Fever” to the Self Titled?
JK:  I think “Fiction Fever” was something that was a little more based in quote on quote “the scene.” It was a little bit of an overall younger perspective on the world and a little bit more of a straight modern approach to writing, but I think that the full length record we’re paying a lot more respect to the bands we grew up listening to. It’s the theme in the sense that it’s still our record, but we started to expand and move more into a contemporary rock band.  That’s what we want to be, a rock band, more than a pop punk band or anything else band.  We just want to be good song writers at the end of the day so I think that is a lot more universal approach.  We let stuff that you’d listen to like Aerosmith and Journey come through on the full length.  I think on the second record you can expect the best that’s come through even more because we would have been on the road for god knows how long with our five person line up. We will be writing the record a lot more together than we did the first one.
CM:  It’s weird, like we honestly weren’t sure what to expect playing songs like “So Crazy,” stuff like that. but so far, I think almost that’s a turning point in our set. We’re the opening band so we have to warm up the crowd most of the time, so it’s like waiting for that song.  I don’t think a lot of bands are writing songs like that anymore, so a lot of people are new to it.  The young girls that come to the show have never heard anything like it, so a lot of times the reaction is great.

SS:  You also have a new video out.  How has the overall response been to that?
JK:  It’s been great.
CM:  It actually just went up on the front page of Purevolume today so I think that after today we will start hearing.  Before today it was like fans just being like “oh yeah we love it,”  but we’ll find out I guess in the next few days.
JK:  We’re proud of it though.  We had a lot of fun making it.  It’s our first video as a band so it was a cool experience to make it together and be apart of that process and see how it’s done so we had fun.
CM:  It was miserable to make but it was a lot of fun. Fifteen Degrees shooting a video was not fun to do.

SS:  You’ve been on tour with This Providence now for awhile.  How’s the tour been treating you guys?
CM:  Probably musically and fellowship wise one of the best tours I’ve ever done.  I love every band on the tour.  It’s rare you can literally sit through bands and watch them on the whole tour every night.
JK:   You’re watching the same set every night for like 6 weeks.   Most of the time when you tour you get to a point where you’ve seen the show.
CM:  It becomes more of a job.
JKAnarbor, I love watching that band every single night and I can watch that band every single night and always be blown away at how much they grow on a day to day basis.  The Audition has so much experience.  I think that they are one of the most underrated bands as far as bands that work hard and write good songs go.  This Providence is obviously on a different level than a lot of bands right now.  I don’t think they nearly get the respect they deserve as far as playing and performing goes.  We just love watching it all the way through.

SS:  You toured with This Providence last summer, you must be pretty good friends now?
JK: We’ve actually done three tours with them in the last year.  Hey Monday is where we met and I think we bonded on that tour because we were similar bands and we were different from the others on the bill.  We sort of had each other being the ones that had a little bit of an older demographic being into it and stuff, so I think over the last couple tours they’ve become pretty much our best friends as far as bands are concerned.  The off days we have little outings together.  We had Easter dinner together.
CM:  Yeah Easter dinner at TGI Fridays.  This is actually my fourth tour with This Providence.  The band I played with before The Bigger Lights, my first real tour ever in like 2006 was with June and This Providence so I’ve been friends with these guys for years.  It was nice having my first tour with The Bigger Lights be with them.  Actually, they have a guitar player with them right now, Jake, and the first day I was like “oh hey guys I haven’t seen you in forever, what’s up?” And they were like “hey what’s up? Jake’s leaving for a few weeks if you want to fill in,” so I actually had to fill in for This Providence for a few weeks which was amazing.  Love those dudes.  Oh and before I forget, I’d like to give a shout out to Artist Vs. Poet they were on the first few weeks of tour and we love those guys too.

SS:  Any crazy tour stories so far?
JK:  We had a little beach shindig with This Providence that involved a lot of Big Daddy dancing.
CM:  I don’t know if you’ve seen This Providence’s tour manager, we call him Big Daddy.  He has this huge beard.  We went to the Clear Water Beach after one of the Florida shows and it was completely dark.  You couldn’t see anything.  The whole tour was on the beach at night.  Family and friends came it was kind of like a shin dig.
JK:  Somehow Big Daddy always ends up dancing.

SS:  You’re touring with Cute Is What We Aim For next, are you excited about that?
JK:  Yeah we’re stoked.  It’s going to be cool. They haven’t toured in a while so I think kids are really excited for them to get back on the road.  We’re really thankful we get to be apart of that and be on that tour, and play to all those kids and be with all those bands.
CM: Yeah and to see our friends in the Friday Night Boys.  It will be good hangs.

SS:  So what are some goals that the band has, long term or short?
JK:  Take over the world.  I don’t know, I think that success is all about how you define it.  To us we define success as continuing to push ourselves as musicians and continuing to write songs that we feel like are great songs.  We just want to be great songwriters and performers.  For us, it’s not about getting as huge as we possibly can or tangible points of success.  For us it’s all about pushing each other and to continue to believe in what we’re doing.  Obviously we’d like to push it to a point where the band is up to the next level and all that, but I think as long as we’re writing songs that we love then we’re pretty happy as long as we can get by.

SS:  Any last comments before we end?
JK:  Always be classy.
CM:  Freedom isn’t free.
JK:  And thank you.

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