We sat down with local Portland metal band Within Sight to catch up on what the band has been up to lately, details about their new album From The Heart, and more!
Since our last interview, what have you been up to?
Jimmy: What haven’t we been up to?
Grant: To recap, the last time we were here, we had just released Made For This. That was our first single off of our album that we just released last year on November 25th. We definitely had some difficulties just getting scheduling going, recording the new album. It took a little longer than we anticipated. It took about a year to release 3 acoustic tracks and 9 tracks on the full album.
Jimmy: I think it really took a year to find our new sound. That was the key factor of the writing process.
Grant: Also, last time we were here we had just lost our original vocalist so I stepped in as frontman and our drummer took up the other main vocalist position. We definitely had a huge learning curve jumping into the new album. In-between then and now, some cool shows that I remember would probably be my first show as vocalist. It was at the Hawthorne [Theatre] and I only had two months to practice. We opened for Chelsea Grin. It was definitely an experience. I was very nervous. It was a huge milestone for me and the band. The next show after that one, we had actually had a show scheduled at the Hawthorne for our very first headlining show. That was my second show as vocalist. From there, I don’t remember what shows we played but I think we just went into this limbo mode where we really focused on writing the new songs, getting the vocals down, writing solid lyrical content for the new album and also trying to figure out booking and getting the entire next year lined up. That was pretty difficult, just trying to do all those things all at once. I don’t think we played as many shows as we wanted to last year but based on our circumstances, I think we did just fine.
Jimmy: I think we did better than fine but at the same time, we could’ve played more shows. It was mostly an internal learning and learning how to book out of state and sending hundreds of emails and getting turned down and finally being like okay we can play this tiny bar in California. OK, let’s go there! Now we have contacts there and it just evolves from there. We make one phone call and it happens. It starts building from there.
How has your sound progressed since the change up?
Jimmy: Huge vocal melody progression. I think my favorite thing is seeing our drummer Sean evolve. He’s really correct.
Grant: He reads a lot so he’ll always correct me on whether it’s like proper grammar or try this word here instead of this one. He sees the lyrical content different than I do and he definitely helps a lot there. What’s cool is out of nowhere he said “I wanna do vocals” so he just started doing it. Like dude, since when could you sit behind the kit and scream?
Jimmy: And harmonize singing and everything else and still keep time.
Grant: Just within the past year he’s been doing backup harmony vocals and his voice is definitely developing. So for a vocalist to only be doing it for a year, he’s super solid.
What inspired the songs off the new album? You also just played a show at the Hawthorne for it’s release?
Grant: So the album released 2016 on November 25th so Black Friday. It released digitally. That pretty much was released on anywhere you can buy music; iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify. The release show was specifically for the hard copies. That was just to showcase the hard copies for all our local fans. We’re pretty blessed to have the following we do here in Portland. So we showcased the hard copies and sold them there. It was a good experience.
Jimmy: It was nice to see all the work we put in and the people. Like he said, we’re blessed to have the fan-base that we do because they showed up and it was not a crazy show by any means but it was pretty awesome to be our CD release show.
How have fans reacted to the new album? Do you each have your own favorite song off the album?
Grant: Compared to our last album, I just wanted to focus on the lyrical content of this album. Since our last vocalist was a little bit distant from us for various reasons, we almost felt like we could connect with his lyrical content just because he was distant himself. We’re such a tighter group now. We know each other so well. I could just vomit some lyrics on a page and bring them to these guys and ask what do you think of the direction of this song? They tell me “yay or nay” and I roll with it. Just studying other musicians- small time or big time artists. Whatever’s popular generally has a decent lyrical content where the majority of people can put themselves inside of the song.
Jimmy: They can relate to it. That’s what we were going for, especially you [Grant] for most of the lyrical content. Every song has a different meaning whether it’s about somebody we know going through something or somebody in the band personally going through something or all of us relating to something and trying to figure out how to word it into lyrics. It’s all a collaboration. The response has been awesome. They definitely can understand the lyrics better and they can relate to it better than the first album, which is huge. If everyone likes the guitar riffs or the drums, that’s cool but if you don’t have that aspect of being able to relate to the lyrics, it’s not going to be anything. It’ll be cool for a little bit but once you hear it a thousand times, it’s “ehh”. If you get that chorus stuck in your head or the chant before the breakdown, they like it.
What’s your favorite song to play live off From The Heart?
Jimmy: I’ve always liked Made For This because that was our transition phase and the lyrics of the song are that we’re made for this, talking about music and not necessarily just music but whatever you do in life or whatever you think you can do, you can do it. If you believe hard enough and you work at it had enough and give everything to it, you’re going to succeed at it or have some sort of success at it.
Grant: Part of that song talks about how a lot of people can’t relate to your dreams so they might joke around and put you down and say you’re never going to be that or do that. During that transition phase where we changed vocalists, that song was huge for us, mentally. Just to play that song and feel really good about it. The message behind the song just kind of helped us and carried us into the next album. I would have to say my favorite song to play live would either be Left Me For Dead or Feel What I Feel. Feel What I Feel is one of our heaviest songs and the lyrical content is very emotionally heavy. We’ve had a few people message the band page and say they’ve really been able to connect to that song. This kid just kind of broke down and could really relate to the song. It’s such a good feeling knowing that you can make someone feel something just by listening to music. That’s why we do what we do.
What do you have in the works?
Grant: Towards the middle of 2016, kind of in the summer, I think we were finally done with the writing process of the album and I think we were finally able to get a grasp on booking and getting our music out there. We have a lot going on this year already.
Jimmy: In the first two or three months of this year, we’re playing more shows than we played in our first year and a half as a band. That’s just an idea of how busy we are as far as playing out of state and sleeping in our vehicle and not showering. Our first tour was supposed to be a ten day tour. We went through a booking company and we basically got robbed of money. They were supposed to book these shows and we got a phone call or email the day before we were supposed to go on a ten day tour all the way down to Vegas and they basically said “oh, sorry we’re having problems. For an additional fee, we can reschedule your tour to a later time this year.”
Grant: We had communicated with them and paid them a deposit five months in advance. It was a total scam and we definitely learned a lesson there that we could do it ourselves. We didn’t know what we were doing in the first place so we’re like we heard about this company so we should just have them book our tour because we’re in the middle of finishing up the album and recording process.
Jimmy: We have money, it would be easier if they just do it for us. It wasn’t good.
Grant: So what happened?
Jimmy: We decided to do every single date that we had booked through the company. We said screw it and we all took time off of work, we’re just going to go anyway. So literally every single day in the vehicle for ten days straight, we called ahead and offered to play for free, offered to get on any bill we could and we played every single day down to Vegas and all the way back. We didn’t make money, we lost money but we have those contacts now so we can get guarantees when we show up. Now we know bands and promoters. It’s just that stupid little let’s just do it and now we have that. I’ve never been on the road before and it’s crazy to see how much we could actually get done with the down time of driving for six hours and calling ahead and being like we’re going to be in your area sometime tonight, can we play? “I can’t give you any money.” We don’t care, we’ll just play. Can you give us a cheeseburger? “Sure.” Alright, cool. It’s crazy seeing how much we got done when we just sat down and tried. Nothing is impossible. You have to just do it.
Grant: I think that just gave us all a sense of confidence in what we are doing because we were able to book shows on the fly and make friends, fans, and real contacts with real people.What we learned was more valuable than what we paid in fuel.
Jimmy: Or blown out tires.
Grant: Yea, our A/C went out in the middle of the desert in Vegas.
Jimmy: It was 116 degrees.
Grant: We had a tire blow out on the trailer. Typical tour problems.
Jimmy: In reality we were pretty lucky. The vehicle was good, besides the A/C unit. We had to roll down the windows and rub ice on each other’s faces.
Grant: So that ten day tour was pretty awesome. That was in late June of 2016. It was definitely an eye opener for us. We played I don’t know how many shows throughout the year but basically I wanted to start planning for 2017 because our album was going to be out. Even up to that point, it was hard for us to promote ourselves as a band because the new material wasn’t released until November. So we’re trying to promote ourselves off of our old album with a different vocalist and we’re a completely different band now with solid lyrical content and the music is just so much better. I think that was a hurdle we had to jump over for booking in 2016. Once the album was out, then it was really time to buckle down and start promoting the band and the album. As of right now, we have 35 shows lined up between now and April 15th. That’s playing anywhere and everywhere between the Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle through California down to Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas and over to Montana, Spokane, and Boise. I think we’re all seasoned enough to where we know that we need to be hitting all of these cities and we need to be hitting them fast. It’s honestly one of our goals to make it to the East Coast within a year. I don’t know whether it’s going to happen this year but it’s definitely in the back of my mind. I think we’re the type of band that has to be swinging through the fences all the time if we’re going to be doing this for a job. This year we’re definitely a lot more focused. You can hear that we’re more focused when we’re playing live and on the album.
So when you’re hitting all of those cities, are they apart of a tour?
Grant: There are a couple small tours and then another ten day tour.
Jimmy: So basically there’s a lot of weekend warrior. Like, how far can we drive in three days and get back home so everybody can get back to work?
Grant: So right now, we’re doing a three day tour with our good friends Cathedral Hills from Grants Pass. We’re playing in Albany, Seattle, Grants Pass, off for a few days and then on March 1st we’re opening for Otep in Portland. We’re playing the Ash St. in Portland and then going back to Medford on the 3rd. On the 4th, we’re playing an indoor skate park in Astoria, so that’s another four days. We have a few days off and then we’re playing in Portland again at Rock Hard PDX. Then we’re gone from March 17th-March 26th when we’re going down to Vegas, also hitting Arizona this time. April 3rd we’re playing for a band from the UK I think called the Browning. Then a few other dates in April. In-between the small tour and the beginning of April, there’s roughly 30-something shows. I’m excited because we have new merch to sell, hard copies to sell on the road, thousands of business cards. Anywhere we go, we’re prepared to promote ourselves and meet new people. This is it.
Anything else you wanted to talk about? Any plans for summer?
Jimmy: I’m excited to see what the year will bring. We’re booked until April 15th right now. The summer has the busy months which is scarier.
Grant: We’re always trying to book months in advance so right now, we’re working on dates trying to fill up April. We’re not trying to do anything too crazy just because we have to save up some of our time off, a few months later, for when June happens, we can hit the road again and be gone for like two weeks. Right now, I know we’re swinging for the fences but realistically, we have to get onto Warped Tour. I don’t know how that’s going to happen. We’ve sent out emails, but it’s only a matter of time before our music gets in front of the right person and they see we’re dedicated musicians. We bought the tour rig, the nice trailer so we can haul all of our merch. We’re ready to tour. The first seven dates of Warped Tour are within our reach to where starting in Seattle, we’ll go as far as Utah. I have a few contacts that I’ve reached out to and who knows what will happen. That’s the goal, to get on the first seven dates of Warped Tour. From there, we have a couple of events that I’m thinking about but that’s also swinging for the fences.
Jimmy: The main goal is Warped Tour.
Grant: If we don’t get onto Warped or we don’t hit these bigger shows, we’re still going on the road. We’re still going to take the time off. Who knows if we’ll go back to Vegas or maybe we’ll head east and go as far east as we can in two weeks.
Details on music videos?
Grant: The Left Me For Dead video was the first single with a music video that we released for this album. That’s on our YouTube and we’ve gotten some really great responses on that song. The video quality is awesome. Definitely have to give a shoutout to Kendall Johns because he did the video for us and a lot of our merch designs. My wife did the makeup for our album cover and Kendall took the photo. We have two other music videos that are unreleased that we’re just sitting on. When we feel the time is right, we can’t wait to release them. That’s another way we can really promote ourselves.
Catch Within Sight opening for Otep on March 1st.