What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Chris: I have been into music since I was a little kid. I was always surrounded by it. I remember being five years old, listening to *NSYNC on a CD player in my bed. Fast forward to playing Guitar Hero for the first time when I was 9 or 10, and falling in love with games like that and Dance Dance Revolution. I got my first guitar when I was 12 years old, and I fell so in love with learning the instrument and learning how to play songs. After my first few lessons, I kept sticking with it and wanting to improve. Eventually I started my first band when I was 17 and have been doing it since. I don’t really know what I would be doing or where I would be if I didn’t get into music. Running a coffee shop? Streaming video games? Something involving marketing?
Dan: My dad got my brothers (I have a twin and an older brother) and I into music when we were young. He listened to a wide variety of rock and punk music and always said to my mom, “I would rather buy three violins than football pads.” He stayed true to that when he bought our first instruments for us when we were fifth grade and I got a trumpet. As my brothers and I proved our dedication to music, we all got rock band instruments and literally that day started learning whatever songs we were into at the time together - the rest is history after that. It’s hard to say what I would be doing if I wasn’t a career musician, but there was a brief point in time where I thought I would be a math teacher.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Chris: I am huge into video games. I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember. Kingdom Hearts, Smash Bros., Gran Tursimo, Vs. Capcom series, I’ve been surrounded by it all since I was 3 or so. Music from video games definitely inspires me a lot musically. I see what kind of music parts I can come up with during menu themes of video games, and then incorporate those new parts into my song writing. Themes and stories from video games have also inspired me lyrically at times as well. The band’s name, as well as the name of our song, “All’s End,” are actually both references to Kingdom Hearts!
Dan: I am a massive wrestling fan, and since the launch of All Elite Wrestling, I have followed the world of wrestling very closely. How does it relate to Highwind? I have no idea. If anything, wrestling has taught me that nothing is off limits, and there are really no bad ideas. The most ridiculous ideas and gimmicks can be successful as long as we believe in whatever we’re working because if we don’t believe in the product, how is anyone else supposed to?
How long has your band been around?
Chris: Highwind started as my solo project in 2018, so about four years now. It all started with me wanting to demo songs with my friend CJ Rarela, who was recording artists at the time and is still recording his own covers. After the first demo session, we said screw it and wanted to record the full EP by ourselves.
Dan: I joined Highwind in June of 2021 just after we finished recording Something Right in Between.
Chris and I met while filling in for a local metalcore band in 2018, I played some shows for Highwind in late 2019, and during the pandemic, recorded a handful of songs with him, and really I had no interest in joining a band at the time. I was really burnt out from all of the projects I had worked on prior and was just starting to get into session drumming, but Chris and I work so well together, and his passion for Highwind reignited my passion for being in a band and here we are. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Chris: We are based out of Asbury Park, NJ. The local scene around here, all of the friends we’ve made from gigging around the state and going to shows for years on end, have pushed me to keep going every day. We have been shown so much love around here, that it really inspires me to push myself as an artist every day, to always take the next step. I’m really thankful for that.
Dan: I think Chris really nailed that one; don’t have anything to add.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Chris: Highwind is a reference to the video game, Kingdom Hearts! It’s also a reference to the Final Fantasy series by the same developer and publisher, but I have always been so much more into Kingdom Hearts than Final Fantasy. It’s been something I have been playing for years on end, and am probably more into the series than I should be. But the name of the band coming from something I have been into for so long is just a nice way for me to stay in touch with where I started, you know?
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Chris: We just played our album release show for, “Something Right in Between,” a few weeks ago. And that is a show I will NEVER forget. Hearing everyone in the crowd scream the new lyrics back to us had me smiling from ear to ear. The energy was great, the crowd was having just as much fun as we were on stage, it really was one of the best nights of my life up to this point. Our first show back, post-COVID was amazing too. We played a Halloween festival in Providence, Rhode Island in 2021, and we were welcomed with such open arms in a state we had never played before. It was that, “WE ARE BACK, BABY,” moment for me, and I was thrilled to be playing live music again.
Dan: March 23rd, 2022 - House of Independents in Asbury Park with Bilmuri and Jacketless. That show sent me to another planet. The sound was perfect, we played very well, the show was well attended and we made a lot of new friends that night. What else could we even ask for? Shouts out to Joe Pulito for booking that banger.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Chris: House of Independents in Asbury Park was a lot of fun to play at, and I’d love to play there again. Great sounding venue, lots of room to move, lots of opportunity to interact with the crowd. Playing there again would be really cool. I’d also love to start making our way out west, and start playing with some of our friends out in Colorado, Texas, and California.
Dan: Alchemy in Providence, RI is my favorite venue so far, and I would love to play Asbury Lanes in the near future as well as expand our presence across the country and play wherever anyone will have us.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Chris: The Band Camino, K. Flay, and us is a dream come true lineup for me. Touring with As It Is is also a goal of mine that I would love to make a reality.
Dan: I love fantasy booking, okay. Totally unrealistic right now, but I would love to rip a gig with Carley Rae Jepsen. The Band CAMINO would be incredible, Waterparks would be sick. I think the list of bands is pretty infinite right now.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Chris: Write whatever kind of music makes you happy, and don’t be afraid of that changing. Before Highwind came along, I was so rooted in writing one kind of style of music and ONLY one style of music. Once Highwind came about, I knew I wanted and NEEDED to start changing things up. And then even more so once we started writing for our debut album. So my advice to new artists would be to just write whatever comes to you, and embrace whatever new inspirations come your way.
Dan: This is going to sound really corny, but if you’re starting your first band, just have fun. If my early bands were more focused on having fun, rather than being serious all the time and focused on what genre we sound like or is whatever we’re playing cool, the experience would have been better. Being in a band is work and requires practice, but if all you do is practice and treat it like a job, you’re going to be miserable.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Chris: Playing shows isn’t everything. It’s a big part of what a band does, but it isn’t everything. Being in a band, being a musician isn’t just about touring anymore. It’s about coming up with creative ways to entertain your audience. Truthfully, that’s a mentality that I still struggle with. But I would easily tell my younger self that music in the modern day is about more than just writing and gigging. And that I should start brainstorming ways to creatively keep my audience captivated with your band, your brand, and who you are as an artist.
Dan: My advice to me would be “shut up, no one cares.” As I alluded to in my previous answer, I was so work/business motivated I lost sight of what this whole music making thing was about - connecting with people. Striking the balance between running the business and having fun and making memories is so difficult and takes years of practice but being aware of these tendencies would have helped me make better decisions throughout my career. Honestly, I’m still learning how to balance that.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Chris: It’s an oldie. The first song that we ever released. But Afterlife will always hold a special place in my heart, because it’s about one of my best friends who passed away a few years ago. It was my way of memorializing him within my music, and my way of coping with the loss a couple of years after it happened. I still miss Adam to this day, and think about him often. So Afterlife was my way of telling him that I miss him.
Dan: “Will You Please (Stay)” will always have a special place in my heart because it is the first song I recorded with Chris and it was my mom’s favorite.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Chris: Sugar is my favorite song to play live, easily. Such a fun song to play, such a fun song to sing, everything feels right every time we play it. Now that everyone knows the song, seeing people dance to it and hearing people sing to it makes it even more fun.
Dan: We had a premonition about this, but everyone loves “All’s End.” We’ve been opening with it live, and the room really comes alive once we hit the last chorus sequence.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Chris: It all starts with an idea that pops into my head. Whether it be a chorus, a verse, a hook, whatever it may be. An idea pops into my head, and I start building the song around that idea that gets stuck in my head. I usually sit down at my computer, and start building the song from there. Sometimes it takes me 45 minutes to build a full song, sometimes it takes me two weeks. After the demo is done on my end, I bring it to Dan for drum improvements, and we work out details and figure out what the song is missing.
Dan: Our process is very simple. Chris writes a demo, sends it to me, I track drums, and send it back. After I demo drums, we’ll play through the demo together in our rehearsal space, and sort of let the spontaneity of the creative process take place and if anything comes up in that setting we will make adjustments to the demo.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Chris: At the end of the day, the core message I like to keep within our songwriting is that it is okay to feel whatever it is that you are feeling. Highwind is all about honesty and transparency within our music. Everything I write is about something I have been through, something I have felt, something I believe, or about something that moved me. And at the end of the day, all I want for the listener is to know that they are valid in whatever they are feeling. If it is negative, they will overcome that negativity and are stronger than whatever is negatively affecting them. If it is positive, you deserve the positivity that you are given and deserve so much more and I can’t wait for the day that you receive all of that positive energy.
Dan: Highwind is a very human experience. This is our art and an explosion of emotions, but it is also a vessel of empathy. Chris and I have been through a lot of stuff, and we want you to know that you’re not alone, and this music is our way of sharing our experiences with you.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Chris: Honestly? Not really. Dan has been so amazing and so easy to work with. We are always communicating. Always on the same page. Always figuring out what the next step is for the band. Always figuring out how one can help the other. If we are ever not on the same page, we talk it out and call it a day. Dan is awesome and I am super thankful to have him a part of the band.
Dan: One of the main reasons Chris and I are in this band together is our ability to collaborate. I don’t love the word disagreements, but every idea Chris and I have is worked on together that is holistically in line with our vision of one day taking over the world.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Chris: More shows for the Summer, more online content going into the fall, going into hiding and writing new music. Right now, we’re just happy that the album is out and want to keep sharing Something Right in Between with the world, because we’re so proud of the album. So for now, we’re gonna keep gigging and keep releasing things out onto the internet to support the album and enjoy the ride!
Dan: We have a little something in the works for our friends on web who we can’t quite physically reach yet, and we’re working on booking some more gigs for the summer. And maybe a few other surprises?