INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK
One of the rising stars in Virginia’s pop punk scene is the five-piece SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS, which is based in the Virginia Beach area. Formed in May 2014, the band’s lineup includes vocalist Bryant Leary, guitarists Jason Schneider and Tyler Kishbaugh, drummer Dan Sykes, and bassist Matt Watson. Though they are no strangers to the pop punk genre, having played in successful bands previous to forming SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS, the members are clearly elevated in their musical prowess and capabilities. In January 2015, the band released their debut EP Torn Up and have already set their sights on evolving their sound to be bigger and better on their next record.
Who is the biggest fan of THE POSTAL SERVICE in the band?
Jason: I’ll have to take the cake on that one.
Can you tell me why you chose SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS as your band name?
Jason: We were looking for a name that would really describe and give a visual to our music. We wanted something that was more of a positive vibe with definitely not a negative connotation but more of a positive connotation that took the listener automatically to a positive place. We definitely want to take this beyond anything musical that any of us have done before, and SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS was just an obvious name. When it dawned on us, it was the obvious choice is everyone’s eyes.
Tyler: We love to keep people elevated and ourselves elevated. So SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS is a perfect name for that.
In May 2014, you guys started your band with only four members and since then have solidified your lineup to include five guys and released a stellar EP. In your opinion, in what ways has your band progressed over the last nine months to where you are today?
Jason: It’s been quite a wild ride. Tyler was the member that you mentioned that joined with us, and really our lineup wasn’t complete until he [joined the band]. Even though we did a lot of the work before he was there, we [didn’t] really see ourselves as complete before he [joined]. It’s really been the most fun journey that we’ve been on, and releasing this album has been a dream come true for us. I think, musically, a lot of us accomplished what we really wanted to so far and also set sight for bigger and better things in the future.
Tyler: When I joined the band, it was definitely a different experience. There wasn’t that stress of “Who are these guys? What am I gonna be playing? Am I good enough?” It kind of just all flowed naturally, and since I’ve joined, we’ve been playing shows and putting out this EP. We’ve all really grown together and definitely have an awesome vision for the future with what we are producing. The music is definitely keeping us all together and keeping us growing.
Are you all locals of Virginia Beach?
Tyler: I’ve been here since I was three, so I would definitely consider everything that I’m conscious of as a human being to be what I know of Virginia Beach. It’s where it’s at. This is where we stay, and this is where we are from.
Bryant: I would have to agree. I’ve been here for about 17 years, and I would say, as far as me and Tyler, both of us are originally from Virginia Beach.
Jason: I was born and raised on the west coast until I was about 16, and our bass player Matt, who is in Bahrain on deployment right now, is from the west coast as well. He came out to Virginia with the [U.S.] Navy, but he and I are actually from the same town in California. We didn’t know each other there, but it’s kind of ironic that we are both from the same little town in Lancaster.
I know that your band includes former member of ADDISON and BROADSIDE. Are any of your other bandmates alumni of other well-known bands in this area?
Jason: Dan, our drummer, and I were both in ADDISON, and I used to be in SAM’S THE HERO as well.
Tyler: Me and Matt, our bass player, actually came from the same band called AS ONE. Theyre not as well known in the area. but when SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS reached out to Matt and I, that’s when we all came together.
In January 2015, you guys released your EP Torn Up, which has lots of typical pop punk riffs, as well as some elements people might find unexpected. What do you feel are some of the greatest strengths of this record?
Tyler: For me, at least, I definitely love the vocals as what is being said lyrically and how they are being portrayed through the melodies, and also the guitar work how everything fuses together really well. It also goes over well live playing songs off the record. The guitars sound really, really well together. I really like it. It’s really strong.
Jason: One of the areas that I see strengths with kind of goes along with what Tyler said. It’s a really powerful record. It’s got a little bit of everything, and I think that’s one of the strengths. There’s parts where it is extremely fast; there’s parts where it is extremely soft and there’s a lot of build up. I think it has got a beautiful flow up and down. My dad is a musician and the number one thing he has always taught me was it’s not about the notes but the space between them, and I kind of live by that as a musician. I think that comes across really well in this record.
Personally, I love the easycore element of your band, which you don’t hear too often anymore. It was more so present in the late 90s to early 2000s. Is this a path you will continue to pursue on future records in the foreseeable future?
Jason: I would say, as of right now, yes. You’re gonna hear a lot more of everything you’ve heard. It’s gonna get more aggressive and more melodic; it’s gonna get prettier and dirtier. It’s just going to be more of everything. I think it’s gonna be more new, but I don’t think we’ll ever lose that nostalgic 2000s feel.
Tyler: Don’t forget that music evolves just like we do, and it’s always gonna change. It’s never gonna be the same. We’re very excited for what is going to be coming up.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS
Do you guys have any plans to tour later this year in promotion of this record?
Bryant: Me and my bassist Matt, and all of us, have been talking about it, and we’re getting some stuff together along with new music as well. We are hoping to be booking a couple shows either down south or up north sometime in summer or fall.
Since you mentioned new music, do you already have another record in the works?
Jason: We have already begun working towards it. Kind of the philosophy that all five of us approached was you shouldn’t ever not be writing music, even if you are not writing for an album. As a musician and as a band, you should always be writing new music. So immediately after Torn Up came out, we jumped back to our favorite thing to do, and that is getting to the studio or getting to the practice space and asking what ideas everyone has been sitting on since the last time we did this. So far, we’ve gotten a little bit into it, and we are absolutely in love with it.
What would you say are the most important values of SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS?
Tyler: I think one of our values is definitely to make a positive impact.
Jason: I think definitely a value we hold is just being true to yourself. A lot of what we bring to the table is just to not be afraid to bring an idea, musically or whatever.
Bryant: Just having fun. Meeting new people and getting the word around. Honestly that’s what I feel it’s all about, although I do agree with Tyler and Jason’s statements.
For more updates on SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS, be sure to “like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, and listen to Torn Up on Bandcamp.