DEBUT EP BETTER “BELATED.” THAN NEVER

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WORDS BY JOE FITZPATRICK AND TIM FOGG

PHOTOS BY JESSICA BRYCE AND BILLY SOURS

How do you take your emo pop? BELATED. prefers it “acoustic driven.”

In the driver’s seat is Jordon Ronan, the former vocalist of SHARP SLEEVES, a Blacksburg-based pop punk band previously known as HERO TO HUMAN.  In February 2016, in between college classes and writing music, Ronan drafted Tim Fogg from the Richmond punk band A COLLEGIATE AFFAIR to play lead guitar.

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DESPITE FEELING “OUT OF PLACE” IN THE VIRGINIA POP PUNK SCENE, A COLLEGIATE AFFAIR OVERCOME CHALLENGES TO REACH OUT TO NEW FANS AND DEVELOP MORE MATURE, POLISHED SOUND

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INTERVIEW BY SHELBY BAKER

PHOTOS BY WILL FISHER AND BILLY COLLIER

It’s been nearly a year since A COLLEGIATE AFFAIR released their debut EP, Out of Place. Since then, the Richmond-based four-piece have been busy. They’ve toured consistently, welcomed a new vocalist, and are preparing to release their follow-up EP, titled Calling Card, in just a few weeks. With all this change and experience came a new mindset toward their song writing. The songs on Out of Place were the band’s very first attempt at songwriting and were influenced by various artists. This time around, they took the time to create polished, substantial songs for their next release. We caught up with bassist/vocalist Mike Stecher and guitarist Tim Fogg to dish about Calling Card, major influences, and what sets them apart from other bands on the scene.

What inspired the band name?

Tim: At the time, we were all going into college, and we just kind of named it that. We couldn’t think of a good name, and we wanted to stand out and didn’t want a generic sounding name. That’s kind of how it turned out.

I actually reviewed your EP Out of Place, and I really enjoyed it. I liked that it was old-school pop punk. What was the inspiration behind the songs on the EP?

Mike: We’d be at practice and Tim would play something and we’d be like, “That sounds good,” then I’d make lyrics and that’s how it came together.

Tim: We spent about two years writing it. We weren’t doing it full-time, and Mike was going through stuff — at school and at home, and that was the inspiration. It was our first attempt [at writing songs], so some of the songs are not as polished as we would have liked. Our newer songs have a much more mature and focused approach.

What bands or artists are your main inspirations?

Mike: My favorite band is IRON MAIDEN, and I love BLINK-182, FOUR YEAR STRONG, and RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. Those are probably my biggest influences.

Tim: My favorite band is also BLINK-182, and I really like FALL OUT BOY. I also really like A DAY TO REMEMBER and FOUR YEAR STRONG as well.

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I’ve noticed you guys perform a ton of free shows. Is there a reason behind playing shows for free?

Tim: We generally don’t like to do that since it means we don’t get paid, and we need money to get around. It definitely can bring a lot of a crowd, and people who don’t have money can come out. It’s a better experience, and people buy merchandise, so we get some money.

Mike: It’s a lot less stress than having to worry about presales; normally you have to sell a set number of tickets [at each show], and instead it’s like, “Hey, it’s free, come out,” and new people are more likely to come to the show.

What do you think defines your band’s sound?               

Tim: When we write, we try to mix all of our influences. We try to mix a blend of RISE AGAINST and BLINK-182 to create a unique sound, as well as some combinations of some pop. Musically, we just pull all our influences, and when we write, it just comes out how it comes out.

Mike: Our EP [Out of Place] was like that.

What do you think separates you from other current pop-punk bands?

Mike: We’re labeled as pop punk, but I think that’s because nobody else knows what to call us. We’re not like any other bands we play with. We’re just sort of there.

Tim: That’s also why our first EP was called Out of Place. But when we write, we don’t try to sound like anybody, and we don’t want to sound generic, so we write each song multiple times.

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In April 2013, you guys opened for AARON CARTER on his “The After Party” Tour. How did that opportunity present itself?

Tim: I really like AARON CARTER; I saw him in concert when he was like 8 years old. We knew a promoter in Richmond, and I heard that he was performing there. I asked around and to see if people would come to it and everyone was freaking out. Now when I first get introduced to people, the first thing they know is that I opened for AARON CARTER.

What was it like opening for AARON CARTER?

Mike: It was a really good experience, and it was a really good crowd. We were used to playing pop punk and metal shows where the crowd was mostly guys, but at that show we played to three or four hundred girls, so that was a huge change for us.

Tim: It was a different crowd then what we’re used too; we gained a lot of fans and made new contacts so it worked out well.

Is there a band or artist that you would love to open for or tour with in the future?

Tim: I’d love to open for RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE or BLINK-182, either one of those.

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Are you guys working on new material?

Tim: We have a bunch of demos, and were recording a new EP and a new single. Right now, it’s being mixed and mastered, but it will be released mid-September and will be named Calling Card.

Mike: In about two or three weeks, we’ll release the artwork.

For more updates on A COLLEGIATE AFFAIR, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, and check out their music on Bandcamp.