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On September 17, 2016, Willow Grove Farm in Winchester, Va. will host the first Valley Fusion Festival. With a focus on bringing in both nationally recognized and locally touring artists, the festival strives to highlight the talent of the musicians and visual artists in the Shenandoah Valley, with the goal of creating a new space for artists to demonstrate their work in an accessible location.

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Few bands these days are truly hungry for consuming new influences. They settle to fit inside a carefully curated mold. From psychedelic to punk, to the college rock and grunge era, BURNING DIRTY are as intricate and simultaneously simple as a potato dug up from the soil with your bare hands. And they consume all the potatoes they can get their hands on.

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Formerly known as the voice of the pop punk duo RANDOM HOLIDAY, vocalist and guitarist Mike Frazier is setting out on his own, but he is not doing it alone. Instead, he has been actively writing songs from the heart based on his most personal stories and life experiences with the support of close friends in an out of bands in Virginia and throughout the U.S.

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On December 3, the members of the Winchester, Va pop punk group RANDOM HOLIDAY hinted at a breakup coming later this month. Today, vocalist/guitarist and founding member Michael Frazier set the record straight by releasing a statement to us regarding the band’s decision to split up. You can read Frazier’s statement below:

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In addition to doing feature interviews with local bands and musicians, we have also started to do bi-monthly video interviews with the top talent in the Virginia music scene with the help of Stephanie McKendrick Photography and Summation Audio. This month we had the chance to talk with MAMMOTH INDIGO at Rally in the Alley in Winchester.

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Though they have only been together for a little longer than a year, the members of REALITY CHECK are quickly becoming one of the most popular hardcore bands in the Northern Virginia region. Though the area is not as inundated with hardcore bands as more populated areas in Southern Virginia, the band is hoping that will change soon. I had the chance to visit their band practice to talk to the band, which consists of the guitarists Frank and Jeremy, their vocalist Keenan, their fill-in drummer Andy (not actually in the band), and their bassist Brandon. We talked about how fans have been responding to their music, what people can expect from their new record, and some of the most underrated bands in the Virginia hardcore scene.

Earlier this year you released your debut demo. What has the response been to it in the local hardcore scene?

Frank: I haven’t heard much, but people seem to like it. It makes my friends want to punch other people in the face.

Jeremy: Yeah, it’s fun to watch my friends beat up each other. At least they have heard it (laughs).

Andy: I lost part of my tooth at the show we played with AGITATOR in Winchester.

Frank: Were you hurt during just our band’s set?

Andy: No, I was hurt during every band (laughs).

Why did you decide to name your band REALITY CHECK?

Jeremy: It’s from XZIBIT lyrics (laughs).

Frank: It’s not from the WARHOUND album. Everyone thinks we used it because of that.

Andy: We stole it from this band from New York, and now we got beef with them (laughs).

I know you all have played in other bands before this, but why do you feel like this band has been more successful?

Frank: All my old bands suck (laughs).

Jeremy: We got the right people, and more people show up to support us.

Brandon: Some people have even told me that they come out to shows just to see us play.

Frank: I just found out today that our buddy Matty Breen lost his virginity while wearing a REALITY CHECK shirt (laughs).

Andy: This band sucks, and I’m not in the band (laughs).


What can fans expect from your upcoming record?

Frank: Heaviness and better sounding songs.

Jeremy: A lot faster stuff too.

Frank: I am really proud of what we have written so far. We have five new songs that we are going to release on a 7 inch.

Brandon: Does the intro count as a song?

Keenan: Well four and a half songs (laughs).

What is your favorite song to play live, and why?

Jeremy: “Time Erased” is really fun to play.

Frank: I really like “Day After Day” mainly because everyone moshes so hard for the riff and then stops when the drum part comes in (laughs). They’re like, ‘Aww yeah! That riff!’ and then nothing. It’s really funny to me.

Brandon: I really like “Day After Day” too because I can relate to it.

What is “Day After Day” about?

Frank: Working.

Brandon: It’s about putting in the hours to get by and to pay your bills.

Keenan: But no matter how much you work, you are still broke.

Do you have any plans to tour in 2014?

Frank: I would love to.

Brandon: Fingers crossed.

Jeremy: Yeah that would be cool, but I think we would want to do weekend tours and start slow.

Frank: I just want to play Pennsylvania, especially in York and Philly. AGITATOR, MENACE, ROCK BOTTOM, and BENCHPRESS have all offered to put us on shows up there, but there hasn’t been much follow through with that. Hopefully we can set something up soon.


What are your thoughts on the local hardcore scene?

Jeremy: There are bands everywhere, but you may have to travel to see them.

Frank: There isn’t much of a Nova hardcore scene.

Brandon: Also, bands in other cities don’t get as much recognition as bands in bigger areas like Richmond or Virginia Beach.

Frank: We usually have to travel at least an hour to go play shows, but Hank Haus in Winchester is the shit!

Jeremy: Yeah, also Roanoke is cool, and no one should overlook it. Touring bands have to be invited out to play there because it’s not somewhere they would normally stop, but it’s a great scene and everyone there is really cool.

Frank: All the venues there are DIY, but it’s tight, and we have never seen one fight at a show there. Everyone is there for the music and to have fun.

Who are some underrated bands from Virginia that you guys think more people need to hear?  



Keenan: WAR BORN has a new record coming out soon. WIRETAP has new shit coming out too.

Frank: STRANGLEHOLD from Virginia Beach is underrated only because they are young, but their music is tight as shit.

Keenan: Also, IN SEARCH OF REASON. They are a metalcore band, and their drummer has filled in for us many times.

Do you guys have any upcoming shows?

Frank: This Saturday [November 2nd], we are playing with EARTH CRISIS at Café 611 in Frederick, MD. Come out and punch somebody in the face (laughs).

For more updates on REALITY CHECK and their upcoming record, follow them on Twitter, “like” their Facebook page, and listen to their demo on Bandcamp.


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Having been formed since 2009, pop punk act, RANDOM HOLIDAY, have been very focused on their music career. The band started with four members in Winchester, VA during their freshmen year of high school. However, the band has been reduced to the two current members, guitarist Noah Mullinax and vocalist/guitarist Mike Frazier. They have since toured in multiple cities, most recently a trip through the east coast. Their debut full-length album, Space to Grow, inspired by the song of the same name by THE DANGEROUS SUMMER, was released during the spring of this year. Their music is for those who desire insight, with catchy lyrics, clean riffs and vocals with a subtle edge reminiscent of Jon Simmons of BALANCE AND COMPOSURE. I was given the amazing opportunity to meet with the laid-back and incredibly friendly members and spoke to them about their influences and future of the band. Their debut album is currently available on Bandcamp, which can be found on their Facebook page.

What made you want to start a band?

Mike Frazier: I always wanted to start a band.

Noah Mullinax: I was bored and couldn’t skate.

How did you guys meet?

Mullinax: From our original bassist Kyle, he knew Mike and asked if we wanted to start playing music. Basically through mutual friends, it had boiled down to the two of us. We didn’t know each other before the band.

Frazier: We started hanging out a lot more than the other two. When we started we were a ska band, but it didn’t work out (musically).

Who are your biggest influences? Who or what inspired you to create music?

Mullinax: GREEN DAY and BLINK 182. Basically those two. Our tastes have expanded since then.

Frazier: We’re the same (influentially). When I saw the video for “American Idiot”, I knew I wanted to be in a band.

What’s the song you are most proud of?

Frazier: Either “17” or “Where I Belong”. We brought in so much new stuff, the structure and drum beats, as well as acoustic guitars. Lyrically, “Where I Belong” is my favorite, but “17” describes the record. Like when you turn 17 life starts to get real, you experience new things. So much had happened in that short period of time. “Crossing the Potomac” is another favorite of mine lyrically; it’s mainly about traveling up in Maryland with our buddy Phil.

Mullinax: (About being 17) You start to see how the world works. You start to make real decisions that make your future. One of my favorite songs is “Lee”, which is the second song [on the record]; I just like the dynamics of it. The emotions are out there, it’s on our sleeve at that point.

How was your recent tour? Where did you go?

Mullinax: It was probably the best tour we’ve done. We went from Florida and then drove up the east coast. Went to a lot of beaches and swam a lot.

Frazier: We went to all the states above Florida. DISTANCES were a great band to tour with.

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Where are you touring next?

Frazier: Just a couple days with BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES. We’re doing Maryland, Yonkers in New York and New Jersey, as well as a hometown show.

Random Holiday is an interesting band name. What does it mean and what inspired you to make it the band’s name?

Mullinax: Absolutely nothing. There’s no story behind it, I just thought of two catchy words together.

Frazier: It just popped in his head.

What other names were you considering?

Frazier: How’s My Driving which is a LESS THAN JAKE song. Also, Up Your Assets. Most of the other names had no meaning.

What do you hope your music means to your fans or future listeners?

Mullinax: The release or expression of some type of emotion; that the music means something.

Frazier: I’d hope it’s relatable, there are times in your life that you want “to swift” (meaning to pull a “Taylor Swift” song-writing wise). We hope there are songs that speak to people and hit them on an emotional level. We have some songs that are situational that are going in society and can help you cope with it. We want people to feel something.

Are you working on a new album or EP?

Mullinax: Somewhat. We’re both writing, but our first priority is to get a full band together. Once we get that we’ll work at it full-time. We’re pushing for another full length.

Frazier: We’re looking for a bassist and basically anyone who can sing melodies and stuff. I’d like to keep playing and keep writing.

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Who do you hope to work with in the future?

Frazier: If we get a producer, I would love Mark Hoppus, or another record with our old producer. We wouldn’t want someone to who would change our music and who we are. Or Will Yip, he’d be pretty cool.

Mullinax: I’m not sure, I haven’t really looked into a producer. If Mark Hoppus hit me up. I would love to. I want my songs to be mine, nobody else’s.

Are there any bands or musicians from Virginia, or from surrounding areas, that you think people should check out?

Mullinax: KILL LINCOLN, they’re a good ska band from DC. TIMES NEW ROMAN, they’re from Southern Virginia.

Frazier: THE OCCUPANTS, THE ODDITIES, LIKE YOU TO ME, TOY STORE RIOT, IN COURAGE. We’ve mainly played mainly in Maryland, and we’ve met so many people. Also, DON’T LOOK DOWN and THE ELEVENTH HOUR.

For more updates on RANDOM HOLIDAY’s tour schedule and upcoming releases, visit their Facebook and Twitter.



Winchester, VA is home to a variety of great bands, including RANDOM HOLIDAY and another up and coming pop punk band known as DON’T LOOK DOWN. The band consists of vocalist Matt Breeden, guitarists Joel Flores and David Chen, drummer Nate McDowell and bassist Tom Graham. The band members met while attending Shenandoah University, and formed initially to enter a campus battle of the bands in late 2011 . There they found remarkable chemistry with each other and formed friendships based around a love for music. I recently had a chance to talk to Flores about the beginnings of the band and where they are heading next.

After your first show at the battle of the bands, what was your first move as a band?

Once the band was official, we immediately began writing songs. We took our winter break to get together a selection of songs we enjoyed playing that had the most meaning to us. When we returned to campus after break, we emerged with a rough but honest demo titled North Loudoun and a blueprint for the bands direction.

What can listeners expect from North Loudoun?

Well we have been playing as many shows as we can get our hands on and trying to get our name out there. We recorded North Loudoun, which can be downloaded for free on our Bandcamp page. Each member brings their own experience, expertise, and influences to this band creating a very unique combination of elements in every song. These songs are drawn from personal experiences, and the honesty of the music shows through with every track.

Where is that blueprint leading you next?

We just finished recording our latest single “Who You Are”. We are also working on getting more shows and branching out of Winchester and out of Virginia to other states. Mostly we are just excited to be making music and making new friends at the same time.

“I may be down but never count me out, as long as I’ve got my best friends” pretty much sums up DON’T LOOK DOWN’s brand of smart, heartfelt, energetic pop-punk. For more updates on DON’T LOOK DOWN, like their Facebook page and be sure to keep an eye out for new music and shows from this great group of musicians.



Based out of Winchester, VA, RANDOM HOLIDAY has been causing quite a stir in the Virginia pop punk community over the past year. At the core of this band is the duo of Michael Frazier and lead guitarist Noah Mullinax. Together, they have formed one of the best up-and-coming bands in the Commonwealth. Earlier this year, they signed to Third Time Lucky Rekords, and they haven’t even graduated high school yet. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Mullinax about the successes of RANDOM HOLIDAY and where they are heading next.

What is the story behind your band’s slogan “Keepers of the Fap”?

I will give Mike credit for that one. He likes to fap a lot (laughs). We thought it was pretty catchy and that it would sell. We currently have it on shirts, and we are looking into getting flags made.

RANDOM HOLIDAY has had multiple lineup changes, but you and fellow guitarist Michael Frazier are the only remaining original members. Please describe your relationship together and how you guys make it work.

Mike and I started the band freshman year of high school, and the other guys we were with at the time had a change of heart. It’s been really tough to keep the band going, but Mike and I really see things eye to eye. Since it’s just the two of us, we can make decisions a lot easier. Honestly, the way things are now are the best they have ever been. I think people can see that we work well together, and we have been getting songs done much quicker for our new record.

Do you plan on adding more permanent members to your lineup?

We are planning a big summer tour, and the two guys that go on tour with us will hopefully become permanent members.

How does it feel to be signed to a record label and touring the United States before you have graduated high school?

It’s really crazy, you know? When we started the band it was my personal goal to get signed to a label before we graduated, and I am really glad we achieved that goal. I never expected that we would have grown as a band as much as we have since then. There are not many bands our age that are doing what we have done. I’m really proud to be a part of it, and I am sure Mike would agree.

Are you guys going to college or are you going to pursue a full-time career in music?

It’s still up in the air. We both plan on applying to college, but no matter what we decide to do, we still plan on staying together and touring as much as possible. If we do end up going to school, we will use whatever breaks we have to make more music.

Next month you will be releasing a split with BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES. What can your fans expect from that record?

We are very excited about the split. We have been working on it for a while. I think people will really like it because our side contrasts with the unique, softer side of BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES. One of the songs on our side will be called “Where Things End” and the other track is still untitled.

On your last record, you recorded a track featuring Aj Perdomo of THE DANGEROUS SUMMER. Will there be any more cameos on your split or on your next record?

We’ve talked about it for our next record but not on the split. We have had a few big names in mind, but we can’t say anything yet.

How do you feel about the Virginia pop punk scene?

I think Virginia pop punk bands are often overlooked even though there are a ton of great Virginia bands. The Maryland scene is so much bigger, Northern Virginia bands don’t get much recognition except for bands like COWABUNGA and LET’S BE HONEST. Some people even don’t recognize us as a Virginia band right away because we play in Maryland more often, but we are very proud of our fellow Virginia bands.

Do you have any more announcements for your fans?

We are releasing our debut full length this winter, and we are really starting to develop our own sound. We have been writing nonstop since last May, drawing on influences from TITLE FIGHT and BALANCE AND COMPOSURE as well as indie bands like BRIGHT EYES and BRAND NEW. We are really excited to see what people think of it.

For more updates on RANDOM HOLIDAY, follow them on Twitter and be sure to pick up their split with BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES next month.