At The Skylines Talk "The Secrets to Life", Movies, Legendary Ancestry, and More
Fri, 20 Jul 2012 10:25:10
At the Skylines Videos
At The Skylines reveal quite a bit on The Secrets to Life.
The Southern California group fuses tight, tough, and taut metal with entrancing vocals courtesy of Chris Shelley. The songs bristle with infectious and inimitable charisma. At the same time, there's a much deeper meaning to everything, and that not only separates At The Skylines, it makes them one of the most thrilling heavy bands out there. Find out why on The Secrets to Life.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, At The Skylines vocalist Chris Shelley talks The Secrets to Life, books, his legendary ancestors, movies, and so much more.
What's your take on The Secrets to Life as a whole?
About half of that album was pre-written. When we worked with our producer, we tweaked some stuff. A lot of that music stems from our roots. We've been playing some of those songs for a few years now. They mean a lot to me. As for the new songs and the album as a whole—including the bonus tracks because I love those—I'd say if listeners who have never heard us before were to listen to the record from front to back, they'd know everything this band was about. If someone who genuinely loves music sits down with the booklet, reads through it, and listens to the album how we made and recorded it, any question will be answered. There will be no more skepticism, and hopefully we will have earned a new fan.
What's the story behind "Hush"?
We wrote that in North Carolina. I was thinking about how indirectly you may be with someone for a while and you'll open yourself up, let them in, and get to know one another. Then, another opportunity takes you somewhere else, and you have to spend time apart from them. It's a song I want people to connect with knowing we're all genuine people and we are all extremely dedicated to the band, our girlfriends, and whatever we do outside of the band. That song is our "anthem" of positivity saying, "I'm here. I'm going to fucking make whatever we're doing happen right now". I'm happy it's the first song because I feel like it hits the hardest, and it's definitely my favorite. Right before my part comes in, I want people to be like, "He is for real. He means whatever he is about to sing, and it's not some bullshit written part produced by somebody else".
Where did "Forgiveness" come from?
We probably wrote that over two years ago. I wrote the lyrics on the spot in the studio we were in at the time. I have a girlfriend. We've been together for a few years now. The first year was super rocky. I was going through my teen angst stages where I was just an asshole. I didn't realize exactly what I had. Over this year where At The Skylines had finally become a band and we were figuring out ourselves, we got into the studio to record this original EP. That's where I realized, "Shit, I'm in love. My girlfriend's real. I have to buckle down, quit being a fucking dick, and be professional about things whether it's my relationship or the band". Yes, I'm singing about a girl. In time, a girl could be used as a metaphor for the entire song. I want people to listen to the sing and say, "Okay, this is the new age of what's going on, and I want to be a part of it". That song is completely different from everything else on the album.
Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs?
When I approach a song, I come at it with an outside perspective. I do like to write in metaphors, but I like to create a physical picture through words with a lot of my writing so people have something to remember and hold onto.
Do you read a lot or watch many movies?
I'm a super heartfelt person with a big heart. I take everyone's opinions and feelings into consideration. When I write my music, it isn't just for me. It's about the listener and what they're going to get from it. As far as my vocabulary goes, I love reading. I'm a huge movie buff. I don't go into reading a book or watching a movie just for the satisfaction of finishing it. I go into it with an artistic eye, and I dissect everything. I'm a picky asshole, but it's a good thing because it makes for better writing.
What books or authors do you come back to?
My great great grandmother is Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. Her husband was Percy Shelley, the poet. Growing up, I was super into poetry before I even found out my family tree. It's in my blood to make sure my voice is heard and I do it in a fashionable way. As far as reading goes, my tour manager and I went into the summer reading section of Barnes and Noble. I'd say John Steinbeck. I like Series of Unfortunate Events and Harry Potter. I just finished the Hunger Games series. I enjoy everything.
If your album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
I'd probably say it's a mix of Inception and the fucking Notebook [Laughs]. I don't know. Along with other guys in the band, I feel like kids these days aren't into original movies and original actors like Steve McQueen, Robert Redford, and Clint Eastwood. I grew up watching that stuff. I take influence from those sorts of things. Inception and The Notebook works.
What's next for you?
We recorded an acoustic EP before we hit the road. That will be released digitally. We did three songs off the album and wrote one song completely acoustic for the EP. We self-produced it. We went to Guitar Center the day before we went to the studio, dropped almost a grand on top of the line percussion, recorded all of that and we ended up returning it after we were done in the studio. There's no screaming. I rendered all of the screaming into melodies. It sounds so beautiful.
Have you heard The Secrets to Life?