Skyline Interview

The Corner editor Thea A-L catches up with fellow eighth-grader Jackson Craig of the local band Skyline. Craig, along with two other GFS students and a student from another local school, have performed at school functions and students’ parties.

Thea: How long has [Skyline] been together and how was it formed? Jackson Craig: The band has been together for about a year and a half, a little more than a year and a half. We started in January of 2012, so yeah, almost two years. How did we start? We were all really good friends, it was me and Matthew Overholser, Graham Arms and Henry McDevitt. Henry and I both played guitar and we sang; we played together. And we said, hey we should start a band together; that would be really cool.

Do you all go to GFS? Mathew and Graham go to GFS. When we started I was actually at a different school, but we were still all friends.

What kind of band do you consider yourself to be, is it a specific genre? Yeah, I think we mostly play alternative rock.

What’s the story behind the band’s name? Rumor has it, it was almost changed. Yeah, I guess we were at summer camp, and we have actually gone through way too many band names. I don’t even remember, oh we started out as The Defibrillators (Ha!) and we played two shows as that. And then we said “we need to change this” and so we changed it to Skyline, just because it sounded cool and it’s kind of catchy and easy to remember. But after a month or two, we just didn’t really like it at all! So, we were thinking about changing it for a really long time and it never happened until this fall when we were like, we really need to do this before we actually put ourselves out there more. We spent a really long time trying to figure out what our band name will be until we decided on Fishdog. We told everyone that, and within a day or two, we got so many replies and comments online and so many people were like, “We don’t like that, no, just be Skyline,” so we’re Skyline for now.

So where do you play? Do you play somewhere else, you said something about being online? Yeah! So we, let’s see, we started off playing at school [functions] just because that’s where we could get known and people would…see who we were. After that we started to get a little bit more publicity from our friends, and people started to invite us to their parties to play. We have connections with a woman who works at the Chestnut Hill Teen Center. She does teen festivals and music nights, so we play there a lot. We have a song, the one single that we recorded: Splendid. Once we released that and put it up on iTunes, that’s when people really started sharing it around and we would start to get more parties and birthdays.

So do you have any places that you would play in school or not related to friends? Not at the moment, we’ve kind of set up some of our own stuff. We’ve played at fundraisers, and I think that’s about it. We’ve been asked, “Hey do you want to play at some festival,” but we’ve never actually done it before. 

So, do you have any musical influences, or something that inspires the music? For the song writing it’s mostly me and Gabe. We bring in lyrics, chord progressions, [and] we bring them to the band. And that’s mostly influenced by the stuff that we listen to, so some bands like the Arctic Monkeys, that’s a favorite, the Black Keys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers—we do covers of theirs. They kind of fit together with our own music. And I know that a lot of us, we like to go to concerts and see how people perform and see what kind of styles they’re using, and then we take away from that.

So how do you think you would compare to a lot of the teen music around now? There’s a lot of stigma. We’re trying to stay away from that whole, you know, Justin Bieber pop thing, One Direction, and the boy bands. They seem to be more focused on the entertainment and the fame rather than the music. I personally don’t really like the stuff that some of those bands put out just because it’s not fun to listen to for me. Our music, that we like playing, is rock and alternative, and usually the bands that play that nowadays are all guys or girls in their twenties or thirties. There is a new band of twelve- or thirteen-year-olds who play death metal (Ha!); they’ve got huge publicity from that because it’s so different. So I think that it’s cool that if we play stuff that you wouldn’t expect your average fourteen-year-olds to be playing, it’s a little different, it grabs your attention.

Where do you think you want to go, out of school, away from friends and that kind of thing; is fame something or is it really…
(oh, like what’s next?)
yeah, or is it really personal?
We’ve had discussions about this as a band; there are certain members who feel like what they really want is just to improve on the music and that’s really what they care about—you know, trying out different styles, exploring different realms of music, and it’s just about playing and having fun. But everyone has that, not like a need, but like they want to be known, you know? And they want to maybe pursue this as a living, become something out of it. But for right now I think we’re just trying to get a larger crowd.

And do you have any idea where you’ll be going next? Is there anything you want to do in the near future? Yeah, so right now we just finished recording an EP, so we have three songs that we just recorded. We just ordered CDs on Friday, we’ve got it all mastered and everything. So we’re coming out with that in December, and we have a release party, which is on December 12 in Mount Airy, and I think once we’re done with that, once we give it out to all of our friends, we want to start giving it out to radio stations and entering contests and just seeing if we can grow as a band musically, and with our fan base. Just ’cause we really enjoy performing.

About the song, Sweet Symmetry… One of our new songs on the album is Sweet Symmetry, and that’s what the EP is called. Gabe wrote the lyrics, and he brought it to the band. We’ve been playing it for a year now, and we just decided to really improve on it. And that’s the song that we’ve added the most into. We had the most fun recording it; we have piano and synthesizers and stuff and it’s all mixed. Yeah, I think that that’s our most advanced song right now, yeah.

Is there any background, or anything more behind that? I think that it’s a little different from our other music because Gabe has written different lyrics that all piece together and different songs that have an underlying story to them. So that’s kind of interesting that this is just one piece of it, but the lyrics don’t make much sense if you just hear the one song. So you’ll have to figure it out!

So, thank you. Yeah, thanks.

Note: This article has been condensed and edited for clarity. 

Image courtesy of Jackson Craig; from left to right; Gabriel Garcia-Leeds, Henry McDevitt, Jackson Craig, Matthew Overholser, Graham Arms