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INTERVIEW – Nick Gross of Open Air Stereo, May 2013

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I stole a few moments from drummer Nick Gross of up-and-comers Open Air Stereo…

ToddStar: Nick, how are you today?

Nick: I’m good man, how’re you doing?

ToddStar: Good, good. I really appreciate you taking time out for us today.

Nick: Hey no, thank you guys man, it’s good to be talking about it.

ToddStar: Well, I’ve been listening to this thing since the publicist sent me over a watermarked copy to check out, and I’m loving this thing, man. What can you tell us about the album that somebody listening through the first time or two might not catch or might not grasp the importance of?

Nick: Man, I guess the… I don’t know, I’d have to say that I guess this album has just been a compilation of like the bands for the past like eleven years, believe it or not, because we’ve come through so many ups and downs as a band. We started out as thirteen/ fourteen year old kids starting Open Air Stereo and putting Laguna Beach together, and started writing songs together for our first album that we put out in 2005 on our own independently, which was a long, long time ago and definitely we’ve built up different sounding material since then of course, but I just have to say, you know, we were signed to Sony Epic when we were eighteen and nineteen years old, coming out of Laguna Beach, we did a show on MTV called Laguna Beach that spawned us getting signed to Sony Epic, and during that time we pretty much wrote a lot of music during that time, some of which is on this album that we put out, that’s coming out in May, and then a lot of new stuff that we just wrote within the last six months. So its half and half of music that we just recently wrote, and half music that we’ve been wanting to put out a long, long time ago when we were with Sony Epic but never got the opportunity to. So I guess it’s kind of… it’s been a long journey to put all this stuff out that we’re finally doing.

ToddStar: Well it’s… and it was in one of the press releases, it just talks about evolution, and I think from the beginning of the disc to the end of the disc you can even sense some of the evolution in the sound in that… in my mind you lose some of that pop sensibility and turn more into a rock vibe as you move through the record.

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Nick: Yeah, for sure, and that’s pretty much what I mean when I’m trying to describe all of this to you, is that evolution of what we’ve been doing the past, you know I would say, we’ve been in the band for eleven years but we’ve really been writing songs for an album for the past six years. So it has been an evolution, and actually you know the more rocky stuff was written back in the Sony Epic days, and I think more the stuff… you know the single that we’re putting out, called Stuck on You, and a song called Damned, and another song called Where Do We Go, and a song called Love is Blind, are all songs that we wrote in the last six months. So I think those songs represent more of where the band is going in terms of its’ sound, and sonically, but I think that some of those other songs that I didn’t mention are songs that were written five or six years ago that we had always wanted to put out but never did, so that’s why they made the record. So yeah, it is an evolution thing and we’re excited about this new Stuck On You sound that’s going to spiral into the next record, I think. It’s a good representation of us all and it’s going to spiral into the second album.

ToddStar: You mentioned Stuck On You, which like you said, is going to be the first single, which I love, but the song in my mind that stands out as a stellar track is Damned.

Nick: Yeah, for sure, we love that one. We wrote both of those songs with an amazing producer named Peter Stengart, and like many of the songs on the record we love to co-write and we’re really open to co-writing with people. Marty Fredrickson we co-wrote with on the record, Mike Platnikov, a guy named John Inglesby, and also Peter Stengart. So Peter and us, we wrote the last four songs that are on the record, Love is Blind, not the last four track listing on the record, I mean the last four that we wrote for the record. And yeah, Damned happened to be one of those songs, and we loved Damned. That’s one of our favorite, I guess, Stuck On You version of rock I guess.

ToddStar: Yeah, in my mind it kind of encompasses all the sound you guys have thrown at the disc; you’ve got the piano, you’ve got just a bass line that doesn’t give up, the drummer is allowed to act almost as a soloist at times with the kick and everything else. It’s something where you guys have really encompassed your sound in one song.

Nick: For sure, exactly, and that’s what I mean by that you know? Definitely, we love it as well. We’re excited about it and we’re debating what song we want to put out second as far as the single goes, and Damned is definitely a contender for sure.

ToddStar: Living Proof is another favorite  I really dig the sound of that. I think it’s got a cool vein that I think comes from where you guys kind of grew up in, you know, the whole Foo Fighters, Rage era. How much do you think your writing and your, I don’t want to say your playing, but the way you play has changed from the time you were that thirteen year old listening to the Foo Fighters?

Nick: Writing? Oh man, so much. When we were younger, back in 2005 when we put out that first record on our own, we were so heavily, heavily influenced by Incubus, by you know, Rage Against the Machine, all that kind of stuff, growing up in that era and just kind of, you know you can hear it in the music/ it’s just extremely influenced by it and we’re the first to say that we’re actually influenced in our music. Even now we have so many influences that we look up to and we’re not scared to say that because I think it’s so important to have those and know where the goals are and know who your influences are when you put out an album. But I mean writing has changed so much. I think we were influenced back then by their music and tried to sound specifically like it, but I know now that we’ve all grown up and we’re now all twenty four, twenty five years old; we’ve been writing for other band’s projects and other things like that, so we’re writers on the side of not doing Open Air’s journey. I run a recording studio called Star’s Enterprises in Hollywood, and I have a production team here and we write songs for other people’s albums and other people’s records, so it’s really expanded my mind in terms of just writing capabilities in general, so I just think we’ve all developed as great writers over time and have been able to kind of morph a more unique sound for Open Air Stereo that time, as being writers for other people’s projects and stuff like that, and especially for Open Air Stereo, knowing more of where we want to go direction wise. Back then we were just so heavily influenced by our influences that we didn’t really have a unique enough approach to it, I guess. But now I think we do.

ToddStar: Well like you mentioned, the album drops May 21st on Goomba. How does it feel to know that the eleven years is paying off and you guys did the self-release, but how does it feel to know that a label is going to do this, and standing behind you guys, really believes in you guys?

Nick: Yeah, it’s so awesome. Goomba Music have been amazing. All those guys over there are so awesome and they’ve really given us a lot of creative control and creative freedom over this album, and even the way the album looks and graphically, we’ve had a lot of creative control over what we’re doing right now which is super, super cool and something I have always wanted to do and we had a great experience with Sony Epic but unfortunately when we were with them they were going through so many ups and downs from a label’s perspective, and we lost a lot of our team over there that was supporting our record before it came out, so we never got to put it out under that major label system, but we were lucky enough to get all the rights back to our music that we’d written during that time, and fortunately get to release it with a new independent label that’s been offering us a lot of creative freedom, which has been awesome.

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ToddStar: That’s awesome. I dig the album, I dig the single, and I mentioned the other songs I really like, but when can we here in Detroit and across the rest of the world expect to hear some of the stuff live?

Nick: Oh yeah, absolutely, we’re trying to lock down a tour right now, knock on wood, with Candlebox. They were a big band back in the nineties, and still are a very big prevalent band. But Candlebox, the lead singer Kevin is a good friend of ours. So we’re trying to lock down a tour with them in June and with those guys, and so we hope to hit the United States definitely this summer, all around touring and into fall we’re trying to lock down an amazing tour for fall as well, to support the record.

ToddStar: Well other than Candlebox because you mentioned them, and they’re friends, if you guys had to pick some bands to go out on tour that you think complement your sound and that you think you would complement, who would you love to see Open Air Stereo go out with?

Nick: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. I would see us going out with like, you know, Oasis meets Switchfoot, meets Imagine Dragons, I guess currently you know, I see us sitting in that realm of the Oasis guys, if they were on and kicking, or Imagine Dragons, or like a Switchfoot, I think they’re similar bands that would sit with us.

ToddStar: Now that you made that comparison, if you had to describe the sound, not necessarily through comparison, but just other genres or whatnot, someone who had never heard of the music from Open Air Stereo, off the new album, Primates, how would you describe your sound?

Nick: I would describe it as progressive pop rock music. Progressive being the important word in there because I don’t like to think that there are limitations on a specific genre that we can be. I know the record is super rock driven, pop driven, but I don’t think there should be specific genres like in bands and music. I think that’s the cool part about Open Air Stereo that our music is progressive and this album might have more rock songs than our second album. Our second album might have more electronic stuff involved than our first did. So I just think a progressive pop rock band is what Open Air Stereo is.

ToddStar: Cool. If there was one piece of music in the history of time, Nick, that you could say you had written, played on, or just been in the room when it was recorded, what would it be?

Nick: That’s such an interesting question, it’s such a good question.

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ToddStar: Thanks.

Nick: I don’t know! It’s such a crazy question, I have to think about that. There is so much that comes to mind. I don’t have one specific thing that I wish I was on. To be totally honest I’ve never thought about that, so I don’t want to throw something out there that I’ll be like oh, that doesn’t make sense. I’ve never really thought about that to be honest, there’s so much stuff.

ToddStar: Sure. Well who made you pick up a pair of sticks and want to play drums?

Nick: Blink 182 did, for me personally growing up as a drummer and you know, I picked up the drums when I was six years old and I’m twenty four now. So I was a drummer in the nineties I guess, when Blink 182 was coming up and Travis Barker was always a big influence for me personally, just because of his passion not only for his drums but the other things business wise that he does in his life and, you know, I’ve got a lot of other things personally that I do other than Open Air Stereo in the music realm of things, and in the fashion realm, and all kinds of stuff. So I look up to him in that way too, for sure.

ToddStar: That’s cool. Well you’re a young guy, you’ve been playing for three quarters of your life, you’ve been in this band half your life and, so I’m going to ask you, according to Nick Gross here at twenty four years old, what’s the meaning of life so far?

Nick: Man, the meaning of life for me quite honestly is persistence and passion and commitment. That’s what I’ve learned most about life and most about achieving I guess the goals that you want in your life, and especially as a band. Setting out with a goal in mind and being persistent about it and being passionate about it, because without those things I don’t think you can get there and get to your goals. Open Air Stereo has been kind of a passion project and its been me really working hard to develop it as a brand, you know, I want Open Air Stereo to be a brand that people recognize and people respond to, and I think those are the biggest three keys to the success of that.

ToddStar: Awesome. Well again, we really appreciate you taking time out, I know it’s a busy time for you guys, you’re getting ready again…

Nick: No thank you man, we’re really excited to do all this stuff. We love talking about it and thanks so much for having us and doing that whole thing and writing up for us.

ToddStar: Well we’re excited, again, this thing drops on May 21st on Goomba, Primates by Open Air Stereo. Can’t wait to let the rest of the world hear this thing.

Nick: For sure my man.

ToddStar: Alright Nick, thanks a lot for your time.

Nick: Todd, thanks so much.

Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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