Skyward Story's Aaron Talks Upcoming Tour

Skyward Story's Aaron Talks Upcoming Tour

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Following the release of their debut album, Reborn, pop-punk band Skyward Story is hitting the road. In the past year, they've toured with The Ones You Forgot, Rookie of the Year, and Vans Warped Tour. Even while they're on the road, Aaron O'Connor (vocals), Scott Montgomery (guitar), and Brandon Millman (drums) are still working on new music for their dedicated fans.

Catch Skyward Story on their West Coast Tour this March! If they're not playing near you, you can request a show here. Vocalist Aaron O'Connor gave us the inside scoop on Reborn and on what a Skyward Story tour is like.

Odyssey: You guys worked with Matt Squire, producer for Panic! At the Disco, One Direction, and more. What was it like to work with him? That must've been a really neat experience.

Aaron O'Connor: He's a really chill to work with. He really pointed us in the right direction – it was a nice process. We didn't feel at any point that we were overstepping our bounds with him. He's more like a friend than a producer.

O: How did you guys get in contact with him?

AO: Before I was in the band, Scott [Montgomery] and Brandon [Millman] were doing some sort of showcase. I'm not exactly sure the details, but Matt was at that showcase and saw them play and thought that they had what it takes to be produced by him. So, they talked to him after the show, and then next thing you know, Reborn is getting made.

O: What made you release the singles from Reborn in the order that you did?

AO: Well, "Hey!" kind of sets the tone from what the older music under the other name [3PM] sounded like versus what we're trying to go for in terms of new music. And also it's called "Hey!" So it was kind of our way of saying hello, new music. And then the other singles we kind of just picked on our own because we all liked the songs equally. We had our choices for which ones we thought were the better ones. We did a whole campaign around "Smile" actually. I think that really boosted its listeners.

O: Tell me more about the "Smile" campaign!

AO: So we printed out a bunch of sheets that say "What Makes You Smile?" And we were having fans write down what makes them smile on the sheet of paper and then sending it into us. We put the photos together in a collage, and then made a video around the song. It's basically a bunch of pictures of fans holding signs saying what makes them smile. And then we went around Baltimore, where we live, and we brought those signs with us. We went up to people on the street and asked them what makes them smile, and we made another video out of it.

O: Are you guys excited about touring the album?

AO: We're doing a West Coast tour for the full month of March and it's going to be nice. We just toured with Rookie of the Year in December and we toured with The Ones You Forgot in January.

O: What would you say are some of the biggest challenges that you guys face if you're going on a tour for an entire month?

AO: So, this is actually going to be the longest tour we've done. Sleeping in the van is pretty expected. We don't spend extra money on hotels and stuff just for the simple fact that we don't have it. Eating can be a challenge sometimes too because you don't want to spend all your money on fast food, but, you know, you have to eat. But other than that, we have a pretty good time on tour. I mean, you got to make sure you show up to the venues during loading. Be nice to have a sound guys, be nice to the lighting guys.

O: Do you have a favorite memory from touring?

AO: The Ones You Forgot were just fun to be around. They're happy-go-lucky. They were keeping everything positive and we were having a great time pretty much every day. We have fans that will bring us a little gifts and stuff, and that's always nice. Having fans at our shows in general is probably my favorite thing.

O: You guys are really grateful for your fans. I appreciate that a lot.

AO: Yeah! They're great and they're funny.

O: What are some examples of funny gifts that you've gotten?

AO: They're usually food related because we like to eat. They'll just bring us things that we randomly say on our social media one day. I remember Scott said something about Oreos, and then at the show the next day, two fans brought him Oreos in the same show.

O: That's crazy. I love that. What are you the most excited about for tour? Like seeing your fans and playing the new songs from Reborn?

AO: I'm definitely excited to play some of the songs that we haven't played yet. At this point, it's only a couple. We're really just itching to play nothing but new stuff. And I think for the next tour, that's definitely what we're going to be doing.

O: What kind of vibes are you mostly drawn towards in music, either in yours or people you look up to?

AO: I have a pretty large metal background, but changes depending on my mood. Right now, I've been listening to a lot of psychedelic rock, like Pink Floyd and Grateful

Dead. I'm just a fan of music that makes you feel, and I know it's broad, but you know, you sometimes you'll hear a song and the lyrics are great, but just something about the songs just didn't really sit well. I think the vibe that we want to go for is music that you hear and you're like, "I don't know what it is, but damn, I feel that one in my chest for some reason." We're not going to like take a backseat on lyrics or anything – it'll be paired with that.

O: Who was your biggest influence on Reborn?

AO: Mine was probably 5 Seconds of Summer.

O: Old 5SOS or new 5SOS?

AO: Probably old 5SOS. We had been sitting on this album for a long time and our tastes have changed over time. So. what we wrote then is just like…obviously we love it still, but it's just like a tad different than what our new music's going to sound like. The 1975 is going to be a huge influence to us [for future stuff]. I love Bruno Mars, Charlie Puth, and all of that metal stuff and psychedelic rock. And we have pretty large pop punk influences in our lives. So, I think whatever going forward that we do is going to be pretty interesting. I love Reborn, but I'm ready to keep going! We've been working consistently over the past little while on some new stuff.

O: Are you guys the kind of group that never really stops working even after you released something?

AO: Oh yeah. There's not really a whole lot of downtime, because there's a lot of backend stuff we do that no one sees or even thinks about. And then we have even more work to do because when we released that stuff, we've got to talk about it and make sure people don't forget about it – we've got to hype it up. It's just kind of an endless stream of work. I love it.

O: If there was one thing that you wanted your fans to take away from the album, whether it be lyrically or vibey or just conceptually, what would that be?

AO: We definitely wrote it with the intent of the listener. I would want the listener to take away, you know, that that things can be bad, but you've just got to keep smiling on through it – hence the song "Smile." You've got to keep trucking along, because you're going to run into a lot of obstacles in your life. But if you let those obstacles overcome you, then that's when things started going bad. But look at us! I mean, things go wrong for us left and right behind the scenes, but we are still here. And we are going to keep writing music for you.


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Bethel Church's Gay Conversion Program Is A Huge Problem And We're Not Talking Enough About It

Religion doesn't give us a right to purposefully abuse a community.

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About a year ago, in May of 2018, Bethel Church in Redding, California came out publicly against a set of proposed laws which would make it illegal for a licensed mental health professional to perform 'conversion therapy' in order to change the sexual orientation or same-sex attractions of a person. The head pastor of the church asked for members of Bethel Church to act against the three bills (California AB 1779, AB 2943 and AB 2119), urging them to contact their congressmen and ask for them to prevent the laws from passing, all in order for them to continue their harmful ex-gay ministry.

Today, Bethel Church is under scrutiny for the role out of their ex-gay conversion initiative, CHANGED. The website of the initiative movement claims that any change is possible through Jesus, and encourages those who identify as LGBTQ+ to abandon the "pain, rejection, and despair," of being LGBTQ+. (CHANGED website). This movement is not the first, but just the next in a long line of organizations claiming to provide change for those who identify as LGBTQ+, despite this being an impossibility. Ex-gay programs, in actuality, only serve to push those who go through them farther away from the love of God.

Conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people has been proven not only to be completely ineffective but has also been found to cause intense mental issues and in many cases, a strong correlation to suicide. Those who have gone through ex-gay therapy programs such as Exodus International or Focus on the Family's Love Won Out have admitted that even after successfully completing the program they had not experienced a change in their same-sex attraction. The founder of Exodus International even claimed that by his estimation, 99.9% of those who had gone through his organization's therapy had not experienced any change in their orientation. Exodus International was considered intensely controversial, and their methods considered by most, if not all, mental health professionals to be incredibly damaging. Those who come out of conversion therapy experience intense feelings of depression and often experience a lack of self-worth.

As a Christian, I grieve every single time someone claiming to believe what I do comes out and condemns the LGBT community. It hurts to see one community I am a member of being hateful towards another community I am just as proud to be a part of. This news stung a little harder because I for a long time have loved Bethel Church's worship band. Their songs have spoken to me in ways I cannot fully describe, helping to bring me closer to the God I believe in. A God who I can say for certain would never advocate for something as damaging and destructive as conversion therapy. The same Jesus who Bethel's songs worship is the same Jesus who calls us to love everyone. Bethel Church is not following this call, and it is important that we speak out against conversion therapy, and not allow our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to carry out such a harmful program.

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Home is a COIN Show in Atlanta

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Indie pop band COIN is known for their ability to foster a sense of community in any city they step foot into. Their show in Atlanta was no exception, which was clear to any passerby near the Buckhead Theatre on Wednesday, February 6. A line of fans wrapped around the building as far as the eye could see - some had been there as early as 4 am. Lead singer Chase Lawrence was especially excited to be back in Atlanta. They played Buckhead Theatre a year earlier, but this time around, it was completely sold out.

Chase Lawrence in Atlanta

With the 2017 release of "Talk Too Much" from their most recent album, "How Will You Know If You Never Try," COIN began to rapidly gain popularity. Each single that followed proved their lyrical and musical talent. Following HWYKIYNT, COIN has been releasing newer singles, the most recent one being "I Want It All." This tour has been all about showing fans the meaning behind COIN's upbeat, indie-pop sound and helping people feel at home. The phrase "Home is a COIN show" is popular among their ever-growing fanbase. In Atlanta, COIN proved this phrase to be true. Four Atlanta fans spoke about how much this show meant to them.

Joe Memmel in Atlanta

How did you find out about COIN and what drew you to them originally?

Burnie Stone: I found "Fingers Crossed" on an 8tracks playlist back in late 2015, and I liked their sound so much that I looked them up on Youtube. Eventually, I just added their entire first album to my library, and then "Talk Too Much" dropped, and the rest was history.

Savannah Halberstadt: I found out about COIN when I saw them open for the 1975 in Knoxville a few years ago. Their energy on stage [was and still is] absolutely astonishing. I had never really fallen in love with an opening band before, but I completely did that day.

Chase Lawrence in Atlanta

What is it about COIN's music that made you continue to listen? What led them to becoming one of your favorite bands?

Brittney Clark: COIN has a sound that is very different than a lot of artists you hear today. Most of their music is very upbeat but their lyrics hold so much meaning.

Rachel Cummings: No other music has impacted me the way COIN's music has. It's hard to put into words, but their songs mean so much to me. Screaming lyrics I love as loud as I can is an indescribable feeling.

Burnie: I'm extremely picky with my music taste. If a song doesn't capture my attention within the first thirty seconds, I usually skip away, which is honestly kind of harsh on my part. But it was never like that with COIN; I was hooked from the very first note. Something about Chase's voice, and how it blends and layers so well over their beautiful instrumentals... it's hard to put into words. I'm never bored listening to their music, even if it's a song I don't particularly like—there's always something, a bassline or melody or a lyric, that makes me want to scream and sing along.

Chase Lawrence in Atlanta

How is a COIN show more meaningful from other concerts you've been to?

Burnie: I've never seen a band perform with the same energy COIN does. From the second the lights dim and their walk on music starts, to the very last note, it's mesmerizing. All four of them work so well on stage together, completely in sync and having the times of their lives. I live for the glimpses of Ryan's smile when he's playing drums, or when Joe laughs at everyone on barricade for making faces at him. Their passion is exuded through their music, and their performance. Not to mention the way Chase breaks down the boundaries that exist between the barricade and the stage, flinging himself at the audience every chance he gets. This sense of urgency he gives off, this sense of "this show isn't about me, it's about you, all of this is for you," I haven't found it anywhere else. There is no show like a COIN show.

Brittney: COIN never fails to bring a smile to my face during their performance. You can easily tell how happy they are to be on stage performing their music. Every show I've been to, I can easily say how they strive to make everyone feel loved and at home. There's always so much emotion and happiness that you can always feel throughout their performances.

Savannah: There is nothing like a COIN show. Everyone there is family and it really shows. Chase works so hard to make everyone feel so loved and appreciated. Chase is the kindest most incredible person I have ever met and that's a fact. I'm sure he is tired of hearing it by now but I genuinely mean it with every fiber of my being.

Chase Lawrence and Ryan Winnen in Atlanta

How do the band's fan interactions make you feel?

Burnie: Oh, I love them. It's my favorite part of the show. Chase is really good at making you fall in love with him: he dances and jumps across the stage, grabs fans hands and pushes the mic towards the crowd like we're the ones putting on the show. It's these little interactions that make me think of how much they care.

Rachel: The guys really do an incredible job of interacting with their fans. It means so much to me that they continue to come out after shows and talk to as many people as they can. It shows how much they truly care about all of us. They don't have to stay out there late talking to us; they want to and it's amazing.

Chase Lawrence in Atlanta

What is it about a COIN show that gives you a sense of community?

Brittney: The Atlanta show in particular really meant a lot to me. Over the past couple of months, I've been mentally struggling for a lot of different reasons. But getting to come to this show with my best friends and seeing COIN put on yet another incredible show, brings me so much happiness. I've realized how much COIN has truly changed my life for the better, and I'm so beyond thankful for that.

Savannah: A COIN show is home. It doesn't matter what happened that day or any other day - all that matters is that moment and the music.

Burnie: It's the people and our love for the band. There's this phrase that people like to throw around a lot, "home is a COIN show." If any other band were to try and use this phrase, it wouldn't work, and I would honestly snort and dismiss it. But for them, it works. It perfectly describes what it's like to be surrounded by your friends, celebrating the love you have for each other and the music being played. Those few hours I get to spend on barricade, laughing and singing at the top of my lungs, pressed shoulder to shoulder with the people I treasure more than anything else... there's nothing else like. Nothing at all.


COIN's Paradise of Thought tour continues until March 1st. If you missed them at a city near you, don't worry! This summer, they'll be hitting the road with Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums. Buy tickets here.

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For the full gallery of photos from this show, click here.

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