On one of the final days of their Mixtape Tour, Sami Marshall had the pleasure of chatting with Tallahassee’s Brightside when they made a stop in Jacksonville, Florida at the Murray Hill Theatre.
The guys talked about practicing more than their songs on stage, turning fans into friends, and tour plans that could only happen with a time machine. You can check out the full exclusive interview below!
To hear more from Brightside you can purchase a CD here.
Infectious Magazine: How are you guys and how has tour been so far?
Dillon Jordan: We’re good and it’s also been good. It’s been a lot of fun traveling around, playing a show every night for a little while. The shows have been great.
Jake Long: The road has been better than expected. We’ve been stuck in the van, but probably the favorite of our road trips has been the drive from Nashville down to Atlanta. Going through all the mountains and stuff that we don’t usually get to see. We just got a new van, so we’re trying to pack everything in so we wouldn’t have to get a trailer. We’re a little bit more cramped than we imagined we would be, but it’s been awesome.
Connor Holcombe: I’ve liked it a lot because it’s not been a just a couple of bands that we’ve been on the whole thing with. We’ve been doing each section of the tour with different bands. We played a date or two with Stages and Stereos, who are from our hometown. Now we’re doing this run with Colours and Flipturn. We did a little bit of it with Sleeptalk and DBMK. So there’s been a bunch of different bands that we’ve gotten to play with, which is always a lot fun.
Will Dunaway: It’s also really exciting for me because I’ve enjoyed seeing a lot of new venues. We all go to a lot of shows and we’ve played a lot of shows as a group, but for me this was the first time I’d been to the venue in Nashville. And the same with our show in Atlanta. And it’s my first time at Murray Hill in Jacksonville. We’ve played a couple of venues that we’ve played before and were familiar with and we’ve played some places we have never been. The tour itself has been going so well and everyone is having a lot of fun.
IM: You guys called tour The Mixtape Tour, which I think is so clever considering the amount of bands you have included on it.
CH: That’s what we were going for!
IM: How has it been having pretty much a different lineup every single night?
DJ: It’s been cool having different bands every night. Everybody’s style is a little bit different. Each show is different than the next. It’s nice to mix it up and see who does what.
CH: We’re learning a lot from all these bands, too. Every different band that we’ve played with has had a totally different style, which I think is really interesting. Stages and Stereos is very old school pop-punky style where it’s just them and their instruments and they talk to the crowd really casually. That brings a really cool vibe to the show. Bands like Colours, it seems like they have every second of their set planned out, so it’s a totally different vibe show. But there’s a lot to learn from both styles.
IM: You guys have given fans a bit of an insight into who you are by posting short intro videos on YouTube and your socials, but I feel the best way to get to know somebody is through their music choices. So if you guys were to put playlists together that would define each one of you, what would be on them?
Cory Clark: It’s funny that you said that because on our Spotify we each have playlists. We all have different tastes. I personally like The 1975 and LANY. Connor is way into Jack’s Mannequin.
DJ: I grew up listening to a band called Anberlin. I was big into Owl City. I grew up with a little bit of everything. I was a metal kid for a couple of years. We all kind of like some similar bands too. We’re all into The 1975 a little bit.
JL: I’m the one in the band who is into the boybands. I love One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer. Will is into anything you’ve never heard of.
WD: I’m all over the place.
CH: Yeah, like the band on his shirt. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them.
IM: (looking at The Beatles shirt Will is wearing) Nope, I never have!
WD: They put out a really great album called… what’s that say?
JL: Abbey Street.
WD: Abbey Street? No! Abbey Road! But really, I listen to anything.
CC: If the chords don’t sound good, but they work, he likes them.
CH: I like Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness a lot because he’s a big influence to me with the way he writes piano parts. I like Mayday Parade a lot. But my recent obsession, Cory actually turned me onto him, is Alec Benjamin.
IM: I’ve never heard of him.
CH: Oh my gosh, you’ll fall in love in a second if you’re anything like me.
IM: You guys are from Tallahassee and good majority of the shows you play are Florida-based. What makes the Florida music scene so special to you guys?
DJ: It’s home. We all grew up in Tallahassee.
JL: Dillon lived in Orlando for a while.
CC: Everybody just knows everybody. Everyone in Florida goes super hard for music. I feel like the Tallahassee scene is super awesome. Everyone chills out and hangs out and has a good time.
JL: It’s also cool to get to see our family when we’re here. Anytime we go down to Orlando we get to stay at Cory’s aunt and uncle’s house, which is super fun. Getting to see all the different band member’s family close to this area is nice.
CH: We stayed with Dillon’s uncle yesterday in Gainesville. We stay with my aunt and uncle or grandparents or any of my family that lives in Tampa.
JL: We stay at my house when we’re in Tallahassee. (laughs) It’s cool in Florida because we have so much family that’s close to here too, so not only do we get to go out and see our fans, we kinda get to visit family at the same time.
IM: Over the past year you guys have toured with and shared the stage with some big bands – We The Kings, Senses Fail – and even played Warped Tour in 2015. Through those experiences, including the tour you’re on now, what’s one of the most important or valuable lessons you guys have learned?
CH: Do anything and everything you can to be respectful of the other bands. One of the biggest things that doesn’t get talked about much when you’re not in one of the bands is being very mindful of your set time. Don’t play too long because you’re dragging into someone else’s time. Make sure you’re quick on and off stage.
CC: That’s a big one that our manager drilled into our heads. We rented out a venue in Tallahassee just to load gear on and off. It’s a good way to piss off another band if you take your time getting off stage because the other band is ready to go and they want all their time. We’ve got it down to a 5-minute tear-down.
DJ: Just like you want all your time, so you want the band before you on and off quickly.
WD: Which is also why it’s really tricky because it’s really easy to get sort of caught up in how exciting it is for you. I know for me, for a long time, I was just really excited to be up on a stage and play a show and hang out with my friends playing music. It’s really exciting and awesome, but it’s really easy to then forget that there are sometimes 3 or 4 other bands on that bill with you. If you’re just focused on yourself the whole time, then it’s great for you, but you’re inconveniencing a lot of other people. It’s an easy way to get a bad reputation. And that could cost you opportunities down the road, so it’s just better to be respectful and mindful.
IM: You guys are the first band that I’ve talked to who have taken the time and practiced their tear-down. So that’s really cool.
JL: We also had to practice Tetris with our gear.
WD: How long did it take the first time we practiced that?
CC: Like 7 hours. Once we got it figured out, there’s only one way everything goes in. It literally fits to the door with like a half inch to spare.
CH: Wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling. Every inch of space is utilized. It’s crazy.
IM: You guys have it down to science!
CH: I feel like that’s the really part of being in a band. It’s not writing or playing music. Its loading gear. (laughs)
WD: It’s the logistics, yeah.
CH: That’s the stuff that really makes a band more than the music and performing.
JL: All the bigger bands that we’ve played with have been a really good example of just being cool and down-to-earth, too. A lot of people don’t get to see that side of those bands. But We The Kings, for example, they were super cool and hung out with us. They thanked us for being on the tour, which was crazy because we were sitting there thanking them for giving us such a big opportunity. It’s helps us, I’m sure in the future now, when we get their popularity we can do the same for other bands.
IM: Any other lessons you guys have learned?
DJ: Be respectful of each other too. You’re not just putting 6 dudes in a van, it’s 6 different lifestyles and personalities. It’s fun and it’s cool, but it’s also work. You’ve gotta make sure you don’t step on anybody’s toes.
IM: Going back to this current tour, with it’s ever-changing lineup, if you guys could put together a dream tour, who would you want on it?
DJ: Not me so I could watch the entire show. That’s probably the real answer.
JL: I’ve always wondered what our stuff looks like to other people. We’re always up on the stage so we could never hear what we actually sound like.
IM: That is really strange to think about.
CH: So like all-star tour? Any bands?
IM: Any band!
DJ: Taylor Swift.
CC: Justin Bieber. One Direction reunion tour.
JL: Yeah we gotta get One Direction back together. Without Zayn!
WD: Yeah, but they have to happy about it too.
JL: No, I don’t care if they’re happy.
CC: And we’ll be opening it, of course.
CH: Give me Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness and I’m happy.
WD: Can we put Snarky Puppy in there?
DJ: I would want the band Barenaked Ladies, for sure.
IM: Are they still together?
DJ: They are, but the one singer’s not in it. The one with the goofy voice.
WD: Fetty Wap. Journey.
DJ: I’d want to see them. Fetty Wap and Journey.
IM: That would be a great combination!
DJ: Maybe the weird fun answer would be us at different points in our lives playing a different set. I’d want to open for us 30 years from now. Old us, and then kid us.
JL: Us 10 years ago opening for us now.
CH: All of our different high school bands.
DJ: Just a time-traveling frenzy.
JL: That wouldn’t be a very good show.
CC: It would be a lot of fun though.
JL: We’ll stick with the Van Halen, Fetty Wap, Journey tour. I think people would enjoy that a lot more.
WD: It’s one or the other.
IM: I mean those sound equally great.
CH: Have a 35-band lineup.
IM: Yes, like Warped Tour, but one stage.
WD: Oh gosh.
IM: You guys have a pretty strong connection with your fans, and you can see that with the support they gave you when you were crowd-funding Heart Science, as well as everyday interactions on social media. Why is that connection so important to you guys?
DJ: I think it’s better to be a human in a band versus this kind of image of a thing. People go, “Oh this band is too big to talk to their fans and I don’t like that.” I’ve never liked that. Growing up going to shows I’ve always liked being able to talk to the bands I was going to see. And when they were a little stand-offish and tired or acted too cool to hang around, I always thought that was kind of lame. When people were interactive and fun and silly, I was so much more ecstatic.
CC: We can’t play anywhere unless we have fans. We’re nothing without our fans. We wouldn’t be playing here tonight if we didn’t have fans. They got us to where we are.
JL: And our fans our hilarious. They’re the funniest. They’ve become our friends too. It’s nice. We’ll go back to a city after we haven’t been there for a while and we’ll catch up with those people. They’ll be tweeting at us all the time. We know a lot of them, even though sometimes we are really bad with names. It’s nice to catch up with those people and be able to count on seeing them when we go back to those cities.
DJ: I think the silliest moments for me are always when we’ve already met the people we are going to see that are coming to hang out and I totally blow it. I’m like, “Hey, I’m Dillon. Nice to meet you.” And they’re like, “Oh we met at Warped Tour.” I’ve made a point in the last year to really try to remember everybody’s name. I write it down or write something about them that you remember. That way, when we go back to those cities, we’re not just this band guy going, “Oh who are you?” again.
CH: So much of our set is interacting with the crowd. We spend a lot of our set getting people to sing with us or getting them to jump with us. I think we put a lot of effort and time into thinking of ways we can get the crowd to be a part of the show, as opposed to just us performing and them watching. We want it to be this whole experience for everybody. I know I always have more fun at shows when they’re encouraging me to be a part of it.
WD: I think that comes back to what Dillon was saying. We’re fans of other bands too. You think about all the moments where you’ve met someone in a band that you really like or when you went to see a band that you really like. You remember the things that stood out to you; you remember the moments where you got to talk to the drummer and he was really cool. Or the stuff during the set where the band had everyone jumping up and down and singing a part along with them. Those are the parts that always, I think for all of us, have been important moments. Now that we’re in a position where we’re up on stage, it’s cool to give that back.
IM: I like that fan dynamic that you guys have. Do you ever feel like that connection is going to be harder to maintain down the road?
CC: Absolutely. We can’t talk to everybody. We try, we do our best. If someone reaches out, we respond. But there are going to be times we can’t talk to people or we have a super busy schedule. I feel like we’re going to try to keep up communication.
DJ: We’re never going to stop trying.
CC: There is going to be a point where we can’t talk to 30 million people.
CH: Let’s hope that’s an issue.
JL: You all who know us here at the beginning, you guys are going to get top priority.
IM: Going back through your socials, I saw that it’s almost been a year since you premiered “AEIOU.”
CH: Oh my gosh, has it been that long?
IM: Yeah, it was like August, I think.
CH: You know how parents say they feel so old when you mention how old their kids are? That’s me right now.
IM: You have a one-year-old almost!
CH: Oh no.
IM: Looking back on this past year, what’s one of your favorite moments or highlights?
CH: Oh I’ve got it for sure, at least relating to “AEIOU.” It isn’t released yet, but we have a music video coming out for “AEIOU.” For me it was really cool. We went back to the elementary school that Cory and I went to. We went to the same elementary school apparently, didn’t know each other back then. Cory was a couple years behind me. We may have met at some point and didn’t know it. We went back there and we filmed part of the video in that school. We had a class full of kids. So for me, that was super cool getting to go back there and film a video there. They were all super excited for us to be a part of it. The same music teacher that Cory and I grew up with was there and helped us out with it. Seeing her still be there, that was so great!
JL: For me, it definitely had to be the We The Kings tour. That was so much fun. For me, I compare the adrenaline rush I get when I step on stage to when you’re out playing a sport. It’s a little bit of the same feeling. I get nervous in front of really tiny crowds. So 3 or 4 people, I get more nervous than I would in front of 3- or 400. Whenever we played on the We The Kings tour, we were playing sold out crowds every night, which is great. I felt so at home. I love being able to scream at a crowd. That was awesome! That was definitely my favorite part of the last year.
DJ: Hearing “AEIOU” on the radio. The first time it aired was dope! It was just surreal. There’s that one, and then there was just listening to the radio on my own in my car and then the guy comes on and says “This song is Brightside ‘AEIOU.’” And we had nothing to do with it, they just put it on. Unintentionally catching yourself on the radio.
WD: I have a really small one that I’m not sure why it was as cool as it was for me. I was just driving in traffic one day and saw a car with a Brightside sticker on it. For us that’s not super uncommon because we pass out our stickers everywhere. That’s one of our biggest things. We give out business cards and stickers to everyone, everywhere, all the time. So I saw this car with a sticker on it and thought “Oh cool, I probably know them.” Because, for the most part, it’s been friends and family. I pulled up next to the person and I had no idea who they were. That was a turning point for me realizing there are more people now that hear our music and like us enough to put a bumper sticker on their car. I don’t know about you guys, but for me that’s a big deal. If I put bumper sticker on my car it’s because I really really like whatever it is on that sticker.
CC: I have my own drumstick line and I’m sponsored by cymbals.
IM: What! That’s so cool!
CC: When you go to the music store and buy any drumstick, it’s usually a signature musicians stick and they have their signature printed on them. So I have a deal with Regal Tip. My signature is on it and it says Brightside. And I play Bosphorus Cymbals. They sent me a bunch of cymbals and a whole box of sticks.
WD: And free hats!
CC: A bunch of dope hats. That’s something that doesn’t happen to everybody. It’s so awesome to see my name on their website with my picture and my band’s name.
IM: What’s next for you guys after this tour?
JL: Another tour!
CH: We’re going to be shooting another music video. “AEIOU” isn’t even out yet, but we’re shooting one for “Again & Again.”
IM: Two of my favorite songs!
CH: Heck yeah! Those seem to be the favorites right now. So that’ll be a big next step. As soon as one tour ends, we start booking the next. Which gives us a little bit of time off in between.
IM: Is there any final comments or info you’d like to share with our readers?
JL: Thank you! Thanks to you for doing the interview. Thanks to our fans for continuing to support us and come out to the shows. Just thank you overall!
WD: Follow us on Spotify. And Apple Music. And Twitter. And Instagram.
CC: Go illegally steal all of our stuff and give it to your friends.
DJ: Listen to it and tell your friends.
WD: Burn copies of it and hand them out.
DJ: Buy it or don’t. But at least listen to it.
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