Infectious Magazine’s Owen Paterline recently had the opportunity to chat with Stacked Like Pancakes to discuss Launch Music Festival, Brass Rock, Kevin Lyman and more. Check it out after the break. Don’t forget to get your tickets to their upcoming show at Ram’s Head Live! and merch here, and to help support their second album here.
Infectious Magazine: I am sitting with Stacked Like Pancakes from Towson, Maryland. Most of you guys have gone to school and been trained in multiple forms of music. How did you go from all these different styles, to becoming a ska band?
Darrell Reddix Jr.: Well the band was ska and then recruited outside of ska.
Kellen Mckay: That’s true! Actually we don’t attribute ourselves to the genre of ska, internally. I connect more to the idea that we are more of a brass rock band. I think our music, especially our first album which is the only one available to the public right now, is definitely influenced by ska. As well as the bands I was listening to at the time, Real Big Fish, Streetlight and so on. The sound has developed a lot. I am excited with what we have going on for the rest of this year, for people to join us on the idea that we are a brass rock band and not so much a ska band anymore, even though we will still probably always have those influences in our music.
As a brass rock band how does that musical training influence your music because Kellen I know you are a percussion major but, you play guitar and sing?
Darrell: He’s trying to be Dave Grohl.
Kellen: My knowledge that I have as a classical percussionist didn’t just come from my drum teachers. I took composition, dance lessons and vocal training too. All of it culminates to a better understanding music and better means of writing of good music. I can only imagine how stagnant and plateau-ish, which isn’t a word but it is now, our sound would be if I didn’t go to school and learn the things that I did, for four years and get a degree. I have liberties that I wouldn’t have had otherwise; to be a lot more creative, and take more risks and be confident taking those risks with writing music.
Mike Busch: With studying jazz performance it gave me the technical proficiency to do whatever I want on my instrument and translate that to this band, without being limited to a genre. Even jazz itself spans across multiple genres, so I can play that and use it for this group. As for the musical side and school, it’s the feeling that translates through the music. If it feels good people are going to like it. That’s something I try to do with this band and any music in general just try to play something that feels good to the audience and feels good to the band. It’s a combination of what I learned in school technically and what I learned in general musically.
Darrell: For me, when you study jazz it’s about playing the style. You have an authentic sound to it and having your own uniqueness from your background, but still having the sound that was presented to you traditionally for decades. It kinda carries over to Rock, just having that same awareness of what aesthetically is suppose to be in the music of what works and what doesn’t.
Andrew Baker: Its different for me. I got a degree in music composition with an emphasis in percussion. I play bass in the band and a lot of the stuff I play is based on theory for me. Everything else I got from a punk band I played in High School. You know, performance, moving around on stage, general showmanship. I didn’t learn that at school. I learned it from playing shows with a punk band, and a not good punk band at that. It helped me put together what I wanted to do with performance and when I started school I put that away and then Kellen called me in the middle of December, 2011. I was in Hawaii at the time and asked “Would you like to play in a ska band?” and I said sure why not? I thought I was filling in for a show and now I’m here three years later.
Kellen: You had service in Hawaii?
Baker: Yeah. they built a tower, it’s the only one.
Darrell: Kellen recruits everyone to join the band in December
Zach Foote: Mine was April, thank you!
Baker: You’re Welcome
How did all of you join Stacked Like Pancakes?
Zach: Kellen called and asked if I wanted to join and I said yes. It was really that simple.
Andy Dawson: For me, it was the day after the Ram’s head show. I knew Andrew was leaving the band so I figuratively slid my resume under the door. I got a call from Kara asking if I wanted to be part of the band and I said I would love it. Here I am three weeks later.
Baker: I was in Hawaii, I already said that. In all honestly, Kellen sent me a free download of “We’re Not Insane” and I heard Mr. Sane and I really didn’t like it. But little did I know, at the time the album was already out for six months and when I got to rehearsal for the next time that’s when I found out the line up change. That was a big change. If you want to talk about the line-up change in like ages of the earth, we just went through a mass extinction. Everybody was new, everyone came in and the first rehearsal blew me away. One of the first songs I learned was “It’s Too Late” and I was like, this is just awesome. Then we played “Mr. Sane” and I was like, I love this! I don’t know why I didn’t like listening to it because I loved playing it. It comes down to the growth and growth of the band. It didn’t sound bad, it was just young. In college, I was used to listening to refined and produced music; which distorted what I grew up with, punk. If I listened to “It’s Too Late” in High School, I would have thought it was awesome. It has horns, they have a nice grunge to them. Now we have grown as a unit and added people with the same beliefs and passions. We haven’t lost the grunge. We’re just professional musicians who know how to play a rock show.
Mike: I was sitting at a café practicing and Kellen just came up to me and asked if I wanted to play in a band and I was like, yeah. It was out of nowhere. So we exchanged messages for a bit and what struck me was how organized and the efficiency the rehearsals. Then I heard the music. I was drawn to it, I wouldn’t say I’m a ska fan but I liked the music that was being played. Two weeks later I was in the band.
Baker: Kellen can you tell your side of this story, because it’s fantastic?
Kellen: It was looming in my mind that I wanted to add a lead guitarist. I do not at all consider myself a lead guitarist. I sometimes think of myself as a guitarist.
Baker: You’re a frontman!
Darrell: He’s Dave Grohl!
Kellen: I walked to the lobby of the Center For the Arts building, to get to the café to get a Naked drink or something.
For the record, that’s a brand.
Darrell: It was actually a naked girl.
Kellen: Anyway I walk by this guy shredding on the top of his guitar. It’s not plugged into anything, he’s just chilling. It’s the music building there are a lot of people doing music related, often weird things. So I didn’t think of anything at first but after I got my drink I thought, wait I minute. He’s a guitarist. I need a guitarist. So I said screw it, walked over and asked him to join the band.
Baker: I love how you did not hear a single note actually played. Like; electric guitar, in the middle of a busy café, not plugged in. Mike I love ya.
Kellen: (Jokingly) I’m indifferent.
Zach: That was the most dramatic line-up change because everyone knew each other before they joined the band. We met at shows or in class but no one knew Mike. Kellen’s first words to this guy were “Join my band”.
Darrell: Kellen asked my brother to fill in for a show and he said “F#@$ No!” and I just quit my band so then I decided to do it. Then I thought nah, but I wasn’t doing anything else so I agreed and learned 20 songs in two weeks.
Baker: That was the Green Turtle Show!
Darrell: Yup, and then I subbed one more time before I joined the band. That was the last time I was paid.
Speaking of the Green Turtle, you guys have played arcades, restaurants, bowling lanes, What has been your favorite place to go out and play?
Zach: For me there are two different ones. Timeline, the arcade you mentioned, because I am a huge nerd and it was just cool to me. The other was Ram’s Head. It just hit me during load in because I knew it was going to be the most influential nights for the rest of my life.
Kellen: Here, at Launch last year. I was very emotional after we played. So many great things happened and so many great things have happened so far this year too. So we’re going to just keep coming back.
Baker: Same, Last year at Launch. It wasn’t just about the venue. We played outdoors, plugged into a building that we blew the power. Everything about it should have been a miserable show. But, it was who was there, the way we handled it, and we finished the set strong. We didn’t freak out about blowing out the power and everything that came from that set. All these bad things culminated into warped tour and rams head.
Mike: I’m torn. There are so many since I have been part of the band. Every few month there’s another show that tops the last and I love that feeling. I guess I would say Warped Tour because it started with Launch and then we did the Ernie Ball competition to get into Warped, and that whole day was just amazing. We got there early played, talked to people saw shows. It was an amazing time.
Darrell: Ram’s Head. Period.
Zach: Warped was the show that I realized I loved what I was doing. Ram’s head was the one when I realized I was going to love what I was doing for the rest of my life because it’s not ending anytime soon.
There was someone very special at your Launch show.
Baker: A few
Right there were quite a few but one in particular. Can you talk a little bit about Kevin Lyman (founder of Warped Tour) and your relationship with him?
Kellen: Yes, so we were watching the solo singer/songwriter before us and Jeremy Weiss (founder of Launch) walked by texting on his phone. He said “hey”, as he passed and carried on. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Jeremy and he said that he texted Kevin and he was on his way to see us play.
For the record, you had just met Kevin for the first time that morning at Launch.
And now he’s on his way to see you perform?
Kellen: Yep that’s it.
Was there anything specific that you took away from Launch last year or this year?
Andy: Yesterday, I learned how to be in a band and watch everyone else on stage. I learned what to do and what not to do. Learning both sides is just as important as one or the other. Today, being my first show I am taking in all the information I can get to be the best performer I can be. I have never performed like this before. I am a classical trombone player, I played in an orchestra, marched drum and bugle corps. I’ve never been part of a ska band.
Infectious and Kellen: BRASS ROCK BAND!
Andy: Brass rock band sorry! Sorry. I’ve never skanked on stage.
You will tonight!
Baker: Yeah you will!
Andy: I’ve never moved around so much while playing so this will be a cool experience to find out what to do.
Are there any important lessons you learned at Launch that you would pass on to other bands?
Baker: Do everything. Do everything this conference has to offer. Look it up before hand, learn about the people who are going to be here. Learn about the people. Every panel pretty much came down to that. They don’t want to be spoken to like they are the head of something. They want to be spoken to like a human being. They were something before being the head of Reverbnation or Force Media Management. They are here to help bands like us; that are starting out. But at the end of the day you can’t talk about business 24/7. They want to have real conversations with people.
Kellen: Talk about cats.
Baker: Yeah talk about cats. Everyone loves cats. It comes down to doing your research.
Kellen: The generation before us it helped having a demo in hand and begging these industry heads to give the CD a listen. But from what I have seen it doesn’t really work now. It works for us that we don’t have new CD’s to give to people in the first place, at least for now. They want to be polite and accept your offer but they also get these offers in 1000 e-mails a day. So if they are getting 1000 e-mails a day begging them to listen to music they won’t be too happy about doing that in person too. It kinda looked just weird, seeing people in almost desperation asking them to listen to their music. If you focus on you, then those opportunities for them to listen will happen naturally.
Baker: Let them come to you in a sense. If they like you they will find you.
Kellen: There is so much we still don’t know and we are still learning every day.
Zach: We treated these people as human’s last year. We didn’t shove a CD at them and walked away. We stopped and talked to them for fifteen minutes about cats. They remember us this year, even though we didn’t keep in touch. But they remember us for being us.
Darrell: Whatever you do leave an impression. Anyone can say that about anything in life. But that’s what life is. Leaving impressions, whether or not it’s being different, just leave an impression.
Is there a big announcement you guys would like to make?
Baker: For those who don’t know, we bought a gigantic crossword and are working on it.
Andy: Bakers actually starting a pancake shop.
Baker: Bakers gonna bake, bake, bake, bake.
Darrell: Was that a Taylor Swift reference?
Kellen: None of this needs to go into the interview…
Zach: Sorry we’re friends Kellen!
So is there something big?
Kellen: Yeah! We’re starting a Kickstarter to fund our second studio album (click here to check it out). It’s a Kickstarter for $10,000 and a portion of the money we raise will be given to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, to honor my sister who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2007. I wanted to combined a means of funding our album, which we are spending top dollar on to get the sound and quality that we want, with wanting to support a cause. We want to bring awareness to something people have heard of but don’t know much about. So yeah, Kickstarter.
How does your sister feel about that?
Kellen: She’s really excited. She was almost in tears and very happy that we are reaching out in this way to support those with Crohns.
What’s next for Stacked Like Pancakes?
Kellen: Ram’s Head loved us so much that we are going back in July. We’re playing with The Pietasters and our buddies the Evokatones. Both are incredible bands. That’s our focus in the next coming months and a dollar of each ticket is going to the National Autism Association.
You’re all about helping others.
Baker: We know that we are part of a world much bigger than ourselves. I’m in talks with Feed The Scene, which is a local bed and breakfast for bands that come through and tour Baltimore. I am working with them and trying to set up a time when we can go down one morning and feed people walking around the streets of Baltimore.
Baker’s actually going to bake. Speaking of you, Baker. What’s with the iconic pajama pants?
Baker: Honestly I just play every show with them. I have done probably only a handful of rehearsals without them. I showed up to the first rehearsal in Pajama’s and it’s just been my thing ever since.
Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Kellen: (Sarcastically) We have fans? Thank you?
Baker: Come out and say hi to us we love talking to people.
Kellen: We’re doing a lot in the next few months. Check it all out. This was really long. Thanks for reading.
Baker: Thanks for reading all the way to the end.
Kellen: If you read through this you are our number one fan or the poor person who had to write it up.
Kellen: Thank you.