Band Spotlight: Against the Current

Girl fronted bands have been blowing up in the music scene over the last few years.  There is Paramore, The Pretty Reckless, Prvis, Echosmith, and now Against the Current.  Recently signed to the record label Fueled By Ramen (March 2015), Against the Current (ATC) is a three piece pop-rock band that consists of Chrissy Costanza (lead vocals), Daniel Gow (guitar and vocals), and Will Ferri (drums) from Poughkeepsie, New York.  Formed in the Summer of 2011 meeting through mutual friends and were originally a five piece band which also included Jeremy Rampala (guitar) and Joe Simmons (bass).  Ultimately, they have grown into the badass band they are today with a more enhanced musical sound, stronger stylized lyricists, and a fan base that I have watched grow on YouTube from a little over 100,000 to over a million followers.

In an interview with Maria Sherman the band stated that they utilized YouTube as a way to build their fan base outside of playing local gigs at pizza hangouts.  They were a band for about a year before ATC created their YouTube channel where they not only did covers of popular songs, but released original music.  The first cover they released was Good Time (Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen) as well as their first original Thinking.  Releasing both at the same time I thought was music business genius.  Fans of Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen searching online could come across ATC’s cover as well as their original music to help gain a new audience.

For the past four years ATC has done all the business related together as a team from packing up and sending merchandise, to spending a week to record and write in the studio to release new music for their fans.  The one support they have had before the label is a manager to helped book them all over the world.  For a band that just got a record deal in 2015 they have played sold out gigs in not only the United States, but in England, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Canada.  Now having a record label behind them they can focus more on their music as well as get a promotional push from the label to reach a radio level of success.

Their most recent EP Gravity has the potential to have radio hits, especially the song Talk.  Right now, the radio sound has been blowing up with 80s synth music (Taylor Swift, The Bleachers) and the comeback of electric guitars with groups like 5 Seconds of Summer and their 2014 break out hit She Looks So Perfect.  Chrissy Costanza has a powerful voice that has a range to be able to go from a hard rocker chick to a soft ballad.  Personally, I like her voice when it is on a bit of an edge.  The song Talk has an aggressive sound with the start of simple chords of a guitar and soft drum beat that explodes within the first twenty seconds.  Costanza’s ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude I think is the power every girl wishes they had when dealing with a boy that messing with their head; the younger generation has a great role model coming up with Costanza.

Against the Current’s push to go against the grain by releasing original music through YouTube along with covers gave them an edge in getting recognized by a label.  Their push to play outside their hometown, wanting the music to reach more than their inner circle coupled with the drive to do their music their way has a stead fast determination sure to take them far.  As their name is derived from the last line in The Great Gastby, “So we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past.”

Music Video for Against the Current’s Talk.  Click here for ATC website.

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The Power House That is John Janick

recordsBehind every favorite band their is an artist, and behind every artist there is a fan.  Fans are what drive the music industry’s success, but without the blood, sweat and tears of the artist the music would never cease to exist.  John Janick, current CEO of Interscope Records, started off as just a fan of music and rose to the business executive he is today.  In 1996, as a young college student at University of Florida in Gainesville, he started his own record label with Vinnie Fiorello (drummer/ lyricist) from the band Less Than Jake.  The clever man that Janick is, he named it after the one food that every college student eats because they are broke, and in his case really broke because he invested every last dime he had into the label.  If you guessed the food was ramen you were right.  The label is called Fueled By Ramen.  In 1998 the company released an EP that broke the success of the label by a little band called Jimmy Eat World from Arizona.  The success didn’t stop there.  In 2003, the label released an album called ‘Take This To Your Grave’ by a Chicago group called Fall Out Boy.  A few years later Janick and Pete Wentz (Bassist) from Fall Out Boy collaborated to start Decaydance Records (rebranded as DCD2 in 2014) which became connected with Fueled By Ramen.  Decaydance Records and Fueled By Ramen success continued by the release of albums by signed artists such as The Academy Is…(2004), Gym Class Heroes (2005), Panic! At the Disco (2005), and The Cab (2008).  After eleven years of success, Janick signed a distribution deal with Atlantic Records and moved Fueled By Ramen to New York City where it still lives today (1).  Even though Janick is now CEO at Interscope his legacy lives on at Fueled By Ramen where it all started with a kid’s love of music and a dream.  So don’t give up on your dream.  Continue to fight for what you want, and do everything in your power to build connections and knowledge.

Wanting to be involved in artist development, I am currently reading a lot of books on music business, reading liner notes from albums, and stalking music history of bands online.  I have come to realize that everything is interconnected in the music industry and that almost every band I listened to as a teenager, and in my early 20s was because of this guy.  So, I guess you can say that this post is a thank you letter to the man that is John Janick.  Thank you for caring enough about the music and not the money, thank you for understanding that an artist needs to be involved in all aspects of their identity to have success, and thank you for introducing me to punk inspired rock/ pop that put me ahead of the curve in college.

Click on Spotify Playlist for some of my favorite songs and artists that John Janick had a hand in developing and releasing as Co-Founder at Fueled By Ramen.  As Janick said in an interview for the book It All Begins With the Music, “No Food, No Sleep, Just Music.”

(1) All date information was found at www.FueledByRamen.com