Knitting Factory Presents
The Great Heights Band, Eternal Boy, Approaching Troy, Stringer, Automatic 253, My Kind of Fire
The Great Heights Band’s sophomore effort, rad-pop., is big and bold. The album, set to be released on April 20 via CI Records, brings together a diverse mix of pop, punk, nerd, and indie rock, with nods to a retro aesthetic and good old fashioned rock and roll. After touring for a couple of years on their debut LP, Song in Eastern Standard Timing (SEIST), the band wanted to follow it up with a record that was fun and eclectic, but also stood out on its own. “We honed the sound of this record by writing, demoing, and tearing apart dozens of songs and arrangements,” says singer/guitarist Neal Karkhanis. After demoing about 50 songs, the band fully recorded the best 18 before finalizing the album’s track listing at 11, with one bonus track each for CD and vinyl.
“rad-pop. is the first release from The Great Heights Band that I had a hand in writing from start to finish,” says singer/guitarist and producer Eric Taft, “and I’m immensely proud of it.” This album sees the band bringing in a wide range of influences from the likes of Weezer, The Cure, Gorillaz, Radiohead, ELO, and beyond. “The way Neal and I write complements each other really well.” Taft points to Karkhanis as “the wild and more experimental one and I’m the one that wrangles him back to Earth. We keep each other in check and it really makes for interesting and super cool songs.”
Tracking for rad-pop. began at Taft’s own Buzzlounge Recording Studio in Beltsville, Maryland soon after the release of SIEST in 2015. This same space has been used by legendary producers Brian McTernan and Matt Squire to record the likes of Panic! At the Disco, Boys Like Girls, All Time Low, Taking Back Sunday, and Thrice. With full control and no budgetary constraints Taft, with the help of Karkhanis, was able to take as much time as needed, giving every track and tone the attention it deserved.
In total, tracking rad-pop. took over a year of writing, rewriting, and crafting brand new sounds. The band has sonically pushed themselves further than on SIEST, with bassist Owen Brinser and drummer Paul Martinez playing an integral role in taking the songs, crafted by Karkhanis and Taft, to another level. The rhythm section grounds the melodies into grooves that are fun and fitting for each song. Songs like “Quicksand” and “Start” are rooted in rhythmic syncopation, with the drums and bass locking together as one. The dual vocals of Karkhanis and Taft have been refined to work in stronger tandem, offering listeners two distinct voices that equally have something to say.
“With so many songs to choose from, we were able to narrow things down to what we felt were the most moldable,” says Martinez. “Each listen through the songs we got more and more specific, trying different things and lining up the pieces to the puzzle.” Brinser feels “the songs have bloomed into so much more than they even were initially.” While each part is tailored to benefit the songs as a whole, Brinser believes “you can really feel each member in each section.”
Lyrically, rad-pop. is a huge step forward. Though some songs tackle the common themes of love and heartbreak, tracks like “Free” and “Straight to Hell” focus on larger topics such as environmental activism and political uncertainty. “Flutter” discusses hypocrisy in the age of social media. In all, rad-pop. is an album about growth, love, and finding happiness in a world struggling to find stability. It is fun and introspective, thoughtful, and tongue-in-cheek.
The Great Heights Band formed in 2014 and signed with CI Records soon after the release of their first EP, “Weird Thoughts”, and its hit single, “Portland”. The band has actively toured the US with bands including The Pink Spiders, Carousel Kings, and Icarus the Owl as well as sharing the stage with Andrew WK, Unwritten Law, Never Shout Never, New Politics, Bayside, and many more.