Texas natives Close Your Eyes are a breath of fresh air in every way possiable. Simply put, their music is fun, passionate, and thoughtful. Their unique brand of melodic hardcore/pop-punk gives each song that Close Your Eyes throws at you an air of fun and energy all at the same time. Their music is a perfect fix for anybody wanting to bridge into listening to harder music, or a lighter option for the avid “tuff-guy” listener. Add lyrics that do more than just touch on subjects of love and loss, and you have an amazing band with a very bright future.
Late into 2009, Close Your Eyes inked a deal with Victory Records (Between The Buried & Me, Comeback Kid, Emmure), and released their debut full-length through the label February 16th, 2010 (today). I was able to contact the band through their rep at Victory, and the following is my interview with vocalist Shane Raymond, and guitarist Brett Callaway:
ONE21: Tell everybody the story of Close Your Eyes
Brett Callaway- Well…the band started with just Shane and I. I had just moved to Abilene and thought “oh no I have moved to a cowboy town” I saw Shane at school wearing an As I Lay Dying t-shirt and so I went and talked to him. He told me he was a vocalist and so we started hanging out and trying to find new members. We finally got a full band together and about 4 or 5 months later played our first show. We do not have any of the other members that played that night with us anymore, but our line up is pretty solid. The member that has been with us for the least amount of time is our drummer, David, who has been with us for a little over 2 years.
Shane Raymond- Musically things have changed a lot from where we started. As with most bands, you have to have a period of experimenting with different sounds until you really find what it is that you say is “your sound.” It took us a bit longer than some bands, around two years. But once we wrote the song “Friends are Friends Forever” we knew that this was the style of music we wanted to be making. It just flowed out, never forced.
O: What would you say your sound is? Are there any other bands that have really helped shape what you guys are doing?
B- It is pretty hard to define our sound. We are a hardcore band with a ton of melodic elements. We have some parts that are pop punk, some parts that are infused with ambient guitar parts. But On the whole we just try to put as much passion into our music as possible and just put all of our energy into it. There are always bands that are going to inspire us, but we never sit down thinking I want to write a song like such and
S- There are a lot of influences on our music. Most of us grew up listening to pop punk and still do. Traditional punk hardcore is something that we listen to a lot as well. Bands like Comeback Kid, With Honor, Blink 182, No Use for a Name, Rancid, Agnostic Front, New Found Glory, etc. are bands that we draw influence from.
O: How did the deal with Victory Records come about?
S- Well, we got a call one day from Double J at Victory, saying that they really liked what they were hearing and wanted us to come out and play a showcase for them. So we packed up and drove to Chicago for the weekend. We played four songs for Tony Brummell and Jason and a few other people that we didn’t have the opportunity of meeting at the time. After playing, Tony came on stage and told us that he loved it, and we would have a contract to look over when we got home. He was a man true to his word. We returned home Monday to find a contract sitting in the inbox of our email account.
O: Let’s talk about We Will Overcome, what was the writing/recording process like for that album?
B- the way we usually write is that either Andrew or I will write something or at least part of an idea and bring it to the other person and work it out. Then we take it to practice and teach it to everyone else and work and mold it until we are totally happy with it. As far as lyrical themes usually we leave Shane to his own devices. Haha. Every once in a while I will write something before the song gets to Shane but I have not
written lyrics for an entire song before he gets to it in probably 3 or 4 years.
O: Were there any specific themes you guys were trying to communicate?
S- The album covers a lot of time in the life of CYE. There are songs on the album that we have had written for quite some time and have been already playing at shows. But the one thing that all of our songs have in common is the theme of hope. So often we as people find ourselves in situations where we feel that there is no hope, and that the struggles we encounter on a day to day basis will overwhelm and subdue us. We as a band will say that amidst this strife, even the fact that a person can take a breath is enough to say that there is hope.
O: We Will Overcome has a lot of songs about relying on friends and family, are you guys able to stay close with people even when you are touring alot?
S- Yes! Very much so! Our friends and family only continue to grow as we hit the road and go across the country playing in cities that we in CYE have only dreamed about visiting. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without its share of hardship. Relationships are forced to take on a different shape. Where most relationships depend on physical presence to fully mature and grow, that has to take a side seat to the emotional side of the relationship. Our families and friends are in our thoughts constantly, and we maintain a healthy communication pipeline with them through phone calls and text messages.
B- This is something that I personally struggle with sometimes. I think everyone that is on the road for long periods of time does. I miss my friends and family at home. That being said, we have amazing friends and family that are so supportive of of and that really helps us to keep going!
O: I know that you guys dont consider yourselves a “Christian band”, but faith seems to play a big part lyrically in your music. Especially on a song like “Arms Raised”, was the intention to talk about your faith specifically?
S- Yes, it was. We in CYE will never be able to hide who we are and what we have been blessed with. God has allowed us to do so much in such a short time that it still blows my mind to this day. “Arms Raised” is a sort of thank you. Everything that we do as members of Close Your Eyes will hopefully point to something that is far greater and more meaningful and profound than what we can be as human beings.
B- Yes, that song is totally a worship song. I wrote the intro of that song before the rest of the song was written at all. That song is for an audience of one in my heart when I am playing it. We do not try and hide
our faith at all. We are very open about it. At the same time we do not try and push it on anyone. We just try to live what Jesus says are the two greatest commandments, “Love the Lord your God, and love your
neighbor.” We desire to give hope to everyone we are able to connect with.
O: While we are on the subject, what is you view of “Christian music”?
B- This is a tough subject for me. To me it has to do with the heart of the artist and no one is the same. I feel like some bands use their “faith” to get ahead in the music industry. I don’t feel like Christ is something to be bought or sold or an avenue for advancement in business. That being said there are a lot of awesome “faith-based” bands out there right now doing great things!
O: Do you think the perception of faith-based music has changed for the general public?
S- I feel that has, especially in the ‘hard music’ scene. You are beginning to see more and more bands taking the stand of “Christian music” in recent years. I think that is due in large part to the fact that many people are beginning to move away from the presuppositions of past generations that tell us, “Worship music has a predefined shape, form, and implementation.” This is being left simply because we are starting to not put God into a pre-formed mental box of how it is that God can be praised for what God does. It is a dangerous position to find yourself in when you begin to claim how God can and cannot be praised.
O: Now speaking of music in general, what are your thoughts on the “modern age” of music, where Myspace has replaced plastering posters and digital music seems to be replacing physical CDs? Do you think these changes are positive?
S- In balance, it can be. Myspace Music and Digital streaming are products of instant gratification. And that can be a good thing. But we can never forget as artists, as well as fans, the roots of where it is that we have come from, and what has happened is that the roots of the music industry have been neglected. The industry was founded on people making records and selling them or giving them away in most cases just so the band’s ‘voice’ would be heard. Some might argue that digital streaming is another face of that. But more and more as artists we are seeing less ‘amazing albums’ and more two or three good songs that people will buy on iTunes.
B- I think it is something different. Not necessarily good or bad. One good thing is that there is more music out there for kids to grab on to and bands have an easier time getting their music to more people because of
tools like Myspace. I personally still buy physical CDs just because I like them better, and I like the whole overall experience. Also I know that most people do not care about this but a physical CD has a lot higher quality of sound than an MP3 or especially an MP4 that you download. When an album is mastered it is intended for a CD not to be compressed again into some other format. Instruments sit differently in the mix and vocals change when music is compressed into those other file types.
O: Whenever you guys tour, what are some of Close Your Eyes‘ traditions on the road?
B- One ridiculous tradition that we have is that we stop at every Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World that we see. That place is the coolest place in the world. Haha, I have never laughed harder than watching David try and climb all the way to the top of the rock climbing wall at one of the locations. We actually just got an XBox 360 to put into the car for while we are driving. I am not totally sure how that is going to work yet, but we are going to make it happen!
O: For anybody out there reading this interview and thinking about starting a band/music career, what would your advice to them be?
B- My advice would be just to be true to yourself and to work as hard as you can! Practice, practice, practice, and play as much as you can! Get out on the road! And lastly surround yourself with solid people that you can work with and be with for months at a time!
Visit Close Your Eyes‘ ONE21 Artist Profile for more info on the band, places to buy their music, and other artists you may enjoy as well.
Also don’t forget to go out and get Close Your Eyes‘ Victory Records debut, We Will Overcome, in stores NOW!