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Skytown Riot Soul_Or_System_EP_COVER copyTuned-in ears and dropped jaws are becoming a familiar sight to Knoxville, Tennessee natives Skytown Riot. The anthemic, alternative-rock band has cultivated an exciting sound ready for epic amphitheater performances, garnering them comparisons from Muse to Coldplay. Showcasing enduring melodies, masterful riffs, pulsating percussive beats, and ethereal key tones, they aim to explore the spectrum of emotion and thus, the human experience. “People don’t often expect to hear arena-rock in these smaller clubs,” explains Van, the ensemble’s guitar-wielding vocalist. “But the way I see it, we’re just dressing for the job we want.”
The four-piece outfit began to take shape in 2010 when high school friends, Jimi Judiscak (drums) and Van Gallik (lead vocals/guitar), started playing in a band together post-college. Soon after they found their bassist Jason Gostkowski with the help of a well placed wanted ad on Craigslist. The three began playing together in a different band that eventually came to an end. Still wanting to create together, the trio formed a new group, Skytown Riot. They rounded their new sound in 2011 with the addition of Cody Hensley on keys, in lieu of searching for a lead guitar replacement. Which they’ve stated was their “Best. Decision. Ever.”
Skytown Riot got to work carefully crafting and perfecting their opulent sound, demonstrating their sensational musicianship and composition in their new EP, ‘Soul Or System’. Their music is designed around the spirit of theatrical live performance that will most authentically reflect their head-turning stage presence. The band teamed up with producer/mixer Mike Dearing at HiFi Studios in Knoxville to capture that in their latest 6-track effort. They displayed a natural progression to their musical experimentalism, pumping in new energy through unexpected genre combinations. With mastering done by Spectre in Seattle, and guest appearances by cellist Cecelia Miller, Skytown Riot’s ‘Soul or System’ EP (due out November 19th) is chalk-full of undeniable hits.
Having already shared the stage with bands like Filter, Hoobastank, and Halestorm, it’s clear that Skytown Riot is already on their way. The bands most recent single, “Runaway Princess,” has become infectious among video-gaming YouTubers, as a go-to soundtrack for fan-made battleground videos. The fellas are capturing everyone’s attention and these new, near perfect tracks will undoubtedly keep their momentum rolling.


We were fortunate enough to interview the band :
If your music was put to a motion picture, what kind of scenes do you think each of your tracks would portray?
Man what a great question! The intro of Sensational has a particularly ominous feeling to it. Those first 30 seconds would be great in a war film that opens with a Pearl Harbor style assault. You see shadows of bomber planes crossing an ocean and expect to hear the rumble of old propeller engines. But instead you hear that calming piano melody, and soon enough all hell breaks loose (and musically this is where the piano shifts to synth).

Misbehave probably belongs in a chick flick. Guy meets girl, girl falls in love with guy. Guy turns out to be a douche-bag, cheats on girl. Scene where guy cheats on girl = Misbehave.
The Afterglow should end up as the theme song for the next super-hero TV show on the CW network. Or in a trailer for the next Superman movie.
House of the Rising Sun would obviously go well in a NOLA based film.
Runaway Princess is a hard one to place. It might be well suited as background music during a car chase, or even just something playing on the radio.
Soul Or System would be great in a Sci-Fi movie. Pick an epic scene and throw it in!
Which musicians/band do you think have had the most influence in your songwriting technique?
We all grew up listening to a lot of classic rock, so bands like Pink Floyd, Queen, ACDC, Zeppelin, and The Who helped shape our tastes in music. When it comes to songwriting it’s hard to pinpoint any specific influences. Although it would be fair to say that we occasionally attempt to put a modern spin on that classic rock sound.
In 2010 you released a video for a track titled ‘Thunda’ and I’ve found mention of a Album titled Alone With the Sky from 2011. Are those going to be re-released?
Probably not. Thunda is about the oldest song we have, and it’s a lot of fun to play at shows, especially for fans that have been with us since the beginning. There’s always the chance that it could appear on a record at some point down the road, but I’m sure it would sound a lot different by then.
The EP we did in 2011 is something we’d rather forget exists. We hadn’t really released anything but demos and singles up until then, and kind of threw it together just to get new music out there. Of course since then we’ve had a lineup change and most of those songs have been scrapped.
Can you shed a little light on the /underlying story behind the track ‘Runaway Princess’?
So there’s this particular type of girl. The spoiled-rotten, Daddy’s little princess type. We’ve all met her. Completely self involved, she’ll make a huge mess and expect you to mop it up. This chick is a lost cause with a trust fund, and although she may not deserve a song, we decided to give her one anyway.
Now that Soul or System has received resounding praise, do you feel additional pressure when writing the next album?
Yeah in some ways we do. We apply the pressure ourselves to always improve as musicians, songwriters, and ultimately entertainers. And there’s a quote from (arguably the best movie ever made) Tommy Boy that is fitting here. “You’re either growing or you’re dying. There ain’t no third direction.” We aim to grow.
Are there any moments away from the band that you feel the need to listen to your own EP?
Not very often, but that’s probably because the record is still so new, and over the past few months we’ve really worn it out just via circumstance. We’ll end up listening to it with friends or other people that are curious about the EP, and of course we’re always working to promote the band and our music. I guess the better way to answer that question is that we don’t often have moments away from the band!
I read that the album artwork was completed at the last minute. Tell us about the concept of the album artwork and why you chose it. What was the alternative?
We knew that we wanted the album art to be simple, eye catching, and really play off of the title of the EP. The concept we arrived on was that the human experience, the struggles and conflicts we go through, they’re all in your mind. We wanted to find a way to visually express the question of “soul or system?” Van (who completed both the photographic and design aspects of the cover art) worked on various drafts of this final version, experimenting with different models, different variations on this theme. The design was submitted for production at the last minute because it took that long to get it just right, and of course there was the music end that required a lot of focus at the time as well.
What musician would you like to trade places with for one month?
Melissa Etheridge. Two birds, one stone: find out what it’s like to be a successful musician, as well as what it’s like to be a woman (but only for a month, and with no risk of having to sleep with a dude).
What are your current/previous day jobs?
Van – Photography, Moving/Relocation Services, Music Instructor

Jimi – Bartender

Cody – Glass/Insulation Installation

Jason – Nurse

If being in a band was not an option, what would be your dream job?
Professional street namer. Or maybe a wildlife photographer.
What are some other independent bands people should be paying attention to:
The Hollywood Kills, Andy Wood (not a band, but an incredibly versatile talent on guitar, about to release his second solo album), The Resolute, Far Far Away
What should we expect from the band in 2014?
More shows (and bigger shows) than we’ve ever played, and hopefully we’ll be able to at least get started on the next record. So far we’ve learned to expect the unexpected in this business, so honestly there’s no telling what will happen!



Thanks so much guys! I’m sure we’ll all be hearing a lot more about you guys.




Skytown Riot interview

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