CLIFFHANGER is a Chicago pop punk band that got their start back in 2012. They went on to win Ernie Ball's Battle of the Bands, earning themselves a spot on the 2015 Van Warped Tour. Following Warped Tour, CLIFFHANGER, the former lead singer decided to go in a different direction. Having no desire to give up their passion, the band pushed on and added long-time friend, Evan West, to the group. The band released "Barbed Wire Bat," their first song with their new singer, just this March. Their new EP "Old Wounds" is coming out for release October 13th!
You guys got to play the Vans Warped Tour, what was that experience like for you?
Playing Vans Warped Tour was an absolute dream come true for all of us! We all grew up going to Vans Warped Tour every year, so when we found out we were going to play it, we were in disbelief! Many of us had been playing in bands with each other for close to 10 years at that point so it was really awesome to see all our hard work pay off as we got to play there! The entire day flew by so quickly, but it was great to be surrounded by so many familiar and new faces!
We remember trying to be very prepared for Vans Warped Tour, but one thing we didn't think of what how we were going to transport our gear from the parking lot to the stage. We saw so many bands with dollies that would carry all their gear, but we ended up carrying all of our stuff one by one! By the time we were done unpacking, we were drenched in sweat, but stoked to play. We would love to do it again!
How'd you guys come to the decision to add Evan West to the band?
After we played Warped Tour, our previous singer decided to leave the band. The rest of us didn't want to stop playing so we wanted to find a singer who would mesh well with our sound and was a cool guy. We ended up reaching out to Evan to see if he'd be interested in trying out for the band.
We already had a lengthy history with Evan. We had played shows with bands/projects that Evan was in dating back to when Cliffhanger released our first EP, Just Ignite. His solo acoustic act, Heading West, opened for us when we had our Cut The Ties release show. He also filled in on bass when our bassist wasn't able to make a show. Evan also used to go see our drummer Mike's old band "One Cord Short" back in high school! He's been around us forever and we're glad we're finally able to make music together and have him in the band!
Evan, what was your reaction to being asked to join Cliffhanger?
I was pretty surprised, excited, and humbled. I had been between bands for some time and wanted to do more than just solo acoustic shows, which was my focus for the past couple of years. I missed the chemistry of being in a band, as well as the and charisma energy that you get to emanate on stage.
To tell you the truth, I was a little intimidated at first. I really enjoyed the band's catalogue before I joined the band. I wanted to be sure that I could hold it down, while offering something new to people, and ultimately feel like I can exceed a standard that may be held by existing fans. I'm really proud with how all of these tracks came out, so I'm really eager to get them out and show people what I've got.
Your new EP "Old Wounds" is coming out this week, what do you hope fans take from these tracks?
We really hope that fans will enjoy these songs and will share them with their friends. It's a bit of a different direction for us compared to our previous releases, so we hope they enjoy Old Wounds as much as the older material. We're very proud of these songs and hope people can relate to the lyrics. A common theme to these songs is having too many backstabbers in your life and trying to put them in the past and move on with your life.
We also hope our fans enjoy Evan's voice! We've previously had 2 high pitched singers and Evan's voice is a lot deeper, so we hope people welcome it! We also hope that all the kids can piss off their parents when they blast it! We also want the dads to secretly love it.
What song did you guys enjoy writing/producing the most?
It's hard to narrow it down to only 1 song. Each song on Old Wounds has it's own story on how it came to life. First, in January 2015, after we release our 2nd EP, Cut The Ties, we wrote Barbed Wire Bat. This was one of the first collaborative writing efforts for one of our songs and we were extremely happy with how it turned out. A lot of thought went into the lyrics. When we recorded it, there was a construction crew outside the studio. After we spent some time setting the drums and doing 2 full drum takes, the construction crew blew out the power and we were unable to continue doing drums for that song. Luckily, our drummer Mike is a beast and was able to record what was needed.
Lost Cards was another song that we really enjoyed writing. This was a huge collaboration between the band. We wanted to write a fast catchy punk song that had the energy of songs off of Dude Ranch. We experimented with a lot of different lyrics in the song and different ways to arrange it. We kept making improvements on the song up until the day we recorded it. This song turned out to be a band favorite and we recently filmed a music video for it which should be released later this fall or early winter!
Chicago Sunroof is another band favorite mostly because it's very different than the rest of the songs on Old Wounds. The introduction has dual guitars going with simple notes, but then crescendos into so much energy! A lot of inspiration for this song came from the character Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Our lead guitarist Dan recently graduated from law school and was very excited to write some lyrics for this song.
EW: I enjoy how cathartic the writing process can be. I always feel connected with angry songs like Seventy Times 7, that sugar coat nothing and don't beat around the bush and are super straight forward. These songs, especially Dead Weight, sort of provided me with that sort of emotional release. Writing these tunes were a healthy way for all of us to get some stuff off our chests.
Do you guys have your sights set on touring soon? Ideally, who would you hit the road with?
We have our sights set on hitting the road doing weekend runs around the midwest. We've been talking about it for a while now and with the release of Old Wounds, we want to expand our reach and meet our fans in person already!
We have our Old Wounds release show on October 21, 2017 with amazing Chicago bands: Davlin, Fiction, and Lightweights at Downstairs Subterranean.
We also want to continue to spread the word about Old Wounds and meet as many people from playing shows in Chicago and on the road!