What is your name and what do you do in Hit the Lights? Nick: My name is Nick Thompson and I sing in Hit the Lights.
How did the artwork for the new record come about? Nick: We knew we wanted something bright and explosive. We knew Kyle Crawford because he designs shirts for us from time to time and we loved his style. We told him what we wanted and he gave us the album art. Quick, painless, thank you Kyle for being so GOT DAMN talented.
Why did you name your CD, "Skip school, Start fights?" Nick: We bounced back and forth over album names and nothing hit us like we wanted it to. We wanted that shining moment where everyone's like "Yeah, that's the one" but it didn't happen. We were going to self-title it but it didn't feel right. Omar had this idea for bad advice on tee shirts and came up with Skip School Start Fights and we laughed. Everyone we brought it up to liked it so it kinda pressed us to go the route of memorable fun names over giving up our "Self-Titled" album. That one's usually the one where a band "Defines Themselves", right?
What is the song “Breathe In” about? Nick: "Breathe In" is about having someone in your life that you have to let go of for a while. You don't want to, but you know it's probably the best for yourself and them. I started writing a good skeleton of the song and Omar had that chorus that went awesome over it. The chorus lyrics are what open up the song a little more for interpretation. The song could be about a lot of things now, which I love. We tried to get a children's choir to sing the "Crashes through Crashes" part in the bridge, but we couldn't work it out in time. It kills me it didn't make the song. Fuck it, I hate that song.
How did the writing process change after Colin left? Nick: The only thing that changed about the writing process was that Colin wasn't there with his input. We still wrote songs the same, Colin just wasn't in the picture this time. I think if we had recorded the record with Colin still in the band it would have been a pretty different record, not as in the sound would be much different, but a lot of the new songs were influenced by the situation that we were put in and dealing with that. I think we got a much better record out of it this way.
Which one of the new songs was the first one that came about after the split with Colin? Thoughts on that?
Nick: I don't think any songs on the record are directly about Colin. There are definitely lines in the songs that reflect his situation, but we never wrote a "Goodbye Colin" song or anything. Dave wrote "Don't Wait" which was influenced by what Colin was going through so that can be attributed to Colin. The first songs that came about after Colin was officially done were Breathe In, Say What You Want to Say, Hangs Em' High and Back Breaker.
Why did you become the new lead singer instead of finding a new one? Did you guys try anyone else out? I know you asked Matt Flyzik to be the replacement, what happened with that?
Nick: This is honestly the very last thing that I would have thought I would be doing in this band. I didn't want to be a front man, I was perfectly happy with playing my guitar and singing back ups for the rest of my days, I think we all thought that the perfect person would show up and all would be well. We got so many people who wrote and sent stuff in, but we just weren't getting what we wanted. The day Colin quit we were brainstorming people who would be great candidates and Matty was one of the first we thought would be great to try out. We called him up, sent him the old demos and asked if it was something he would be interested in. He was on warped with All Time Low and we were trying to find a good time for him to come down. Eventually we kind of lost touch with him, we were still looking for people and he had an awesome thing going with ATL so I think it kind of fizzled. I think he was really torn between us and working with the ATL boys, which is a situation we never meant to put him in. We eventually moved on and decided that we would go with Rob, I would sing vocals and we would make the record that we wanted to make.
Is Kevin an official member? Where did you guys find him? Nick: Kevin who? Kevin Mahoney is pretty much part of the HTL family now. He's a terrible dude and I enjoy waking up to his smiling face every day. When he came aboard he was just going to be a touring guitarist. Adding a new member is a big effin' deal so we wanted to take it slow and make sure he wasn't a nice dude turned clepto/psycho(which happens a lot). You'll be seeing more of Kevin. Heck, maybe we'll even put him on our myspace page. You'd like that, wouldn't you Kevin?
Also, your old band, The Summer Departure, had a song called "This is a stick up, don't make it a murder" and that was the name of your debut full length. You guy also recorded the same song with Colin on vocals. I was wondering if there is any story behind that.
Nick: Actually, TIASU was a song I wrote right after TSD broke up. I recorded it for a project I was doing called Newyear. Only two songs were written for it and then I joined HTL. We re-demoed the song with Colin on vocals after that and it eventually became the title of our cd as well as the b-side to the record, which is hilarious. The other Newyear song actually had the chorus of our secret song "Her eyes say yes" which Omar was able to ingeniously recycle. There's a fun fuckin' fact for ya.
Are you guys going to release any more covers? Nick: Hell yeah, cover songs are the best. We have a whooole list of covers that we'll eventually bust out, be it for a cover cd or any other chance we get(punk goes country - lookin' at yooou Mr. Becker...). We're actually planning to do a whole lot more songs about dudes so we can piss the bro's off for not changing "her" to "him".
How did the tour with Cobra Starship come about? Did they ask you guys?
Nick: Actually, legend has it that while in the UK, merch-guy extraordinaire Andy(he works for ATL now) was talking to Gabe and Gabe asked him who they should take out and Andy told him Hit The Lights. We got the offer and said "Booyeah!". We're stoked for the tour and we gotta give props to Andy for having our backs. Dude's got a huge wang, honestly, I've seen it. He's gonna have back problems.
Do you have any pre show rituals? Nick: We like to crank Powerman 5000, get in a big circle and just spit in each other's ears for like, half an hour. I know it sounds weird, but it's always worked for us.
Why did the record label edit "drive" out of their single stay out? Did you guys have any say in the matter?
Nick: The label didn't do it, which was all MTV I believe. We didn't have any say, I guess it's something that they didn't want on their station. Who needs songs about insinuating drunk driving when you can have all the scripted reality dating game shows you want?!?! That's the REAL question. We like to pretend the lyrics are "Sober up on the fuck home", that's how we deal.
How has it been working with Matt from The Starting Line as your manager?
Nick: Matt's been the man, we love him and he works hard for us. I got my drunk Starting Line talk with him out of the way early so we can move on and get down to bidness. He's serious about us and he cares about the career of this band, which is something that we appreciate to the fullest. We back him, he backs us - and it's okay that he doesn't remember me from being in the front for all the TSL shows, I forgive him. A quick shout out to Randy
Nichols as well - we feel like we're in the best of hands with these guys.
How do you view the "scene"? Nick: Let me pop a breath mint before I start talking all my shit... The ADD generation has taken over. Myspace has leveled the playing fields between signed artists and unsigned artists a like. Kids hop from band to band, trend to trend always looking for the next thing to latch on to for a year or less. There’s no heart to the music, it's been stripped away year after year. Kids are missing out on connecting with the actual music and instead are connecting with the fad or craze it's wrapped around. It's sad to know that a lot of younger kids now are missing out on picking up a record at the store, taking it home, putting in the cd and reading along with the lyrics in your room. Some of the best times of my life were spent doing that. They'll never get it because they don't have to now. They have new music delivered to them daily through myspace and blog sites for free and no connection is made. All we can do is play the music we love and look for the people that we know gets us and what we do. To the up and coming generation: FUCK what your friends are listening to, listen to music that you connect with and understand. You have NO idea how much better it makes EVERYTHING.
Do you think it's a good thing so many bands are sharing a similar sound? As artists do you try to separate yourself from that or try to stay similar with your own spin/flavor added on? How do you feel you accomplished this?
Nick: There will always be trends that bands will follow, however horrible they may be. Our sound is something that we have created for ourselves. We haven't changed a THING for anyone else, we write what we like and we're not changing just because other bands are trying the same stuff. It sucks because every time a trend starts it always ends up running that genre into the ground. We just have to rely on the fact that we're good at what we do and we're writing this music because it's always been what we are. I think that that comes through in our music and live shows.
Any good bands you are currently into right now? Nick: I've been listening to Kids in Glass Houses, Pantera, Notorious B.I.G., and I recently got back into Buried Alive. I recently lost my i-pod so I've become a cutter to cope. Omar and Dave are way into M.I.A.
Anything else you want to say to the kids on AP.net? Nick: Yes. 9/11 was an inside job, there are alien bases on the moon, Ron Paul FTW. You're fucking welcome.
Message boards are a breeding ground for the people that will NEVER have anything to do with your success. With that being said, the people that take the time to comment on our posts and say such nice fucking things about us, it never gets old. Thank you for backing us, it lets us know that there is a little heart in the scene still, and that's all we want. Even if you don't like our music, appreciate the fact that it's honest and we do it because we love it. Come out and see us at da shows.
You can check out Hit the Light's AbsolutePunk.net profile here and myspace page here.
Nick is a great interviewee- he's an amusing character and on top of that he actually gives direct answers, which is I find is kind of uncommon among rockers. On an unrelated note, it's crazy that Matt Flyzik was that close to being HTL's frontman. Underscore rep.