Stages and Stereos, an alternative rock band from Tallahassee, Florida, has been on quite the rollercoaster ride since their formation in 2007. The band went on a brief hiatus in 2010, when bassist Ian Edge joined the U.S. Army as a Combat Medic in Afghanistan. After receiving severe injuries and being awarded the honor of the Purple Heart, Edge came back with new inspiration to kick start Stages and Stereos once again. With the motivation of Edge and Daniel Lancaster, the band quickly came back together, and now consists of Edge, Lancaster, Donnie Webb, Zach Schweizer, and Austin Moore.
Even after all the hardships, Stages and Stereos came back strong, and their journey is no more prevalent than in their song, “Pressure Under Fire,” which Edge considers a special mantra for his journey home. The band has also been blessed with a loyal fan base, supporting the band even during their hiatus, with the purchase of nearly 45,000 singles. Since then, Stages and Stereos has released the Anchorless EP, as well as a new album, Small Town Favorites, which is set to be released this fall. Stages and Stereos has also had the opportunity to work with producers Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount, (Mayday Parade, Go Radio, Cartel) as well as touring with popular bands like Go Radio and Paradise Fears.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Ian and talk about their journey as a band, the gratitude for their fans, and the upcoming album. See what he had to say below!
It sounds like it’s been a rough road for Stages and Stereos; can you tell us a little bit more about your experience as a band, and Ian, yours in the Army?
I wouldn’t say it’s been a rough road. There are a lot of demands and lot of sacrifices you have to meet to be successful in this business. Our biggest problem in the past was maintaining a lineup that could handle that. The lineup we have now is overflowing with talent and dedication and we’re putting everything we have into this. My experiences in the army were amazing. I met people and made friends that I will never forget. I came to know and love the guys I was deployed with like brothers. As nonsensical as it may sound, playing in a touring band for years before I joined the army really prepared me for it. I was already accustomed to sharing close quarters and sleeping in hot and uncomfortable places before I even put on a uniform. Much like the military, we thrive on moral and camaraderie.
Was there one moment that really made you feel like you needed music/your band back in your life?
Not to bring too much gloom to this interview, but I spent a lot of time in the hospital wondering what I was going to do now and really kicking myself for taking a break from music in the first place. There was this moment of awakening inside me. I was surrounded by people who love me dearly and who have never allowed me to give up and I was not about to let them down. There were some hurdles, but the people in my corner pushing me to bounce back made every milestone seem insignificant.
Was it hard getting back to where Stages and Stereos had been? Can you tell us a little bit more about what it was like coming off of hiatus?
Strangely, the band somehow continued to grow while we weren’t playing. It was like this tightly wound spring ready to explode. As soon as talk of new music was posted online our fans responded and it continued to steamroll into the position we’re in now.
It sounds like you have some great fans, what was your first show back like?
We have the greatest fans, hands down. Our first show back was nothing short of surreal. Similar to seeing someone you really care about after being apart for a long time. You’ve both changed and grown, but everything that you loved about them in the first place is still there.
Being from Tallahassee, FL and having connections with Mayday Parade and Go Radio, you probably get compared to them a lot. Do you think that works to your advantage? How do you set yourself apart from other bands in that scene?
It’s funny that you bring that up. Almost every online post involving either of those bands erupts into a public breakdown of their history and we tend to get thrown in there a lot. Those guys are some of our best friends and knowing and being associated with them has certainly had its advantages. But, you can only get so far in someone else’s shadow. No matter how large said shadow may be, at some point you have to either make a conscious decision to step outside your comfort zone and do something that’s really unique to you or be content being that other band. Those bands have really established their sounds and there are not many, if any, bands that can do it on their level. We’re extremely satisfied with the new direction we’ve taken with this new EP and it will without a doubt help us start to pave our own path.
What influenced you the most while writing and recording your new album, Small Town Favorites? What can fans expect from the new album?
Our individual tastes in music vary, sometimes greatly. We’ve all been doing this long enough to know what makes a great song and were all very adamant about doing what’s best for the song over our personal preferences. This recording and writing experience was the smoothest session I’ve ever been a part of. We had a lot of DIY material recorded (in pretty terrible quality) when we met up with Zack and Kenneth to get started. We spent several days doing pre-production really melding every little part of every song into the best it could be. In the end we came out with five of the best songs any of us have ever put together. Our fans will not be disappointed. It’s not only Stages & Stereos; it’s Stages & Stereos at our finest.
Can you tell us a little more about “Pressure Under Fire”? Was it a difficult song to write? How was it received by your fans?
Shortly after moving closer to Tallahassee, Daniel came to visit me. He brought an acoustic and I had a bottle of Jack Daniels and a left handed bass I had all but given up on. The night grew late and our reminiscing moved to the balcony outside. We talked about what we’ve been up to the past few years and naturally the conversation turned to the injuries I sustained in combat. Every lyric in that song is told in a firsthand account and coincides with what was going on both around me and in my head when everything happened. I feel like some people really get the song, and some don’t. Nothing against those who don’t. Those people are lucky enough to not have ever experienced anything related to war and know no one who has.
Currently, Stages and Stereos are unsigned. Are you looking or hoping to sign to a label, or do you prefer this DIY method of releasing music?
I would say we’re looking but definitely not hoping. We prefer to be on the road playing the music we love for people who love to hear it. If an offer came along that could expand that possibility it would be worth a look. Some people are scared to put hard work in and make things happen, that isn’t us. So it ultimately comes down to will they work as hard as us and are they as passionate about this band reaching the top as we are.
Looks like you’ll be heading out on this year’s Glamour Kills Tour. What are you most looking forward to and what can fans expect at your show?
Daniel and I used to jam Cartel’s record, Chroma, on repeat. Personally that’s what I’m most looking forward to. Touring with a band I’ve looked up to for so long. It’s always a blast being around the Mayday guys and if Man Overboard is at least half as friendly as they are talented it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Our new EP will be released on Sept 24th. If you’re a fan of Stages, you want to pick it up when it’s released on iTunes at midnight the night before. Trust me.