Brent Eyestone, Graham Scala & Ryan Parrish (Highness) interviewed

How’d Highness come together?Brent Eyestone: Highness is a name I’ve wanted to use on “something” over the course of several years. There’s been just about as many lineups while the ultimate realization was being formed. Originally, the band was to be half of the All-American Rejects and half of Forensics when Mike, one of their guitar players, was recording Ben Weasel just up the road in MD. He had allotted extra time to go in and work on Highness material, but technical issues ate up all those days and we never got around to it. The songs written for that version also had the current aim toward working catchiness into an overall heavier feel toward new results. The current lineup really took shape when I brought a batch of new songs to Graham, who I played with in Forensics. After working on them, the consensus was essentially, “fuck it, let’s stop Forensics so that we can focus on these songs and getting the right people to realize the sonic potential of it all.” That night we called Eric and before I could get the full question out, he butted in and told us he’s on board with what we’re trying to do with this sound. We played with some close friends on bass and drums for a while, constantly refining and shaping what we had. It was stalling for a bit, so when Ryan quit Darkest Hour and mentioned he wanted to play with Graham and I, we did some shuffling that resulted in him on drums and Brandon Evans on bass. All of the sudden, half of City of Caterpillar was in the band, which made the inner nerd in both Graham and myself hit the proverbial inhaler.

Full-time band or more of a project?
Graham Scala: It’s neither and it’s both. We’ve got a good number of miles between us all and the five of us may only grace the same room a few times a year, but there’s considerably more energy and dedication devoted to this than there would be if it was just something we were doing to kill time while waiting for something bigger to come along.

Does Highness differ from your previous bands?
Graham Scala: It’s been over a decade since I’ve been involved in anything remotely as melodic as this. I can play heavy or weird music ’til my fingers fall off, but to involve myself with something so accessible without feeling like I’m working too far afield from my previous work has been a satisfying challenge.
Ryan Parrish: Highness is by the far the most unique sounding musical endeavor I’ve ever participated in. There are so many diverse influences and creative voices at work here, either in the practice space writing music or on the artistic side, for instance the album art (done by bassist Brandon Evans). There’s nothing like this out there I’m aware of and I hope to keep pushing all aspects of this band that direction as we grow.

Is there a message to Highness?
Brent Eyestone: I’m a big fan of music that stirs a listener around a bit inside, but leaves a silver lining with a slight touch of urgency chasing it. While the messages are open to interpretation, I do hope that meaning is found for people on a personal level… and that one foot keeps getting put in front of the other toward each supporter/listener getting that much closer to a fulfilling experience on their own terms.
Ryan Parrish: Lyrically, that may be a question best answered by Eric Richter. But, sonically, I believe our message and intent is to create something that has a very heavy, energetic fullness to it while simultaneously easing the listener with atmospheric soundscapes and beautiful guitar and vocal harmonies.

What is it about music that keeps you and fellow Highness musicians interested in forming bands, doing collaborations, and so forth?
Graham Scala: One point of overlap between us is the degree to which our tastes are expansive. I can’t speak for anybody else, but when I hear something that resonates with me, I want to do it. So with Highness I got to tick off “play with a bunch of people whose music I’ve listened to for half my life” from the list of bands to start. If I can just get my psychedelic country band, my Bolt Thrower ripoff, and my ambient dub projects going maybe I can catch up with the rest of the list.
Brent Eyestone: My dad put it best a few years back: “In all the years I’ve known you and watched you grow, I’ve never seen you more happy than when you’re writing music with your friends.”

Where can interested folk acquire Highness’ music? Wait, didn’t give the entire album away for free? OK, I guess physical copies are available.
Brent Eyestone: Hold is available in physical formats via CD and 180 gram LPs. We encourage everyone to get them via their local record store first and foremost. Barring that, US listeners can get it direct from Magic Bullet Records and international listeners can get copies via Dischord Records. Digitally, it’s available from iTunes and all the usual suspects. We also occasionally team up with online sites to give away songs and/or the whole thing for free, so keep an eye out.

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