They say music is a brotherhood, and never is that more prevalent than in the metal scene. When the opportunity came up last month to help raise money for The Electric Company (Mansfield, OH), this band was one of the first bands to jump at the opportunity to help.
“A lot of times we do benefit shows anyways. Local bands have to step up!” exclaimed guitarist Chad McElwee.
McElwee is the self-proclaimed “band dad” for Bainbridge, Ohio’s Then Falls The Sky. The group started in 2014 and has been running with their current lineup since 2017. That includes singer and lyricist Nick Barlage, bassist Oney Michaels, guitarist Jake Smith and drummer Amanda McElwee. Their origin was slightly unconventional, but has proved to be fruitful.
“Well, it all started when Jake asked me if I could give him some guitar lessons. If we ever sound terrible, it’s because of that,” laughed McElwee. “We never really wanted to make a specific sound back then, we just wanted to play what made us happy.”
The group says they went in several different musical direction before finding Barlage.
“When I found them, they kind of sounded like Tenacious D, but with more distortion,” he chuckled. “They were definitely less metal than what we are now.”
“The struggle in making a group work is finding people who are willing to evolve,” admits McElwee.
“I’m just glad that they embrace my weird. It’s really cool when you have a bunch of people making art with you, who are willing to move along with you,” added Barlage.
The band has released an EP, Set On Rising, and are planning on a July release for their newest effort, Break Free. The group says they had a lot of fun putting the first EP together.
“We all finally felt like we clicked on that one, learning how to write and jam together,” explained Barlage.
“Before that record, most of the songs were from before Nick and Oney (Michaels, bassist) joined,” says McElwee. “We were still kind of new to each other, and then we kind of stumbled into Letting Go, the first single we ended up releasing.
“The way everything clicked, it was almost like a happy accident. A light bulb went on when we started writing that song, and the rest of the EP just kind of built around it. We said ‘this is what we sound like, let’s go!’”
The guys say that their first single off the new EP, Blinded, follows the same formula.
“You can immediately feel the attitude in the song,” confirms Barlage. “We’re definitely going to have more attitude going forward.”
The song has a wicked electronic intro along with Barlage’s screams, which McElwee says was deliberate. “We’d played with a lot of bands who had really cool intros to their shows, and I liked that concept so I came up with one that was pretty awesome.”
“Chad does a really great job putting things together in the music. But the lyrics of the song are super relevant right now,” continues Barlage. “Do your own research, don’t just believe what you’re told. Open up your eyes and mind, don’t be blinded. We should always look deeper at what the media is telling us.”
“I don’t ever look at a song and try to make it sound cool. I’m always looking at the big picture,” explains McElwee, “like everything needs to be cohesive and fit together.”
The group say their sound has continued to evolve as their songwriting prowess has grown.
“We’re big into post-hardcore and ambient metal bands,” expounds McElwee. “Oney was a keyboard player before he was with us, so you’ll see a lot of that on this album as well.”
“Set On Rising was sort of melancholy, with more harmony and clean singing. Break Free will have a punkier vibe… we all embraced a ‘get shit done’ attitude for it,” Barlage reiterates.
Where a lot of bands have suffered during the pandemic, Barlage says it has surprisingly brought the five of them closer together.
“Personally, it has really helped me write my lyrics. But it still can be hard,” he explains, “because three of us still work full time jobs. But, as a band we’ve all been there for each other, and it has helped us grow stronger as a unit.
“I think we could sit and chat all day online, but nothing beats playing an actual show!” he continued, excitedly. “It’s going to be glorious once we’re able to play again – everyone is going to want to show that they still have it in them.”
“I feel like things were pretty hectic at the beginning of the year, but once things really get going again, it’s almost going to be a competition for who can play the best out there,” nods McElwee.
Although, their time off hasn’t come without hurdles. The group had literally just finished booking their first out of state tour before everything was cancelled.
“I spent a good six months getting all of the pieces in line for that tour,” McElwee admits. “But once we’re able to go out again, we’re hoping to get that going.
“I mean, we’ve never cancelled a single show before that, so it really hurt not being able to go out.”
Break Free is set for release on July 15, 2020, and from what I’ve heard it definitely packs a wallop. The group will be playing a release show on Saturday, July 11 at Muddy Creek Saloon, one of the many venues around Ohio that have re-opened for musical consumption. Barlage only has one request for everyone as they start to take the stage again…
“Flood the scene. We don’t want to lose it again.”
Then Falls The Sky – Blinded