Interview | The Upset Victory | Stephen Campbell
By Candice Anne Marshall
Band Members: Jason Dill, Frank Hammonds, Stephen Campbell, Aaron Roy, Eric Vice
IMM – What was your first reaction when you discovered The Upset Victory (TUV) was being featured on the front page of Indie Music Monday (IMM)?
SC – It was exciting. Anytime someone gives you a nice accolade or has a nice thing to say about your music it’s refreshing. Especially when you look at how much time, moray, and energy an Artists spends pouring themselves into their art, it’s always nice to get some kind words, feedback or support. Whether it be the front page of a magazine or a website or radio, we always take everything to heart in a good way.
IMM – What do you feel is the importance of being showcased?
SC – I think it’s really important. I mean, it’s probably difficult for mega-superstars to reach out to every single person…. we’re not there at all so I can’t speak to that but I know that our level when people respond to our music and seem to enjoy it, we always make an effort to comment, reach out, and engage with as many people as we can. I think it’s also important for us to build those relationships because otherwise, it’s just music with no real story behind it. You never know what can come from it – maybe they will dig deeper and like some of your older songs or albums that you’ve put out. People start becoming more involved because of the interaction you’ve had and they become a true fan and not just a casual listener.
IMM – Some bands have an inner circle of fans that are close to them. Does your band have this also?
SC – There is not so much of an inner circle, but there are some people who have certainly stuck with us from the beginning until now and we like to stay in touch with them. We’re passionate people just like anyone else – we’re music fans too, so we are certainly accommodating in entertaining everyone on the whole who cares about out band.
IMM – How would you say that your band stands out among the thousands of other Artists in the music industry?
SC – Reverbnation was certainly a huge asset to us – they’ve been great to us. We are part of their ‘Connect’ program which is cool. The program has helped Artists develop their careers and reach larger audiences. I think as far as reaching out to people, it’s important to really hone in on your songwriting. It was more apparent to use when writing our first full length album that we had to write ten really great songs. To stand out, you must have a unique strategy. It’s not enough anymore to put out a full-length album. You must strategically release one song at a time and test the waters. Bands are always releasing singles periodically and strategically. Some bands have released all ten songs over the course of a year and at the end of that year, they allow fans to buy the whole collection and it just happens to be on a full-length album.
There are a lot of different ways to get noticed in terms of album strategy and how you want to get noticed. There’s a down-side to that as well where you get pigeon-holed into that mentality where you release the album, release one song and then you hit the road (touring). There’s different strategies now. I think it’s about adapting and you must accept things the way they are, I mean, times have changed in terms of crafting your own path which is what we’ve been doing.
IMM – What has been your most successful strategy to date?
SC – Well, I think that each song is its own strategy. Musicians today have to be marketing gurus, business savvy, songwriters, hard workers…. it’s not enough to just hope and pray things pick up. Our most effective strategy has been remaining steadfast, continuing to hone our craft as songwriters, continuing to look for opportunities, saying ‘yes’ more than saying ‘no’ – I think a lot of times we live in a ‘No! No! No!’ society. I think people should say ‘yes’ first. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things.
I asked someone for advice a long time ago (on how to be successful in strategy) and they said, ‘Well, I just didn’t give up’. It’s as simple as that really. I think that sometimes Artists are searching for an elaborate answer and it’s really as simple as just continuing to move forward despite adversity around you.
IMM- What kind of opportunities has the band had?
SC – We took chances. We went and recorded our songs at Starlight Studios…we didn’t know them at first so we just took a chance by going to Florida and working with them. I mean, they have worked with some big bands like Twenty One Pilots and many other Artists. It bloomed into a friendship while we were recording ‘Wall Street’ (previous EP) which we then went on to record the full-length album we are about to release. Relationship building is important to us. Reaching out is important too. For every nine people who don’t respond to your emails, or call you back…. it’s on that tenth person that there’s that little light of hope shining through the tunnel. We were fortunate enough to get some leverage from previous releases and it’s lead to this moment.
We also were able to network with the production team who helped us develop this great album – it just went from there. People can easily get discouraged when things go wrong but it’s a domino effect; had we not completed the first EP, we wouldn’t have continued. The opportunity from that segued into what we are doing now – it’s a domino effect.
IMM – Absolutely! Have there been any bands that you have been compared to that you have been flattered by?
SC – Yes, there has but sometimes you scratch your head a little bit (laughs). I think the beauty of music is that everyone has their own ideas or thoughts on that: what sounds one way to someone may sound totally different to the next. It’s strange because we’ve been compared to everything from Panic! At The Disco to Fallout Boys and more. It’s funny because they are all great bands and successful but a lot of us don’t even listen to some of these bands so it’s interesting. We are not trying to go out of our way to sound like anyone in particular. Every CD that we’ve put out is different because we want our content to be kept fresh and new.
IMM – What have been your biggest challenges as a band to date?
SC – We’ve gone through some memberships (band members) but that’s fine, people change, things change. Typical roadblocks that most Artists go through…. a lot of times when you are independent (indie), you should make sure your finances are in order. I don’t think there is one sole problem that we’ve faced. It’s been more of a day-to-day thing really. It could be anything from what hook are we going to play in the studio to budgeting financially for artwork to be done for a project. It’s always wearing different hats as I mentioned before. I think that the modern Musician should be business savvy. I don’t view these things as a negative thing though – you can learn from it or you can flounder.
IMM – You’ve recently released ‘The Weekend (Bad Habits)’, love that song by the way and have it on my iPhone, but if you were to choose another single to release from the upcoming album, which one would that be and why?
SC – Hmmm…that’s a tough one. For the sake of this interview, I feel I should talk about songs that are already out because people haven’t heard the new content for a frame of reference. But short answer: there’s a song on the album called ‘Reflections’ which is one of my personal favorites. I love what Jason (Dill – lead vocalist) did lyrically and melodically with it because it’s super catchy. I just love it. There’s a lot of cool instrumentation with organs, keyboards, synthesizers…. all kinds of layers to the song that are really cool. I feel that there is a beauty and simplicity in that song as well. I am excited for people to hear that one. I really like both songs that we have already put out so far – that’s not me just giving a ‘fluff’ answer, I truly love ‘Don’t Give Up The Night’ and ‘The Weekend (Bad Habits)’. We released them within a few months of one another and if you like those songs, then you’re in for a treat for the whole album. It is a really strong indicator of what’s to come. ‘Don’t Give Up The Night’ is a really cook punk rock kind of song with a serious undertone lyrically to it. It’s about not giving up in the face of scrutiny and rejection. Then there’s ‘The Weekend (Bad Habits)’ which has a cool, groovy sound to it. Again, a lot of layers there and some string arrangements going on in it We were able to flex our creative mojo with that song so to speak. I feel that our new music is the best content we have to date.
IMM – It’s very impactful! In terms of media platform that stands out for you most in terms of support?
SC – With the new music, the radio play we got for ‘Don’t Give Up The Night’ was awesome. We received a lot of radio play with that song. For us to hear our song on the radio while we are out driving was amazing. We have had other songs featured on radio (sparingly_ here and there but this song was on heavy rotation and it really blew the song out of the water for us. We got some great traction In Las Vegas and Cincinnati so it was really cool to see that momentum build. Most recently, the radio play really stands out as the most supportive media platform.
IMM – Are there any radio stations you would like to give a ‘shout-out’ to?
SC – Yeah! X – 107.5 Las Vegas, The Project 100.7/106.3 Alternative Rock in Cincinnati – there’s just been some great stations who have supported us really.
IMM – Who is responsible for the production for ‘Don’t Give Up The Night’?
SC – The producer is a freelancer who does great work and his name is Chris Shelley. We gave him the run-down of what we are going for and he made a great lyric video as well.
IMM – What venue have you played in that you remember most fondly?
SC – We have always had a great experience with the Madison Theatre in Kentucky. The staff and promoters have always been really kind to us. Southgate House Revival is another great place to play……It’s hard to pick one specific venue in our hometown because there’s lots of rich musical history in Cincinnati. Wherever you go there is some cool new bar or music venue popping up. We were fortunate to play a bunch of venues a handful of times in our hometown. The Bunbury Music Festival was also very cool to play at – we played at that festival twice. I think ‘The Flaming Lips’, ‘Paramour’, and ‘Fallout Boys’ played there one year, and the next ‘Imagine Dragons’ and ‘Twenty One Pilots’ played. It’s such a prolific music festival in our hometown. I am proud to be from Cincinnati. The city has such a notable music festival that was bred and grown in our hometown.
IMM – Is there a fan moment that stands out for you?
SC – This might be a boring answer, but any time anyone approaches one of our band members and has said some kind words to us is enough for me. If we see someone out there smiling and jumping and getting into our music, or having a good time because of hearing our music – that, to me, is rewarding and memorable.
IMM – As far as the music industry itself, what has the support among your peer group been like?
SC – Going back to our hometown again, I think the radio stations I listed – they really support local music. They’ve supported us and we appreciate them. There’s a great publication called CityBeat which has been around for years. If you want to learn about new bands in the ‘scene’ and who would I look to – well people look to CityBeat for that. We’ve been fortunate enough to be nominated for a Cincinnati entertainment award by them. They’ve also done some great write-ups on us. They’ve been really supportive. Even if these publications or radio stations didn’t support us, I would still be appreciative of the fact that they’re out there supporting music in general.
IMM – When is your album release date?
SC – Well we had some meetings recently to discuss that and it’s looking like the next couple months…. I don’t have a specific date right now but in the next couple months that’s what we’re looking at.
IMM – Okay, last question: if you could give any advice to a newer band starting in the music industry right now, what would that be?
SC – I would say kind of what I had mentioned earlier: be prepared to wear a variety of different hats. It’s not enough anymore to be just a Musician. You must be prepared to be a marketing guru, a strategist, business savvy – all those things. Those skill-sets also don’t happen overnight. If you diversify yourself and think outside the box and check the resources at your fingertips. The internet has so much to offer in terms of music career advice. If you’re struggling to find what works for you, that’s okay – be patient, work hard, and just don’t give up!
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