Interview by Bethany Polson
Still the Sky’s Limit are a rock band from Southern California. Their newest single “Lo Hice a Proposito” is out now on Itunes. We chatted with singer and guitarist Johnnyb. about their current tour, the new single, and their upcoming album. Check it out below!
Open Our Eyes: What got you interested in pursuing music and who are your musical inspirations?
Still the Sky’s Limit: The pursuit of music began in high school. In attending shows and grasping the passion of the artists and the crowds; it just struck a chord in me. I spent the next four years (college) really honing the skills necessary in my writing of songs that I felt that same passion for and just continued to grow from there. It took me a long time after that to be able to sing well enough to have a viable shot at truly going for it as a career goal. My earliest musical inspirations were bands such as Oasis and Bush (first two albums I purchased). That then shifted to the pop punk era Blink 182 and New Found Glory, followed by Taking Back Sunday and The Used, and so on. The musical inspirations morph as time goes on and I have a chance to discover more and am introduced to more even by my own band mates.
OOE: Where did your name come from? Were there names for this project before this one?
STSL: The name Still The Sky’s Limit came following a song title of mine: “(Still) The Sky’s Limit”. The song was one of the first I wrote for the project, which was originally a solo, side project for myself as I was, at that time, in another band that had grown a bit stagnant. Once the band actually formed, I was driving to practice one day, and as I typically do, I found myself lost in thought and decided to remove the parenthesis from the song title, which then created an entirely new meaning to the name Still The Sky’s Limit. I thought of it as in “still, the sky’s limit is infinite”; i.e. anything is possible. That is a predominant thought in all of our lives in this band, and it hit me so hard that it had to be our band name, as well as our message to everyone we ever come into contact with.
OOE: You just released a new song “Lo Hice a Proposito”; can you tell us a little bit about it and why you chose to title it in Spanish?
STSL: “Lo Hice a Proposito” is a song I wrote about a night I had a few years ago that involved a girlfriend I had at the time, and a girl that was trying to make a move on me. The girlfriend and me went to a holiday party she was having at her parents’ house, and this other girl was at the same party as she was a coworker of my girlfriend and a friend of her family. The entire night this girl was trying to make seemingly sly moves to get me alone; none of which worked as the attempts had been caught on very quickly. This same girl tried similar moves at other times during my relationship with the girlfriend, but the holiday party was the catalyst for the song itself; which is both mocking her as well as calling her out for the sorry attempts. As she is of Latin descent, I chose to title the song in Spanish. Lo Hice a Proposito translated to English means “I did it on purpose”.
OOE: How do you approach writing/recording a song?
STSL: I love this question, because there is no single answer to the process. Song writing takes on so many different forms. Sometimes I will have a single guitar riff that I fall in love with and quickly write lyrics, melody, and the rest of the instrumental parts to; sometimes I’ll have a lyric set that I am obsessed with and will write a song specifically for it. The process really just depends on the situation. I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually written even two songs within the same process. That is probably why it is so much fun to write, because it is so random and the outcome so satisfying. In terms of recording, I’ll demo out a song on my own and make sure I enjoy listening to it as well. Lucky for us, we have befriended the exceptionally amazing producer Erik Ron. We go directly to him for any song we record now. The great thing about Erik is that he has such an amazing ear for music and enjoys the process as much as we do; he’s like an extension of the band.
OOE: Much of your music is focused personal stories; do you find it more difficult or more rewarding to write about personal experiences?
STSL: Every single song I’ve written thus far is about a personal experience. It’s a very therapeutic process to expel the stories of my life that have befallen me over the years. Every song is a very specific memory of mine; and every night I get to sing each song, I can take it in and remember exactly where I was, where I’ve been, and even where I’m going. They actually make for quite the wake up call to just how lucky I am in being able to do what I do. I never get caught up or take for granted even the most miniscule of ideas that goes along with being in Still The Sky’s Limit. It may sound cheesy, but every day we get to do this has been a dream come true for all of us. I also try to keep the concepts a bit general lyrically so that other people who have experienced similar consequences of life’s journeys can relate and hopefully grab a bit of solace from knowing that they’re not alone in it. Basically, trying to convey the knowledge that no matter what happens, it will always get better, we just have to get past situations and put them in the past.
OOE: Are there any plans to release an album later this year?
STSL: We do plan on releasing a full length album later this year. We have already recorded about half of it with Erik Ron and plan on recording the rest once we return from this U.S. tour.
OOE: You’re currently on tour now; how has it been so far? What has the response been like from the crowds?
STSL: The tour so far has been beyond amazing. We have even been surprised at just how well we’ve been received. We go in to every show we play just doing our thing: high energy, having fun, performing as best as we can, and to have people latch on to that energy and join us has been one of the best experiences of our lives. We couldn’t be more thankful. Other than that, this tour has been cold! We are from the West Coast, so to hit negative degrees in weather was a bit of a shock for us. Luckily, we’ve adapted quite quickly, and to be able to experience some weather has been an interesting journey in itself. As it stands now, we are in New Jersey, staring out a window of our friend Joy’s house at some of the biggest snow drifts we’ve ever seen; which is a neat new scene for 3 guys and a merch girl named Blaire from Southern California!
OOE: How do you prepare for your live shows?
STSL: Haha, our drummer Aaron just chimed in “you don’t”. This is very true, while Aaron, being the extremely talented drummer that he is, tunes his drums, listens to some music on his phone and gets pumped up for the performance; I tend to walk around, watching the other bands performing on the show, doing a few vocal warm ups as I’m watching, but nothing too extravagant. I am a creature of situational reactions. I love getting on stage and just going for it. We’re a very interactive band, so I love to get the crowd involved early, and letting them drive the show. It makes every night a different story. As long as we’ve prepared as a band for the songs we will be performing, then the rest is fun improvisation and a group project for the venue as a whole.
OOE: Do you have a favorite venue to play? Do bigger or smaller venues appeal to you?
STSL: Very tough question. As a younger guy I longed to perform at the Glasshouse in Pomona, California. This was the place I went to see some of my favorite bands growing up and just looked up with such fondness at the venue. We finally were given the opportunity to perform there, and on the farewell show of band My American Heart. It was an honor to finally be able to perform there; and we made it worth every second that had led up to the opportunity. Other than that, venues both big and small present such different feels; we love playing them all. We’ve played at venues such as Chain Reaction in Anaheim, California, to intimate crowds and venues such as the House of Blues, San Diego to bigger crowds, and everywhere in between. Every show at any venue, we perform as if it will be our very last chance to do what we love to do. I would very much like to someday perform in an arena, just to have that adrenaline and push my own boundaries of crazy performances.
OOE: Who is one artist you would want to tour with?
STSL: The great part of this question is that each member of Still The Sky’s Limit would have a different answer. From Foo Fighters (Josh) to Blink 182 (Aaron) to Taking Back Sunday (Johnnyb). To be able to perform shows with the bands that shaped our musical lives would boggle our minds. As long as the people in the band are cordial and nice people, we’re down to tour with anyone. We’re friendly guys that just enjoy the opportunities and experiences.
OOE: Open Our Eyes focuses on the healing quality of music. How has music helped you through challenges in your life?
STSL: My songs are my therapy. Perhaps mostly being a subconscious act during the writing process, upon completing a song I always have that moment of clarity where the song itself shows me it was a release of a certain tension I had in life, hence a healing quality. Music of all types and styles does that for me as well. I may become obsessed with an Adele or Christina Perri or The Civil Wars song that strikes me and I can relate to, and at the same time the same effect can come from a Pierce the Veil or Memphis May Fire or I The Mighty song. Music gives me a way to take a step back and really take in the way life is going, the challenges that may be present at a certain time, and to figure out how to proceed in a positive fashion. Life can be tough, frustrating, and give a sense of despondence; but letting a piece of music give you even a quick escape to step back and assess the breadth of a lifetime, all that ails can be healed. Musicians have done that for me throughout my life. Hopefully, in some small way we can pass that on to others as well.