POZ Showcase: Storm The Beaches
Self-proclaimed “smart pop” founders, Storm the Beaches, are nothing but unique. So while these Baltimore, Maryland natives are defining a new genre with their distinctively technical sensibilities, oddly-Rush-like vocal attack, and undeniably catchy pop delivery, Storm the Beaches are busy honing their skills with the release of their debut album, Hemisphere. The quartet’s debut is an enthralling and sprawling pop soundscape that is modern in touch and untraditional in nature. So while their contemporaries are traveling down the same, boring trails paved by the pop-rock kings of the past, Storm the Beaches are taking a chance and blazing their own path. If nothing else, the guys deserve credit for trying something different in a genre so littered with carbon-copies and robbers.
Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
Mark Mikina - Vocals/Guitar/Writer
Wills Mayo - Guitar/Stringed Instrumentation
Jon Adams - Bass
Dave Favazza - Drums/Percussion
What’s your hometown (or what are your hometowns)?
All four of us were born in Baltimore, Maryland.
How did the band come together? How long has it been?
The band came together oddly enough after a birthday party/jam session. I was already in a band but we literally broke up a day or so later. The person whose birthday it was had asked me to play some songs and so we took that as an opportunity to set up everything we had! Wills had come with me to jam around as well. Former members Danny and Josh were there and that was the first time we had all played together. We ended up playing for a really extended amount of time which the rest of the people were a little shocked by, but we were having the time of our lives. We had all never experienced anything of that sort before and all of us could not stop talking about it for weeks afterwards. Sure enough, Danny and Josh called Wills and me a couple weeks later feeling the same as we did about the event. Since the jam, all four of us had felt depressed like we would never play music like that again and we didn’t know what we wanted with life anymore. The next thing we knew, we were a band. The first time we practiced was in winter of 2009 in a cramped dark basement in Josh’s house. The first thing we named on and played was literally “Some Sort Of Distraction” (a song off of our first recording and EP Gifts From Sea). It took us about 45 minutes - an hour to really nail the song down to its final form, but it was the craziest experience that I will never forget. Danny and Josh left the band in 2011 and Jon and Dave joined the band in early 2012. The band has never been a stronger writing force ever as it is now. We are all close friends and are ready to take over the world.
Why should people listen to your band?
We have come up with our own sub-genre for ourselves. People have always had a hard time describing us and classifying us into a category or a genre. We call ourselves “smart pop”. We came up with ‘smart pop’ because obviously we cannot deny that with all the catchy riffs and the ‘get caught in your head melodies’ that our style doesn’t somewhat fit into a pop genre of some kind. But we try our hardest to think outside of the box. Not as far outside as most people want to go, but just right outside of the “pop” box. As much as possible we want to deviate from the obvious verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, chorus… sure, it makes for a great song structure that anyone at any age can get down with and appreciate, but as long as you keep that catchy melody and other factors that resonate with the pop audience, a band can really get away with experimenting a LOT with the instruments, and the structure of the song, and the lyrics, which in return is going to get you recognition with other genre audiences. We experiment a ton with effects and pedals to make a lot of ambiance and layers underneath the obvious instruments you will hear in a recording. But no matter how experimental we get, or how interestingly we structure a song, or how prophetic we try and make our lyrics, we will never deviate or abandon making a great get caught in your head catchy melody. It is the icing on the cake. A song is not complete, no matter how great your stupid shredding skills are on the guitar, without a great melody.
How have you grown since you started?
I think that when you are on the outside of the music scene or the music industry, you get a false image in your head of what it looks like and what it is/what it’s all about. Most people when they join a band they think it’s going to be all fun and games and hanging out getting drunk 24/7. You assume girls are going to be throwing themselves at you for no reason other than “I play guitar”. You assume big huge guys are going to come out of nowhere and set up all of your gear before you play and take it all down for you once you finish your set so you can go sign girls chests and sell CD’s and retire back to your tour bus before you go to the next city. That’s the furthest thing from what being in a band is all about. I personally have seen everyone I know that is in a band go through their “I am way better then you, I am in … (place band name here)”. Unfortunately, I myself is included in that list. What I have really grown in is respecting and loving other people. Everyone in the entire world plays a role and I have to believe that no matter how big or how small your so called “role” is in this world, you are adding to the order of the universe. Even if technically your thing is to cause chaos, I still believe that you are meant to be alive for some reason. I have grown from the last three years of being deathly ill with chronic Lyme Disease and a rare genetic disorder Elos Danlos Syndrome which has caused me severe chronic pain pretty much my whole life. I have really learned not to take my band for granted. My band is the only reason that I would ever choose to exist. It is the perfect platform to spread love and hope and truth to all humanity.
What sets you apart from other bands in the scene?
The scene we were conceived out of was for the majority a pop/punk music scene. Bands like All Time Low and The Dangerous Summer have come out of this Baltimore music scene. The first thing that sets us apart is pretty obvious and that is music genres. We are not really that pop/punk-ish. At least I don’t get that vibe from us. Growing up, I listened to way different music than all of my friends and people around me did. They were listening to pop-punk and alternative rock, bands like Fall Out Boy, Blink 182, Green Day, Foo Fighters, AFI, Weezer, The Offspring, etc. The first records I ever got that were not Amy Grant Christmas CDs from my mom were “3 Dolla Bill Y’all” and “Significant Other” by none other than Limp Bizkit. The next CD I got was “Break The Cycle” by Staind. Then I got really heavy into Slipknot and still to this day I cannot stop listening to them. After that I got really into Korn, Chevelle, Breaking Benjamin, Godsmack, The Used, Finch, Crossfade… basically I was really picky about my music, but the criteria was mostly just being really, really heavy and either tuning down to drop C, B, or A flat. So already you can see that the bands I grew up on were a lot different from the standard tuning tunes of the pop/punk culture. But I knew that if we were playing in a pop/punk scene, it was adapt or die. Most of these kids had never even listened to the bands I listened to when I was in high school and they were rocking out to Blink-182, but for some reason they already knew they “hated” those band. So when they heard our music for the first time, a lot of them were shocked and thought we had invented some sort of new music, or a new approach to pop/punk which is really funny to me. They came up with every extreme idea except the obvious one. I can’t write pop/punk music to save my life and this is as close as it is going to get to it. It was my attempt at making pop/punk music and I was convinced it was a failure while everyone else thought it was an amazing pop/punk record.