Stereo Skyline hits new heights with major-label debut

Members of the group/band "Stereo Skyline"

Members of the group/band "Stereo Skyline" (Credit: No credit)

The members of Stereo Skyline arrive at the midtown Heartland Brewery still clutching copies of their new CD and smiling.

"We've never had one of these before," says drummer Rob Michelsen, picking up his copy of the band's major-label debut, "Stuck on Repeat" (Columbia), which hits stores Tuesday. "It's pretty great."

Although the East Meadow-based pop band has been touring nationally for two years and has sold more than 12,000 copies of its self-released EP and 150,000 downloads, it's in the middle of a whole bunch of firsts after signing with Columbia Records, including its first video and catchy single "Tongue Tied."

"It's so crazy to just see our album," says bassist Brian Maddox. "Up until now, everything was just done in basements."

"Yeah, when we were talking about album art, it was when we were at home doing it on our computers," adds singer Kevin Bard. "It's different now."

"There's a certain point when you need the next step," Michelsen adds.

And Stereo Skyline - East Meadow natives Bard and Michelsen, Texan Maddox and California guitarist Clayton Johnson - is certainly ready to take it. They had a taste of what could be looming on the horizon for them on the recent Bamboozle Roadshow, touring with Good Charlotte and Hanson and playing to thousands in the Nassau Coliseum parking lot.

"We've toured so much that the crowd reaction isn't usually noticeably different in or out of Long Island," Bard says. "But that show was awesome."

Stereo Skyline's rapid rise has come from its ability to reach pop fans and rock fans simultaneously. The fact that Bard, who is 19, and his 20-something bandmates, aren't that much older than their adoring fans doesn't hurt, either.

"I think we have a happy medium," Maddox says. "We could do a set and not have Justin Bieber fans boo us off the stage, but we can also open for Boys Like Girls."

"Our music appeals to both worlds," adds Michelsen.

"We could be in Alternative Press the same month as J-14 or Tiger Beat," adds Johnson, noting the band had just done a photo shoot for Alternative Press the day before. In fact, Stereo Skyline was picked by the indie-rock bible as one of "100 Bands You Need to Know in 2010" while also being pegged as a band to watch by Seventeen magazine.

What makes navigating both those pop music subcultures easier is that Stereo Skyline is doing music they like and working with people they admire, including Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, who co-wrote "A Little More Us" with them.

"It was surreal," Bard says of working with Schlesinger. They also worked with the great production team S*A*M and Sluggo on the track. "I wanted to reference him [Schlesinger] to stuff, but I realized I was referencing stuff that he wrote. It was kind of hard to reference music with him without sounding like a fan."

Most of "Stuck on Repeat" was produced by Blake Healy, formerly of Metro Station, and the band says it learned a lot from him in terms of both music and handling life in the music business. But they say they clicked with him because he took them seriously.

"A lot of producers nowadays will be like, 'My way or the highway - I've done this a thousand times' and there's something to be said for that," Bard says. "But Blake will sit there and ask you what you feel about something. He'll ask, 'Do you like this? How do you feel about this?' "

Of course, right now, everything feels pretty great for Stereo Skyline, who are already checking items off their wish lists - though playing Madison Square Garden still tops Michelsen's list and Bard says he dreams of being a millionaire, "even if it lasts for a second because I had a million and one dollars and I spent two bucks."

They have a little extra incentive for doing well with "Stuck on Repeat" - not that they really need any. "Rob and I have a bet with our moms," Maddox says. "If we go platinum, they have to get 'Live the Dream' tattoos. So, hopefully, one day. . . . "

The guys of Stereo Skyline

Rob Michelsen

Plays: drums

Hometown: East Meadow

Fun fact: "The last time I was in Newsday was when won the county championship in baseball . Now, it's for something completely different."

 

Brian Maddox

Plays: Bass

Hometown: Dallas

Fun Fact: "We have a lot of food battles in the band. When I first came to Long Island, I was like, 'You guys don't have any food.' . . . Within a mile of my house in Texas, there's like every chain you'd ever want to go to, and they're all connected by the same parking lot."

 

Kevin Bard

Plays: Guitar and does vocals

Hometown: East Meadow

Fun fact: "I went to Nassau Community College for two days and I had to skip the third day for a meeting with a record label, and on the way home I decided I'm not going back."

 

Clayton Johnson

Plays: Guitar

Hometown: Hollywood, Calif.

Fun fact: "Living in L.A., I would do random acting gigs to make a little extra money, and I had to sit in the audience for the 'Jersey Shore Reunion' months before they aired anything. . . . I remember thinking, 'This show isn't going to do anything.' But if you watch the reunion show, you'll see a close-up of my face and I'll be clapping."

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