Their name may evoke thoughts of ‘Lost’ theories and regressed flying phobias, but Sky Eats Airplane is, in fact, Fort Worth, Texas’ most notable electronicore five-piece. The band’s story begins in 2005 when Lee Duck and Brack Cantrell, a young, experimental duo, spent just three months writing and self-producing their nine-track debut record Everything Perfect on the Wrong Day. While the project was somewhat of a casual effort for the two teens, the album garnered a fervent buzz amongst hardcore fans. Their online presence was completely unprecedented for such a small, unsigned band.
However, in the fall of 2006, Cantrell left to pursue a different musical path, leaving founding member Duck to find a new singer and ultimately reinvent the group all together. Now, nearly two years later, the group has broken out of its cocoon and become a full band comprised of Duck, Jerry Roush, Zack Ordway, Johno Erickson, and Kenny Schick.
Given their history, the band’s sophomore album is, in a sense, Sky Eats Airplane’s first. “We want this album to be the epitome of what people think of when they hear our name,” Duck explains as the reasoning behind deciding on a self-titled album. “We want to establish this as our sound; this is what we think great music sounds like.”
After over five million MySpace plays (and growing), it’s clear that fans have fallen hard for the quintet’s grand, dramatic symphony, and welcome their penchant for fusing bellowing roars with delicate melody. Sky Eats Airplane exemplifies the band’s intricate songwriting detail and maturation over the past three years, specifically with the record’s opener “Long Walks on Short Bridges,” which sets the tone for the album. The listener is then led down an adventurous path of dynamically ripping guitars on “Numbers,” an ascension of industrial-to-pop on “Photographic Memory,” and a moment of melodic exaltation during “In Retrospect.”
While the band’s first effort was self-produced, the heralded Brian McTernan (Thrice, Circa Survive, Senses Fail) worked his magic on this record, enhancing the artistry that has been there from the start. “In my experience, it was really easy working with Brian,” guitarist Zack Ordway says. “I felt like he and I were on the same page most of the time. When we were unsure about parts of certain songs and melody lines, Brian definitely stepped up and worked with us. Together we came up with some pretty cool stuff.”
“When you were a kid, you thought coloring books were the best, but then you grow up and coloring books aren’t as fun anymore,” Duck says. “In the same respect, our musical tastes and abilities have graduated to the next level, and when that happens, you don’t want to go back to that first tier you started off on.”
“On the old record, we developed the electronica first and the vocals second,” explains Duck on their developed writing process. “With this record it’s almost the complete opposite. Zack composed the songs, writing all the guitar riffs and a basic structure. From that point, we’d add depth – vocals and then electronica on top of that. We’re a full band now, working as a whole, which adds a lot more to our music.”
The band can be topically coupled with the likes of Chiodos or Killswitch Engage, but SEA is making music that sets them apart from the rest, kicking down the walls of conventional music and plowing the field to create the foundation of a new genre that will surely be emulated by the next generation of forward thinking bands.
When asked about their musical influences, Ordway doesn’t reach for the obvious grab bag. While he says he listens to a lot of Bjork and guitar-driven music, it’s jazz that has had the biggest impact on his writing style. “All of our chord placings are just straight jazz progressions,” Ordway says. “When we’re in the van, we’re listening to artists like John Legend or other bands out of our spectrum,” Duck adds.
The band’s broad musical exploration is the reason why Sky Eats Airplane is so distinct. Listeners, whether consciously or subconsciously, have been drawn to these nuances since day one. Next up, the young Texans will be co-headlining a U.S. tour with A Skylit Drive and closing out this year’s Warped Tour with a three-week stint. As for the band’s immediate goals, Ordway is content with simply providing audiences with the music they deserve to hear. “I just hope old fans to accept the change and how we sound now,” he says. “As for the new kids, I don’t know how they’ll react to this album, but we’re excited to find out.”
“Sky Eats Airplane is the result of us all being on the same page,” Duck says. “It’s like the end of a movie when you know there’s going to be a sequel. There’s so much open space on this record that we’ve got a ton of room to work with in the future, and we plan on exploring it through and through.”