Rock newcomers Above Only possess the kind of music talent that you know within a few moments of first hearing them; they have the ability to become something special. From the Cincinnati based outfit’s lead-off high energy number “Evil Never Sleeps” that begs of rock radio dominance, to their memorizing mid-tempo “Goodbye” and finally the ultra-slick ballad “Change”, their debut EP showcases the band’s ability to write songs that will capture a wide-range of fan interest. This is a rock act that could end up blossoming into the next Skillet, Red, or even Switchfoot. Read on as RockRevolt™ spoke with bassist Jeff Koontz to find out what the buzz is all about.
Interview with Jeff Koontz:
Rick/RR: Jeff, thank you for chatting with RockRevolt™ Magazine!
Jeff/AO: It’s my pleasure to hang out with you again Rick. You look great by the way!
Rick/RR: I think both of those statements go without being said. (laughs) Getting down to the business at hand, you are a relatively new band on the scene. Give our readers a quick recap on how Above Only came together.
Jeff/AO: Above Only in Memphis actually morphed with Advocate SeVen in Cincinnati and became the current lineup of myself, Justin James and Chad Yarger. There is actually very little connection between the old and new but we feel that our current lineup is stable, driven and 110% committed to taking this band as far as we can. Things are finally clicking and we couldn’t be more excited! Well, actually we could be a little more excited, but we’ll save that for another interview. (laughs)
Rick/RR: You released a stunning three-song EP this spring produced by Skillet guitarist Ben Kasica in his Skies Fall Studio in Kenosha,WI. Talk about how you got together to work with Ben and the recording experience working with him.
Jeff/AO: Stunning? Wow, (laughs) thanks! Actually Ben was a connection of Chad’s from the previous AO record several years ago. Since then we’ve established a good friendship with Ben and love his vision and work ethic as well as his engineer Nick Rad. Nick and Ben together are an amazing team and we’re proud to have them as our friends and producers.
Rick/RR: Above Only as a band really excels in the catchy, hard-hitting, modern active rock sound. Knowing Ben’s past history with Skillet, a band itself that has had a ton of success in that genre, it seems like a wise producer choice for the band. I will say the results of the EP speak for themselves.
Jeff/AO: Thanks Rick, we’re extremely happy with the success from the EP and plan on working with Ben and Skies Fall Studio again soon. Word on the street is that they just built a new state of the art studio and we can’t wait to get up there and start pushing buttons and turning dials! Great fun indeed!
Rick/RR: While the EP is short on the song number count, it makes up for it in rock music variety. As an introduction of the band to the rock fans, showing off the band’s diversity seems like a wise idea as well. “Evil Never Sleeps” is a made-for-radio rocker, while “Change” shows off the band’s ability to write a catchy mid-tempo song and lastly, “Goodbye” expresses the band’s more sensitive side. I’m sure this wasn’t done by accident.
Jeff/AO: You’re right there, definitely not an accident. We are guys of strategy and there was much thought put into the EP and those particular songs. Our goal was to connect with people (both general market and Christian) and with radio. Both of which we’re happy with the success we’ve achieved this far.
Rick/RR: “Evil Never Sleeps” has really taken off on CCM rock radio outlets nationwide already charting in the Top 10 on several stations. I’m sure that was exciting to see your lead-off single gaining favor with the fans so quickly.
Jeff/AO: It’s a huge blessing and motivator to see and hear people digging our music. We’ve spent a total of four months at #1 on various stations and reached the top ten on Billboards Christian Rock chart. This is way more than we ever anticipated and can’t wait to get another record out there!
Rick/RR: The song writing approach on the EP as a whole seems like a natural for the band to make an impression in the mainstream rock radio segment as well, such as bands like Red, Skillet, 12 Stones, Thousand Foot Krutch and the likes have been able to do recently.
Jeff/AO: We’re gearing towards mainstream right now due to the current market and demand. We think it’s totally doable to have mainstream appeal and still maintain a positive image and message. In our opinion the mainstream world needs us more than the Christian market anyway.
Rick/RR: Beyond the recorded music, the artwork for the project is killer as well. Talk about the concept behind the visual found here and the artist you worked with for it.
Jeff/AO: That was an idea that Justin and I put together from a concept we saw somewhere on the internet. I found the pictures and we sent our idea to our friend Paul at Coolworld Photography. He worked his photo magic and we love the outcome! It’s definitely original and relates well to our name Above Only. We’re excited people like it!
Rick/RR: I know firsthand that several fans are already asking for a follow-up full-length effort from the band. What are the plans and timetables for that?
Jeff/AO: We’re currently writing for a full length and hope to release something next year. It’s definitely going to rock and turn heads! It’s possible that we record and release a single in the meantime though.
Rick/RR: What is the most memorable show the band has played to date?
Jeff/AO: Every show is memorable in its own way. Probably the one that first comes to mind is our CD release show back in May. Ben joined us on stage to play “Evil Never Sleeps” and a Skillet favorite “Whispers in the Dark.” The fans loved it, we loved it and Ben had a blast as well!
Rick/RR: Many bands list their “interests” on their Facebook pages which isn’t necessarily unique, however what you have listed is. Where do I start? Dog grooming, squirrel breeding, freestyle knitting are just of a few of the band’s special talents and interests? I am speechless. (Laughs)
Jeff/AO: That’s right. So? (laughs)
Rick/RR: Jeff, it has been a pleasure catching up with you. Do you have anything you’d like to add to wrap this up?
Jeff/AO: Above Only has great fans! We have fans that have stuck with us since the beginning as well as our new fans who are becoming part of the AO family! We value and love each one of them and look forward to bringing them with us on this awesome journey! Peace and blessings to all of you! Stay tuned for some new music from Above Only! Over and out.
Rick Lindner, Journalist – RockRevolt™Magazine
Above Only LIVE with Ben Kasica “Evil Never Sleeps”:
Above Only’s “Change” Song:
Above Only’s “Goodbye”:
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