Welcome Back: An Interview with Stages and Stereos

Stages and Stereos. You should know the name- if you didn’t before, it’ll be a name you can’t forget.

Since forming in 2007 it’s been one long roller coaster ride for the band, but after announcing their second hiatus after the Glamour Kills Tour in 2013, no one was quite sure if we’d hear from Stages and Stereos again. After 2016 being a year of uncertainty, no one knew what to expect once the clock struck midnight on the last night of December.

In Mid January, Stages and Stereos fans were blessed with the news that the band was working on new music, ending their four year hiatus. The Tallahassee, Florida pop punk band has slimmed down to a trio composed of Daniel Lancaster, Rucker Sasser, and Stephen Elwell.

The news of new music took the fandom by storm as fans expressed their excitement not only for the upcoming material but also, to see the band back in action. After four years of musical silence Stages and Stereos are ready to take another swing at things and fans are eager to stand behind them.

I had the opportunity to chat with Daniel, Rucker and Stephen about their journey to get where they are now and what to expect from them as the year goes on.

Also be sure to check out Stages and Stereos’ two new singles Codependent and Remember You (videos available below). If that’s not enough click here to listen to Stages and Stereos older, but just as great, material. Be sure to follow the band on Twitter as well @stagesandstereos.

Stages and Stereos (left to right: Stephen Elwell, Daniel Lancaster, and Rucker Sasser).

  You guys were on a hiatus for a while and just recently announced that you’re working on new material, what inspired you to come off of that hiatus?

Daniel: “It was a few different things, I guess the stars just aligned in a way- everything began to make sense. Personal situations were settled and we came together knowing that this is what we wanted to do. It was a break up that was bound to happen, but coming back we all understood what needed to be done. It’s also just Rucker, Stephen, and myself now which seems to help the process flow much smoother because we’re also great friends. We’re just ready to strive a little harder.”

Stages and Stereos isn’t signed to a record label, has it ever been a challenge to release your music or do you prefer going through the process independently?

Daniel: “It’s a huge challenge to release your music independently. It gives you different freedoms that you wouldn’t typically get with a record label, but it also leaves you without the guidance that a record label provides. Our funding can also be an issue when not signed to a label. Funding a record is a huge challenge and writing that record while you’re also working a day job to pay your bills can also be extremely difficult, but it’s a labor of love.”

How do you normally find your funding for your records?

Daniel: “We have to be crafty, we’ve had to hustle. It’s usually not from just one source, but if you work hard enough in the band- marketing and trying to sell your previous records you can usually get enough funds to start the next. After that everything else just happens as it happens.”

When you hit a writer’s block, what do you do to get pass it?

Daniel: “This go around we haven’t hit one yet.”

Rucker:(laughs) “Don’t jinx us Sophie.”

Daniel: “Usually just to complete whatever you’re working on you would force apart and in turn ruin the rest of the song- the potential of it.”

Rucker: “We also have all three of us this time and we’ve been working incredibly well together. If one of us has an issue with the writing process, we’ll typically bring it to the table and work on them together which is why we really haven’t had a road block. Typically, if we do run into something, it’s probably because we’ve been working on a song for hours on end till it’s 2am and we’re at the point where we just need to sleep.”

Daniel: “We’ve been working at least five days a week on this material. It started out with the pure desire to be with your friends and play music again, we didn’t completely know how serious it would get, but we haven’t stopped writing. Usually six days a week we hang out, and it’s hard to write a record if you’re not that close to your band mates. It’s so much easier when your friends are right there next to you writing with you.”

Mayday Parade and Go Radio came out of Tallahassee, FL as well, considering your relation did you have any trouble branding yourself and your band, or does it work in your favor?

Daniel: “We grew up together and have known the guys in Mayday for a long time. Being able to have access to talented smart people to converse about music with, you can learn so much. I learned a lot from growing up around those guys, but at the same time the shadow that my brother (Jason Lancaster, former vocalist/guitarist of Mayday Parade and Go Radio) can cast was the debt. It just made me strive to get better, to get out of it. Way more positive things came out of those relationships than negative now that I’m looking back on it. It’s been beneficial and just great.

Rucker: “Very supportive.”

Daniel: “Yeah, very supportive. They always looked out for us 100%.”

Small Town Favorites was the last EP Stages and Stereos released, where did you find the inspiration to write the EP? Do you have any interesting stories about the process of writing it?     

Daniel: “Each song comes from a unique place. The future was very vague so we just went with the flow. We had presented our ideas to one another and worked through them, picking through a litter of songs to find those that were the most consistent. The title track is about growing up in a small town and wanting to get out of the small town. Then you have a song about what you would do at the end of the world and there was no way you could save yourself. The inspirations are just things that have happened in the past or are presently happening, you need to draw inspiration from what’s around you.

Rucker: “The world has ended before Daniel?”

Daniel: “No it’s what you would do. Maybe… maybe it’s ended before Rucker- the universe is wild, (laughs). The new inspiration has been coming from things that are currently happening. They’re honest songs and we haven’t been filtering ourselves lyrically. This is what we want to say so we’re going to say it, there’s nothing to lose.”

Rucker: “It’s been an easy working environment as far as writing goes. If two people like a song and one doesn’t- no one is going to get offended if they’re out voted. We’ll pick away at the song and find what works.”

Daniel: “We haven’t even been split like that yet. We decide on what’s best for the song, you have to put your ego aside and think about where you want the song to go. When it comes to writing it’s the three of us- The Trinity, that’s what we call ourselves- that’ll be doing it.”

What advice would you give to prospective musicians on how to be successful in the music industry today?

Daniel: “Well, the music industry is changing so fast and so much. You honestly just have to study all aspects of the business. There’s just so much more to it than hanging out and writing music with your friends, like I wish it was that easy, but it’s not.”

Rucker: “It’s constantly changing as far as to get your name out there. There’s so many platforms now. Back in the day the main thing was MySpace and you’d get on there and add everyone and anyone you could till MySpace was like you have to stop doing this, you hit the limit, you’re a terrible person (laughs). And now it’s all about constantly staying on people’s [social media] feed. You can’t post a song or leak an album and say ‘Okay, that’s it. Hope you like it.’ You have to constantly be producing new content, you just can’t stop.”

Daniel: “Don’t worry about making music because it’s selling at the moment. That’ll get you into a whole mess of trouble, you’ll end up sounding like another factory version of The 1975 or Fall Out Boy and by the time you get to that level the industry is already saturated with thousands of other bands that sound like you. Just have a wide variety of influence and stay true to it when you’re writing a song.”

What’s the “most rockstar” thing you’ve ever done?

Daniel: “I remember playing a show and it was getting pretty loose in the crowd, there was some crowd surfing ad little fights popping off. I saw this guy coming close to the front of the stage about to deck someone that wasn’t looking and I yelled out, ‘Someone get this mother fucker out of here!’ and about five people just dragged him out of the club. I just felt very in control of the situation- definitely felt like a rockstar. They might’ve beaten him up out there, but hey I never saw him again.”

Stephen: “It must’ve been when I was on tour with Stages, must’ve been the Glamour Kills Tour, I was 21 and a record executive took us to a strip club. It was my very first strip club and he hooked me up, but that’s all I’m saying about it.”

Rucker: “I don’t really have any crazy rockstar moments.”

Daniel: “I have one for Rucker! We had parted ways with our drummer while we were on the road and we picked Rucker up, he had no rehearsal-nothing. He came in and slayed it. I have one for Stephen too. He’s rockstar moment, well he was only 16 when he started touring with us.”

Stephen: “I was 16, it was like 2006 or 2007, I think I had just turned 17 when we started touring and I was in the band till around 2009/2010 and then I had left- but they obviously kept on going for a while after that.”

Daniel: “Yeah, this band has been through some different line-ups big time. It worked out now, it’s a good one. It’s two hometown friends, close friends, that were there for the beginning of it. They understand the idea. I think it all had to happen for us to be here.”

What should fans be expecting from you guys in 2017?

Rucker: “We’re going to try and push out a decent amount of content through social media about every month.”

Daniel: “Rucker has it right on, we want to just share everything we do with with everyone who cares.”

Rucker: “We’re going to try and push out a song a month, maybe so a cover here and there. Eventually working towards doing videos with the songs, whether they be live videos of us playing them or content with the song involved. It’s all a matter of getting everything together and putting it out on social media.”

Daniel: “We’ll have major control over our workflow. The faster we get the more we can share. We won’t be sitting in a room wondering ‘Is this song good enough to put out?’ As we finish it we’re just going to release it. We’re going to be a little unorthodox this time around on how we carry and present ourselves. There’s this formula: take a picture of a band standing next to each other with these sour faces in a dimmed lit parking lot at night- and that concept is just so saturated in the music scene. Saturated with dishonesty. We’re just going to be who we are- no pretentious front, just the real Stages and Stereos. Fans are going to be getting something new every month!”

Do you guys have any plans to go on tour anytime soon?

Daniel: “If the opportunity presents itself and we can get to a level where we can tour without it burning us out, then yeah.”

Rucker: (laughs) “Without living in a van eating Taco Bell every day.”

Daniel: “I’m cool with the van and Taco Bell.”

Rucker: “Sure, but coming home and not having money is not an easy thing for us to do.”

Daniel: “We’re not asking to be wealthy, but it’d be less of a headache to not have to come home and start our lives over with having little to nothing. We all have to support ourselves. I don’t think we’ll be doing a headliner anytime soon, but we’re going to be playing as much as possible especially with neither of us having anything to tie us down.”

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Daniel: “Thank you to anyone that has stuck around or anyone who likes what we’re doing Thank you for being there, it’s incredibly motivating to have people care about whether or not you make music. And just get ready.”

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