Las Vegas pop-punk outfit High Sierra Club recently released the music video for “Waiting,” and will release their self-titled EP on December 13.
“Waiting” is about hitting the ‘pause button’ because you don’t know what to do, but know you need to do something, and it better be the right thing, but it involves change — the kind of pressure that suffocates you if you’re not careful.
Made up of Matthew Mosca (guitar, vocals), Jacob Grabner (bass), and Lyle Carter (drums), Mosca and Grabner hooked up via Twitter DM, while Carter was added to the line-up via low-tech: an ad on the message board at the local Guitar Center.
According to Mosca, “Hustle is the game,” an assertion confirmed by the band’s going from literally having nothing to play at their first few practices to putting out a music video, along with an EP.
While interviewing the trio, I discovered them to be very refreshing: they admit to being human, and don’t apologize for it. Yet at the same time, like all of us, they’re trying to be better people.
I like these guys. And their music kicks ass.
What’s the band’s musical backstory? And how did you come to get together?
All 3 of us happened to be looking for strangers to play music with, because we all had no other choice.
Matt: I had just finished college baseball and came back to Las Vegas, but I knew I was going to start a music project for the last few years prior. I put feelers out on the internet and hung up ads at Guitar Center, too.
Jake: I saw a clip on Twitter of an original tune that Matt had uploaded, I liked it and decided to message him and we agreed to play together next weekend. Turns out he lived in a different state. Several months later I get a message from Matt and it turns out he had moved to Vegas and lived only five minutes away. Matt and I hung out and the rest is history for us.
Who is in the band (names) and what instruments do they play? Who is the lead vocalist?
Matthew Mosca (guitar, lead vocals), Jacob L. Grabner (bass), Lyle Carter (drums)
What are the dynamics of the band like? Does the band run like a democracy, everybody has a vote and majority rules? Or is it a benevolent dictatorship? Or something in between?
Well, we live together. So it’s something like a family. We’re a team in the sense that we have the same goals, but we have different responsibilities. We don’t talk about very decision, but we all agree that hustle is the game and we want to make the most of our opportunities. So we trust each other to make decisions with that in mind.
What’s your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?
Matt: It’s funny because this is where I practice most often. I have a list of songs I like to sing, and a lot of them are songs by The Story So Far: “Clairvoyant,” “Solo,” “Out of It,” “Nerve.” But also “Passing Through A Screen Door” by The Wonder Years, “Daylily” by Movements… But “It’s Better If You Do” by Panic! At The Disco is especially fun for me to sing. There’s more but I’ve practiced these the most.
What musicians/vocalists influenced you the most?
Matt: Definitely Parker Cannon from The Story So Far, Brendon Urie from Panic!, and Derek Discanio from State Champs.
Jake: A lot of my influence on bass comes from Justin Chancellor (Tool) or Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), and of course, Victor Wooten. Honorable Mentions: Jaco Pastorius, Geddy Lee. These players helped break bass out of the meat & potatoes role that it’s designed to do.
What kind of guitar do you play? And why?
Matt: I’ve played the same black Gibson SG for like a decade. I’m attached to it at this point now. But it’s a super durable and high quality guitar, sounds good, and it’s comfortable. I like how small the body is. I can jump around with it!
Jake: I play an Ibanez SR Premium bass. I played it originally because I got a good deal on it from my former boss and I didn’t actually own one yet. I ended up falling in love with the bass and in turn, the company, they have a great reputation.
What kind of drums and cymbals does your drummer play?
Lyle: Currently I’m playing the Gretsch Catalina Club series, and Sabian cymbals. The drum shells have a great warm and punchy tone to them, and the cymbals complement that, with not being too bright. I have a preference for dark sounding cymbals. The snare is an OCDP Maple Vented snare. It cuts through all the noise and has a great pop to it.
What was the inspiration for your debut single/video “Waiting?”
Matt: The main concept is about picking yourself up and embracing change, even if it’s hard. I remember having the bands Can’t Swim and Real Friends in my head the day I came up with the first guitar parts.
Jake: My inspiration for this song started innocently, as it does with all songs, I just want to play something fun. Once we wrap it up and put a bow on top I gain confidence knowing we achieved something, and that inspires me to continue writing more songs.
The video for “Waiting” is gorgeously stark, set in a cement basin. What do you want viewers to take away from the video?
Matt: We need to shout out our videographer Kirstin for that (@kirstinv_ on instagram). She had the idea for the location and did all the camera work. We had the ideas for the shirts though. I think we look like different flavors of popsicles. I just want people to enjoy how sparkly the video is, but also I hope they dig the music and that someone can relate to the lyrics.
What is your songwriting process? Does the music come first and then the lyrics?
Matt: The instrumentals have almost always come first with us because we started literally from scratch. We didn’t want to play covers, so we just wrote lots of instrumentals at our practice space for 3 months or so. I majored in English and didn’t finish, so I shied away from writing for a little. I felt like I wasn’t really good enough to explore poetry or lyricism because I didn’t get the degree or something. When we FIRST started, Jake actually forced us to make a goal to write and finish just one song, no matter how bad it was. We had a couple band practices where we sucked terribly and had nothing to play. But again, hustle is the game!
You have an EP coming out in December. What can you tell us about it?
Matt: That it’s almost out already! December 13th is the release date. This was always the goal, and it’s our first little milestone. The EP is a toast to reaching outside your comfort zone, and a testament to what hard work and small goals will lead to. Our timeline from writing one song together to this first release has one-thousand landmarks in between it. I’m hoping it can help someone address their problems and learn from them, instead of ruminate forever.
Any plans to tour?
We’re headed to California on 2/8 and 2/9 for the “Two Shows is a Tour” Tour. It’s our first one. We also are looking to tour anywhere in California, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado in April 2020. We have no other details yet on that though.