Introducing… The Summer Switch
The Summer Switch are a quintet straight out of Albany, New York. With Tony Pitkin as vocalist, Eric Rosen on bass, Ryan Wager on drums and Ian Dorset and Ethan Rose on guitars, The Summer Switch are definitely making a name for themselves. They’ve opened for acts like Breathe Carolina and The Ready Set, and have played a ton of house shows around New York to get their name out there. It’s clear The Summer Switch are a band who breathe, eat and sleep music - something slightly rare these days. Rachel caught up with Tony Pitkin to talk plans for 2012, how The Summer Switch came to be The Summer Switch and a ton more!
What inspired you to start up a career in music?
Well if we go all the way back to the beginning back in 5th grade me and my buddies did an air-band (fake guitars and blow up microphones) to “American Idiot” and we had so much fog on stage that we set off the smoke alarm. That was when I had first realized how awesome music was. My first time performing music came after I decided to play a talent show in 8th grade in my middle school. I sang “Hey There Delilah” with my friend Mike on guitar and I forgot basically all of the words, it was great. But from that point forward I just continued to pursue it through the help of my friends and family I’ve gotten to where I am now. I know Ryan started at a very young age playing in a hardcore band with Eric. I know Ethan played Jazz mostly through his high school and grew up addicted to bands like A Day To Remember and Four Year Strong. Ian was really the only one who came out of nowhere. It was sort of like one day he opened his mouth when we were both in our old band and everyone had the same reaction, “You can sing!?!?”
You’re called The Summer Switch, where did the idea for the name come from, and is there a story behind it?
Honestly, we pulled it out of thin air. We were sitting around trying to come up with a name and this was the only thing that seemed to sit well! We wanted to go with the same The Summer Set but when we did a Google search we realized that was already a band. We almost went with it figuring we’d never run into that band and the name probably wasn’t licensed but of course it’s a good thing we didn’t since last November we played with them…we would’ve had to fight to the death for the name. Actually the management probably would’ve just sued…and we would’ve lost…and stuck with The Summer Switch.
You hail originally from New York, what’s the local music scene like there, for instance playing shows and fanbases and such?
Whenever you say you’re from “New York” people always think the city but we actually come from across the Albany area in various little suburban type towns all within about 30 minutes of each other. The scene has been struggling. I remember growing up and seeing All Time Low played there at least once a year, Fall Out Boy came into town all the time, I mean we got every popular “pop-punk” band of the time. We certainly don’t get nearly as much anymore, it seems the local scene has shifted to dubstep and electronic shows but those shows seem to get an unbelievable turnout around here. It seems to be improving but it’s always been tough with us being the middle point between places like Syracuse, Poughkeepsie and obviously, New York.
The band has thousands of likes on Facebook, do you think the internet is important in the modern age for getting bands out there? What do you think life would be like for upcoming bands without it?
I think it’s one of the most important aspects of getting your name out there. It certainly isn’t the ONLY way to get your name out there. You look at big bands on the scene now, The Wonder Years, Transit, The Story So Far, the all built their names by going out and playing in people’s basements, certainly a much different approach than much of the traditional pop-punk bands like Mayday Parade or All Time Low took. I think now though with so much out there, you could have the biggest name on the web but if your live show is still shit and you only bring 5 of those thousands of Facebook fans to any given show than it doesn’t really matter. Because social media is SO powerful kids think just because you have a big number of Facebook likes that that translates to huge crowds and that their band needs to go on tour but that isn’t the way things work. You have to have some reason to draw people, some sort of energy or “X” factor on stage I feel. The Wonder Years got where they are now because Soupy is one of the best frontmen in the scene, and often times it seems like some of the best bands out there have this uncanny ability to control the stage. The being said, we’re still learning and growing just as I feel every band is. I’m sure they still go to shows and go, “God, that was really cool, we need to do shit like that!” It’s always in a constant state of change, but ultimately you have to have some way to reach out to kids, either online, by having a kick-ass live show or both.
You’ve just released your EP, ‘All That Matters’, what was the writing and recording process like? How has the reaction to the EP been?
We put our hearts and souls into this release,as every band does with their newest release, and I feel like the progress shows from our old stuff. We learned a lot in the studio during our debut EP, a lot about how the industry works and how bands are making their way in this vast world of “social media”. So I feel like going into this record we knew what we wanted out of it and the types of songs we wanted to create. We all drew from what we had learned over our first year or so as a band, both the good and bad, and really tried to be our harshest critics all the time. I feel like doing so has helped us produce an EP that we take a great amount of pride in and I think these songs blow the old ones out of the water, and I think anyone who knows our old material and new would agree that our growth and maturing as people and musicians has helped us rather than hurt us.
What has it been like, being a band in the recession?
It’s tough. One of the easiest ways to get big shows is to sell lots of tickets. The only way you sell tickets is by getting people to come to your shows and building a name…something that costs time and money. I think people not having excess money to spend on shows has forced kids to pick and choose the ones they attend. We worked our tails off to trudge through that uphill battle, and we still are. There isn’t one show where we don’t worry that there might be nobody there, it’s just the nature of the scene and the economy. I think we’re all generally pretty optimistic though that eventually things are going to turn around but until then we’re just making sure we’re as smart as possible with our money and what we spend it on.
What band would you say your sound is similar to, for those who haven’t heard of you before?
Ok so we have never really successfully been able to describe our sound to people so let me tell you some of things we’ve heard people say: Four Year Strong, Mayday Parade, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New (their earlier stuff), The Wonder Years, I don’t know, I just think the only way to figure it out is to take a listen for yourself. Music is all relative so I know when I listen to something I’ll hear different similarities to other artists than the other four guys might.
What do you guys have lined up for 2012?
Well we’re currently ironing out the details for a two week summer tour with a band called Look North from just outside Providence, RI. They’re all really great dudes and we’re psyched to head out with them this summer. We’ll be gone for two weeks along the east coast with them and we’re looking to try and do something later into the summer as well with a different set of guys, not quite sure yet, that’s all still up in the air. I think while everyone’s been away at school we’ve all come up with our own material and snip-its of songs and I think there’s a good chance we’ll be releasing some new material early this fall.
What has been your snapshot perfect moment in your time working in music so far?
I know for me my snapshot moment has hands down been playing with Breathe Carolina and Big Chocolate at The Lost Horizon in Syracuse, NY. It was such an unreal experience having kids who had never listened to our music before singing back the words and trying to learn them as we played. There was just so much love and so many great people in that town and we’re really excited to be heading back there this month to play with Set Your Goals, Cartel and Hit The Lights on Saturday, April 7th. We made a lot of great friends that night though and we’re really hoping to see many of the same faces and some new ones too. We love playing music for people who genuinely care about listening to it and I don’t think any of us would disagree that there’s no greater feeling that sharing those moments with some of your best friends. I know it sounds cliche but its the truth and we’re all proud to say it.