For those of you looking for the next up and coming band, look no further. “Once Upon a Time,” a punk-pop band from Pheonix, AZ is an upbeat sounding band with catchy lyrics. “OUAT,” for short, recently released their first EP on iTunes this past February titled “Open Your Eyes.” The release has a total of three songs, “What am I Looking For,” “Open Your Eyes,” and “Forever and Ever.” If you are wondering who OUAT sounds like, you might relate their sound to that of Boys Like Girls, The Maine, Every Avenue, and Mayday Parade. The band, Once Upon a Time, was formed in 2011 by Andrew Long (lead vocals). I had the privilege of talking with Andrew about how OUAT was formed, their recent EP release, and the writing/production process.
Andrew, who started seriously writing songs in 2010 for a school project, formed the band in 2011. The band includes Jamie DiCarlo and Keaton Leander on Guitar, Mark Miller on Keys, Bryan Wong on Bass, and Nate Ray on drums. The most unique thing about Once Upon a Time is that the band member’s ages vary from high school to college sophomores.
Andrew addressed how the band finds time to practice given the wide scale of ages and locations, saying, “Honestly I think that’s the biggest challenge that our band faces—that distance there. Four of the six members are in high school—we are literally all over the place. I think that every member in the band is really driven and is really passionate about it so I think it makes it worthwhile. In terms of finding time to practice, Andrew went on to say, “We work it out so that every three weeks we are together for a couple of days and we will spend a full day, about eight hours practicing.” OUAT also uses Skype to practice and bounce song ideas between its members. Andrew went on to add that, “the internet has honestly been our saving grace.” Neither age nor location can keep this band from doing what they love and making a name for themselves, especially since each member has a small studio to work in at their house.
Getting the EP out on iTunes didn’t happen over night. OUAT had help producing their EP from Jamie Woolford and Matt Grabe. OUAT’s “Open your eyes, ” Andrew explained, “was recorded with Jamie Woolford and he was really awesome. He’s worked with bands like Gin Blossoms, who were huge in the ’90s, and Hit the Lights. And then the CD was mixed by Matt Grabe who has worked with some of our favorite bands like The Maine, The Summer Set, and A Rocket to the Moon. We put a lot into it because we had a vision of how we wanted it to be but we are very grateful for their help.”
When I asked about the band’s official photos and cover art, Andrew told me that OUAT had the privilege of working with photographer, Merek Davis. Davis, who has also shot for the band, A Change of Pace, took the picture below and others that you can check out on OUAT’s facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/iamonceuponatimeas. Davis also designed the cover art (above) for “Open Your Eye’s.”
Speaking of other bands, Andrew and I talked about his music preferences and those of the other band members and who they draw inspiration from, if anyone. I can’t say that we would agree on any band we find inspiration from—our band is all over the place as far as musical taste goes. There is usually one member who doesn’t like a band that everyone else likes. I’m into some really, really poppy stuff. Our drummer, Nate, is into really heavy stuff and Keaton is into more indie stuff. This makes it cool because everyone adds their own flair and makes us more unique.” Andrew said that his two favorite bands include The Summer Set and Mayday Parade. “My dream would be to open for one of them.”
Even though they may not agree on the music they like to listen to, Andrew said that the band as a whole is very big on writing from personal experiences. As mentioned above, Andrew started writing music in high school, he said, “I had several music projects throughout my high school years where I idolized bands and put out replica songs of what they did.” Andrew went on to comment about these replica songs saying that they turned out ok, but didn’t really have any personal value in them.
As they are writing songs for their next EP, Andrew explained a little bit about how their writing process is today. “We literally just started the lyrical process of writing for the next record right now and I forgot how stressful it can be. We usually start out with the music and then I will go from there depending on if it is a happy song or a depressing song. We have the music first and we set the emotion and then I pick exactly what it’s going to be about.” However, Andrew made sure to clarify that he tries to, “leave [the song] as open-ended as possible so people can relate to it.” The next release from “Once Upon a Time” will be an EP as well. When I asked about a full CD, Andrew said, “It will probably be difficult to come out with a CD because it takes me so long to finish writing a song because I am a perfectionist.”
Perfectionist or not, the band has gained quite a few followers based on the EP, “Open Your Eyes” alone. The most recent count of “likes” on Facebook totals 5,953 and a total of 20,355 followers on twitter. Aside from social media, the band is willing to do some grunt work in order to get their name out there. In fact, Andrew said, “when we are all together and don’t have anything to do the band will go to the mall and just hand out flyers to people, asking them if they would be interested in listening to our music.” Given the number of followers and comments on Facebook, I would say their marketing tactics seem to be working.
OUAT will be playing a concert April 7th in Arizona to celebrate the release of their EP, “Open Your Eyes.” I asked Andrew what exactly a CD release concert entails and he answered saying, “the concert in April is more of a celebration than anything else. It will probably be one of the most laidback, unorganized shows we’ve played. Mostly it’ll just be friends and family and people who know who we are. I have no idea how big the turnout will be but like I said, it’s not something we are really worried about—it’s just going to be a really good time.” So if you happen to be in the area, mark your calendars.
If you like what you hear from Once Upon a Time, you can get a free download of their song, “What am I Looking For” by “liking” them on Facebook. OUAT also has contests for followers to win free merchandise, such as wristbands
Every band has to start somewhere; From the amount of followers OUAT has gained at such a rapid pace, there is no doubt that Once Upon a Time won’t continue to grow and produce great music as they continue to get their name out there for listeners. To listen to the full EP, check them out on iTunes, and of course, continue to support them via Facebook, twitter, and by voting for them to play at Warped Tour this summer at http://warped.battleofthebands.com/u/iamonceuponatime. Lastly, you can also show Once Upon a Time your support if you want them to play in your city by joining http://onceuponatime.fanbridge.com/.