At the Skylines Smash the Screamo Stereotype

The Huntington Beach metal/hardcore outfit At the Skylines are poised for a national breakthrough. They've just released a debut LP, The Secrets to Life, on Roadrunner Records (the heavy-metal arm of Warner Music Group) and will hit the road—hard—for the next few months on the Scream It Like You Mean It Tour with 10 (!) other bands this July.

Traveling is no big deal for the OC sextet; they spent a month in Sweden with legendary djent producer Fredrik Nordström (who also coined the subgenre!) in post-production for their new record. On the road for the past month and a half, they've been playing the East Coast club circuit with British thrashers Enter Shikari.

At the Skylines are psyched for this weekend's homecoming and album-release show. After all, it was written in OC by soaring melodic vocalist Chris Shelley and his solar-plexus-rattling counterpart, Mark Barela. We caught up with Barela to talk about the band's sound, Sweden and life on the road.


OC Weekly: What was the initial vision for the group going into your first rehearsal?

Mark Barela: The vision was to incorporate all the types of music we loved into one style.


What are the advantages and the disadvantages of having two front men?

It allows us to pull off two extreme sides of the spectrum. Musically, it allows us to sound tighter and have more of a dynamic. The biggest con is having two giants share such little space most of the time. [Laughs.] It can also clash with capturing the crowd at certain parts in songs. We are slowly but surely getting it down, though. We are still such a young band and can only go up from here.


Screamo is the genre tag that has been applied to your sound thus far. Can you expound on what that label means to you?

Screamo is the term old people use because they are uninformed about the music scene. My dad calls it screamo. [Laughs.] We are a post-hardcore band with touches of different styles. In the end, it's just a label. No big deal.


I might prefer referring to your sound as “djent.” What do you think?

I think, down the line, we may cross into that plateau. In all respect to djent artists, we do not consider ourselves a djent act. We love bands such as Meshuggah, Vildhjarta and Periphery, though, and definitely find inspiration from their music.


Speaking of Meshuggah, you guys flew to Sweden to record your most recent album.

We flew out there to work with legendary producer Fredrik Nordström. His tones and sounds were raw and very organic, and we just wanted a real-sounding record. He was perfect and produced exactly what we had in mind.


What was the vodka scene like?

What a lot of people don't understand is that we get a lot of the same vodkas here. The expensive stuff here is the cheap stuff there. It was The Twilight Zone.

I dig the track “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts.” Who's the Friday Night Lights fan?

We have all seen the movie, and I grew up playing football—among other sports. We just liked the meaning behind it. It brings back childhood memories of going to games and whatnot.


This column appeared in print as “Swell Djents.”

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