Lineup changes are pretty much de rigueur in the mercurial world of rock bands. And, often as not, they come at the worst times.
In the case of Colorado Springs pop-punk band Why They Fight, the band was all set to go into the studio and record its second EP when vocalist/guitarist Max Barksdale decided to jump ship.
"We have no hard feelings," stresses Why They Fight's Joe Bruno. "There just came a time, after we wrote a whole new EP, where he felt he needed to go his own way and we were going to go ours. So we are starting from scratch."
Following Barksdale's departure, Matt Herman of the recently deceased In Chase for the Sky took over vocal duties, while Bruno switched from drums to guitar. It's this incarnation that released the promising new track, "The Board Is Set, the Pieces Are Moving" a couple weeks ago, and you'll be able to hear them live when they headline the Black Sheep this coming Friday.
"After this show," says Bruno, "we plan to spend the next two months getting a pool of songs to pick from for the next EP." Seth Munson from the band Altars, who recorded Why They Fight's debut EP, Just Listen, will once again be at the production helm.
Meanwhile, since nature apparently abhors a vacuum when it comes to pop-punk EPs, Mtns have stepped into the breach with their own debut, Over It. Released digitally this week via iTunes, Spotify and a bunch of other online outlets, the six-song recording will also be available as an actual physical CD when the band joins Why They Fight — as well as Storylines, The Coast Is Ours and Woolgather — at Friday's Black Sheep show.
Over It showcases the talents of Mtns' founding frontmen Ryan Tuttle and Duncan Slack, who've been playing together since they were high school freshmen four years ago. Their first project, Arcadia, was musically indebted to Paramore ("It was Duncan and I and our little Hayley Williams," laughs Tuttle), while the current band is influenced by alt-rock acts Brand New and All Time Low.
Tuttle and Slack also share a fondness for the semi-charmed recordings of Third Eye Blind.
"On our last day of high school, Duncan and I drove away from the school listening to the song 'Graduate,' just screaming along with it," recalls Tuttle. "And since then we've been constantly working together. Even when Duncan and I were in separate bands, we were pretty much still working together on our own projects."
The band recorded Over It at Studio Novi Sound — whose other local clients include Murder Hat, Ghost Radio and Vital Malice — back when it was still named Mountains. Trademark issues led to the name change, although a Google search for Mtns also turns up an experimental rock band in Seattle and an indie-pop band in Brisbane, Australia.
"There are a lot of other bands called Mtns just strewn around the world," says Slack, "which has worked out pretty well. People will be looking for another Mtns, and then they find us. Over half of our sales are actually coming from Australia.
"We don't know why they're selling in Australia," adds Slack wryly. "We just know that they are."