Like a shooting star bursting through the heavens, Against Tomorrow's Sky lit up Colorado Springs' nightlife with a dangerously powerful live show and an intensely infectious debut EP. ATS seemed poised on the edge of something really big.
Then, almost as quickly as it appeared, it was gone.
Now, with former members Mike Nipp and Jeff Fuller blowing minds with El Toro de la Muerte, Mike Stephens leading the indescribable Loverleigh, and Shawn Stafford helping family back in Texas, it seemed high time to lay reunion rumors to rest. I sat down with the two Mikes in the men's lavatory at The Rocket Room, between sets by Abracastabya and Thruster, Nipp's other, other band. Below is an excerpt of that conversation.
Indy: So what's the deal with ATS?
MN: It was awesome, and it was good while it lasted, and it taught each and every one of us a lot.
MS: We had a lot of time to get back together and it just didn't work out that way, and we are all in bands we like now just as much. Besides, people change, musicians change, and I think it's cool that our new bands sound nothing like ATS, because that would be boring.
MN: In ATS, I expected something to happen, and now I don't. Especially with a kid now, I just like having fun and being a dad who can rock. It made me focus on something different. It's not what I can do with my life, but what I can do to make life good for my son and my wife. It's not Mike Nipp and what I can do to make it happen for myself.
Indy: Oh man, are we all growing up?
MS: When ATS went from being just a handful of friends coming to see the show, and then it kind of evolved, and all of a sudden there were a hundred kids we didn't know showing up, and they were singing our songs and stuff, I got a little taste. I can see why "rock star" is the most coveted job in the world. And it wasn't even just about any fame or fortune. But it was cool to have people get off on some little song I wrote on my bed. So for that reason, you know, who doesn't want to be a rock star? But in this town it's kind of cool that you can just be a musician and go to shows and watch your friend's bands and have fun, and there is nothing wrong with that.
MN: One of the most important things about playing in bands, and being a musician, is the exchange of energy you get from people, which was what we got the hugest taste of in ATS, the force of energy you can give people by just grabbing something and doing riffs.
MS: A lot of people always give us shit, like we thought we were the "be all end all." At the end of the day, I hope that people got from us that we got on stage and had fun. And we really were grateful that those kids came to our show. I just like to play music. I have always told Mike, "I am going to keep playing 'til I get booed off the stage."
It's just fun, you know, and if you're a musician and you've been there on stage, you know how addicting it is to get up there and express yourself like that and have people dig it. You know, it's a gift. It really is ...
MN: We had a good run. It was fun, and it was just crazy. And it was rad to get a little taste of that, but sometimes a taste is all you need. And I just want to say that I truly think that we have a real scene right now. Not that we didn't before, but it's been building and we have solid bands.
MS: And one cool thing about a small scene is that everyone's friends. It's not like Austin, where there's a hundred shows a night. When I went to Austin it was cutthroat out there, and bands weren't friends. There are a lot of good bands now. I'm not just saying this, but when I first saw Toro, man ... them and Eyes Caught Fire they could go against any band in the country.
See Toro, along with Eyes Caught Fire and Denver's The Still City, at Jack Quinn's on New Year's Eve. Or, for a distinctly mellower New Year's, catch Loverleigh's set at Shuga's, with James Germain and pint-sized songster Matt Larimer's new project, Reluctant Discomfort.
Smell you next year!
Wanna blow up like ATS did? Let Adam help you. Send your band's show info, photos and demos to firstname.lastname@example.org.