A Skylit Drive

By Andy

We recently caught up with Jag Jagmin, ultra-sonic vocalist of California’s A SKYLIT DRIVE. He shares his thoughts on their new album, ‘Identity On Fire’ and what it’s like touring with boyhood idols.

Hi Jag, where in the world are you today?

We are in Atlanta, Georgia playing at The Masquerade.

You’re currently on the road with Underoath, Thursday and Animals As Leaders in the US. How have the shows been going?

The shows have been great! Even though the tour is almost over, I still don’t think it’s fully sunk in that I’ve been on the road with these amazing bands for the past month. I’m sure as soon as we’re on our way home is when it’ll all hit me.

Sharing the stage with Underoath and Thursday who are both iconic bands in the alternative scene – was that a daunting prospect to begin with? Were you worried about how Thursday/Underoath fans may have perceived you?

Both Thursday and Underoath took huge parts in all of our lives by turning us onto this style of music. I can easily say I wouldn’t be doing things exactly how I’m doing them now without having looked up to both bands. So, on that note it was extremely daunting at first, but after meeting the guys and seeing how down to earth they all are, all that went away. Now I can comfortably say we’re all friends, and they’ll all be missed at the end of the tour. As for the fans response, we were a little worried, but that’s what doing these tours is all about. We know it’s not our show by a long shot. This tour was an opportunity for us to gain new listeners. Maybe even some people in the crowd who previously weren’t fans were maybe turned into one after seeing us live. We’re just grateful to be given the opportunity to play with such great bands and for their fans.

So the new album, ‘Identity On Fire’. It follows on from ‘Adelphia’ which was a proper ‘concept’ album, based around the idea of a fictional city. Does ‘Identity On Fire’ tie into any of that mythology? Does it follow its own story or is it a more personal, direct record lyrically?

‘Identity On Fire’ definitely strays away from the lyrical style ASD has produced in the past. Before, we always went for a more ‘story book’, fictional, out of this world style of telling a story (all relating to something real, but not that easy to figure out the true meaning). On ‘Identity On Fire’ we really wanted to be as real as possible, so we wrote about all kinds of things either we as a band have gone through or at least something we know we’ve all been through on our own. Listeners should find it very easy to relate to a lot of lyrics on this album.

What does the symbol on the album’s artwork signify?

It’s our own rendition of the infinity symbol. It’s our way of saying anything can last forever if you really want to. All you have to do is make it happen.

How would you say A Skylit Drive’s sound has progressed since ‘Adelphia’? Do you think ‘Identity On Fire’ will surprise long-time fans of A Skylit Drive?

I feel we’ve all matured greatly since Adelphia. Also, the amount of time we were given to make this record greatly surpassed that given to us for Adelphia. As we get older we’re of course going to learn new things, and explore all different kinds of music styles. With that, from just living day-to-day we’ve improved.

How did the recording process of the record pan out this time around? When/where was it recorded? How was Cameron Webb to work with?

Well, as I said before we had a lot more time to make this album, which was awesome! The studio we recorded at was called Maple Studios, and it’s located in Santa Ana, California. Working with Cameron was definitely different for us, but it’s what we needed. It was nice to have a coach. It helps to have some guidance when it’s tough placing the right ideas.

What made you decide to work with him this time around as opposed to going back to Casey Bates who produced ‘Adelphia’?

We did our Journey cover song with him, and really enjoyed working with him. It’s really as simple as that, ha!

What were the biggest challenges recording/writing this record?

We knew we had to surpass everything we had done. We had to make the record that would define us, and I think we pulled it off.

Which songs are you proudest of on the record and why?

My personal favourite is ‘Ex marks the spot’. I like this song the most because it encompasses everything we do as a band. I’m extremely proud of the acoustic track ‘Black & Blue’ which is one of the bonus tracks on iTunes. We had never done a song like it, so it was a new experience giving it a shot.

Are there any tracks that on reflection you’re not completely happy with?

Musicians and all kinds of artists who truly love their art will never be truly happy with it. We’ll always find the flaws, ha!

There’s a track called ‘500 Days Of Bummer’ on there. What’s that about?

It definitely is the saddest song on the album, so it rightfully deserves the name. It’s about missing how things used to be, back when they were better, easier or more fun. We just thought it would be fun to do a spin off of the movie title.

You’re heading back out on the Vans Warped Tour this year. How much are you looking forward to that? How much more preparation is involved for such a long stint on the road?

We’re extremely excited for Warped Tour this year! Warped of 09 was one of my favourite summers, so getting to do it again is an honour. On top of that, so many friends of ours are also on the tour, so it’ll be a blast. Getting prepared for Warped is similar to other tours. The big difference for me is stocking up on sunblock, making sure I’ve got some killer shades, and that’s about it.

Can we expect ASD back in the UK before then? Any dates you can tentatively confirm for us yet?

We ARE coming back to the UK sometime this year, but I can’t say when or with who. I’m sure it will be announced in due time.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]