Meet the unapologetically themselves group Stacked Like Pancakes – Interview

Staked Like Pancakes Vans Warped Tour

It’s easy to see that the 2017 Vans Warped Tour line up is on the heavier side. With punk legends Anti-Flag to Attila, every stage has multiple acts that are nothing like Stacked Like Pancakes. Not only do they have a unique band name (who doesn’t love breakfast foods) but, Stacked Like Pancakes is bringing an entirely different sound to this year’s Warped Tour.

Stacked Like Pancakes are unapologetically themselves on this year’s Warped Tour.

How’s it going today?
Kellen: Good! We thought we were going to be late because the signing at our tent was over an hour. We had a great crowd today.

You guys have a very different sound than a lot of other bands on Warped Tour, how’d you guys get on the tour?
Kellen: I don’t think it was any one thing that happened. I think the beginning of the process for us was when we started going to Launch Music Conference in Lancaster, PA.
Zach: 2014?
Kellen: This past April was the fourth year that we’ve done it.
Zach: Yeah it was 2014. That’s the year we played the first one off…
Kellen: Yeah, we played the smallest stage in the festival. Kevin Lyman spoke on one of the panels in the morning and we were able to meet him. We just threw out there that we were a ska band and we came to find out that Kevin Lyman loves ska. Yeah, so we were feeling pretty good about that.

I remember telling him what our set time was and I can vividly remember him taking out his phone and plugging in our band name, Stacked Like Pancakes, into his calendar. I like blew it off. He’s gonna blow it off, he’s not actually gonna come. He’s just trying to make me feel good. No, he showed up. He showed up to our set. Him and a couple other notable people in the industry also saw our set that day. But, that kinda got the ball rolling when he saw us live. We actually broke that stage a little bit. The power cut out on the stage. But he appreciated how we carried ourselves and managed the situation. Also our music and show.

Ska is a very interesting and different genre, how would you describe it for those who don’t know?
Zach: The way that most people refer to it now has more to do with a band that has a horn section.
Kellen: I get a headache thinking about all the different waves of ska.
Zach: Yeah it’s been around for decades.
Kellen: And everyone is hard set in their opinions.
Zach: If you want to go super technical and it’s super nerdy that I know this. It’s like the Webster Dictionary definition, it’s a style of music that prominently features upbeats.
Kellen: But, if you were to go by the definition, a lot of our music doesn’t have prominent upbeats or any upbeats at all.
Zach: We just have a horn section.
Kellen: Like if you look at our Twitter and Instagram profiles, our tagline is ‘Who cares what our genre is.’ And we try to stay true to that. It’s not that we don’t care about being ska or not being ska. It’s more that it doesn’t matter what genre or label is attached to us.
Zach: I think you just write the song that you’re feeling at the time and whatever genre it is, it is. We have rap songs, we have gospel songs. We have whatever. It’s whatever you’re in the mood for.

You guys look like you have a lot of fun on stage and in music videos. What’s your favorite song to perform or music video you’ve done?
Zach: My favorite music video to do was definitely for Shit Fuck Dammit Dammit. That was a really fun night. We just asked our fans to send us a bunch of stuff.
Kellen: Random items, yeah.
Zach: And that became the music video and we had so much fun with it.
Kellen: And chaos ensued.
Zach: It was not fun to clean up.
Kellen: Oh god that sucked. We shot it super late and we were there until 2am cleaning up.
Zach: We literally vacuumed glitter for an hour and a half.
Kellen: I think my favorite song, ah it changes. With the Warped Tour this year I knew we were going to be doing the song “Laughing At Me.” I kind found a new voice for myself with that style of music, being inspired by Twenty One Pilots. The verses are raped basically. Basically, what happened with me, with listening to Twenty One Pilots, I started to think about – often when I write music I’ll write like one or two or three extra verses that won’t end up being in the song. And some of it I know is really good.

The point is that it’s hard to put all these thoughts into a three, four-minute song. If you’re rapping them, you can say a lot more words more quickly and get some more thoughts out there. I think it took a little bit for me to feel it out a little bit and my voice for it. To be perfectly honest, the track that on our last album “Laughing At Me,” it’s hard for me to listen to. What we’ve been performing for the Warped Tour, it’s a revamped version of it. I suppose. It’s different. It’s heavier. It’s more horns. I think that process was necessary. And I think it’s always healthy to revisit my own music when necessary because I know I might not get it right the first time. And I don’t think I did. But it I’m super happy with how “Laughing At Me” is sounding on this tour as were performing it. It’s the one I get into the most. I really, really feel when we do it.

How’s your songwriting process work then?
Kellen: So I’m actually the sole songwriter.
Zach: They all live right there. [pointing at Kellen’s head]
Kellen: Wow, that’s a good question. I think something I share with so many other songwriters is that I can be inspired by anything. If I’m at work, which we all still have our day jobs, unfortunately. When I’m at work, I’ll probably take like 5 or 6 bathroom breaks throughout the day. One or two of them will be an actual bathroom break and then the other times I’ll be running to the bathroom so that I’m not awkwardly recording thoughts or vocal lines or something in the middle of the office I work at.

But, throughout the day, not just at work, if I’m driving or something I just do the voice memos app on my phone. I have hundreds of voice memos and a lot that I don’t even touch. That’s the beginning for me. As I sleep on these different thoughts, a few of them might clump together and start to become a section of a song. Or it can steam from a single melody in the music if it’s like a horn line I hear in my heart or just the song title. It’s hard to specify how the songwriting process works because to be honest, I think for me the best way that I’ve come to understand it for myself. It feels like when I’m writing a new song, I’m learning how to write a song again. Even saying that out loud it sounds kinda weird. But if I get in the right mindset, when I’m writing the music, it’s all prior writing of songwriting or experiences all goes away. And I kinda just have to learn how to do it again because every song is different.

You mentioned still having your day jobs, how’d you get the time off to work a to join a big tour like this?
Zach: My boss is very, very understanding. I work at a liquor store, and none of the people that work there want that to be the end all, be all for their living. He’s super understanding that we have this opportunity to go and pursue everything. Actually, our old bassist, he’s one of the manager’s there. That helps because he makes the schedule and is my roommate. So I was like hey I’m not going to be here for the these three and a half weeks.
Kellen: I didn’t know he makes your schedule, that’s great. I’m very lucky. I work for a realty company – shoutout to Continental Realty. And the reason I want to give them a shout out is because how supportive they are of me following this passion, this dream. And when I started with the company two and a half years ago, I sat down with my prospective boss. I told her straight up, I have a degree in music. I had no idea that I would be getting to the realty industry. I want to do a great job for you but music is my thing. And I paraphrase. But I was really as truly honest as I could be. I almost wanted to give her every reason to say ‘it’s not worth hiring you.’ She did. I was there full time while we weren’t on tour, for about six months.

Sure enough, we got the Warped Tour in 2015. And I went to her, remember what I said in my job interview. Yeah, I’m going on tour. We figured it out. I’m still employed, I still work there whenever we’re not on tour. I actually got an email from my boss today, ‘so when are you back in August and when can we put you back on the schedule.’ They’re just hugely supportive. And even our CD release show in 2015, I remember it was a sold out show of 450 people, Probably about 50 of those were company employees for the company I work for.
Zach: My boss has us out for his yearly summer party. We’re the entertainment.
Kellen: We all have a lot of really great support. And people understand that this is what we’re trying to do and it takes time. But, we’re getting there.

What’s been your favorite part about Warped Tour?
Zach: There’s so much.
Kellen: The barbecues, the after parties. The after parties after Warped Tour, where there are often barbecues. I’m just super comfortable being by myself. I’ll go to restaurants by myself. I got to movies by myself. I take myself out on dates all the time. Being as independent as I know that I am, just going to the after parties and being among everybody is enough for me. I can just look around and see everyone hanging out with each other. I might not know most of the people there. But to just be there feels so good. Because for such a long time I felt like I was on the other side of things and didn’t know how to get here. And we’re here and I don’t take it for granted and I love every second of it. I still get a little of a rush whenever I walk by Kevin Lyman.

It’s an amazing feeling being among all these people. Also all the bands here, a very wide range of where they are in their journeys. The bigger bands once were at these after parties and stuff, they’re just there. Just like you are. You can run up and talk to them and it’d be like nothing. Everyone’s there, everyone’s on the same level all of a sudden. It feels really good.
Zach: That kinda reminds me that the other day I was backstage at the one show and the singer from Neck Deep came out and he was bitching about the heat just like everyone else was. Like, oh yeah these people are just people. I think that’s my favorite thing about Warped Tour. Is just the access to people. Like this is one of the few places I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to people even if I don’t know who they are.

Like our horn section before we play will take our horns and someone with a sign with our set time and well just run around the whole grounds of the venue and play whatever stupid thing we can come up with. And try to get people to come to our set. It’s just a lot of fun seeing people react to stuff like that. We entered the big atrium here, inside the arena and played the throne room things from Star Wars and people lost their shit.

What’s next for you guys after Warped Tour?
Kellen: We’re looking at a possible tour in the fall. Not 100% confirmed right now. It’s in the world. A couple things happening actually. We shot a brand new music video a couple months ago. There’s a lot of post-production in there with green screen and special effects. We did it in the heart of Baltimore. We really wanted to show our hometown and Baltimore city and stuff. We should be getting that back within the next month. We’re stoked for that. There’s going to be like rocket ships flying out of the city of Baltimore, I think anyways. We were just there in front of a green screen. We’ll see what happens! And there’s another. Two new music videos in the works.
I can tell you 2018, album number 3.

Make sure you’re following Stacked Like Pancakes for exciting announcements in the near future!

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