We’d be remiss if we didn’t begin by saying tickets for our first-ever Frederick Music Showcase are now officially on sale over at the Weinberg website. 10 bucks gets you a glass, a ticket and the night of your life. Pretty great deal, right? Right.
But back to business. Signs Point East. Have you ever heard of them? Because you should have by now. They’re pretty great. They’re from Frederick. And they’re also playing at the Ottobar in Baltimore on Sunday as part of Gorilla Music’s “Best Of Baltimore” event. They are offering up tickets, complete with a party bus ride to and from the show, over in their corner of the World Wide Internet, so you ought to hop on over there to check it out yesterday. We caught up with the guys in the band recently to talk about the Frederick music scene, how the band started, and what we can expect from their show in Baltimore this weekend:
How did Signs Point East come about? I’ve read a lot of stuff online and I’ve seen how much you get out to tour (and how frequent and far you go) and it’s impressive. Can you give us a CliffNotes version of the band?
Logan Huber (bass): Matt and John met at an open mic. Luke had some prior experience with both John and I from when I subbed in my brother’s band, and I think I was already jamming with John at that point. After parting ways with a few bassists for various reasons, they called me and I joined.
Matt Traks (guitar/vocals): Signs Point East started at the end of 2012. Guitarist/vocalist John Lawton and drummer Luke Kannor were working on a project called “Lawton’s lost tribe.” A chance encounter with guitarist/vocalist Matthew Traks at an open mic in downtown Frederick at a place formerly known as “Mick’s Pub” led to the creation of the band. Our unique styles fed flawlessly off each other until, a few months later, bassist Logan Huber joined to further push what we now know as the “Signs Point East sound.”
John Lawton (guitar/vocals): Signs Point East came about in a “Perfect Storm” kind of way. I had been playing in a trio with Luke (our drummer) and our bassist at the time quit. Luke and I continued as a duo until I met Matt at an open mic at Church Street Pub. Matt and I jammed a couple times and we both liked each other’s material so Luke, Matt, and I got together in my basement and that chemistry worked well. Matt brought in a bassist he met named Nathan and we played shows with that lineup for six months until Nathan announced he was moving to Boston. We needed a new bassist and I suggested bringing in Logan Huber, who was the brother of a guy I had played with a couple years prior. Logan came in and not only fit the sound we had, but added a fresh layer that allowed us as a band to go in more musical directions than we thought possible.
Luke Kannor (drums): SPE’s current line-up formed in the winter of 2012 when Logan Huber replaced bassist Nathan Kadan. Shortly after, we recordeda debut EP at Mighty Toad Recording in Brooklyn. Since then, we have wanted to focus on touring in the mid-atlantic region playing shows in PA, MD, VA, WV, and DC.
Your show is part of the “Best In Baltimore” concert. That’s pretty amazing. How did that come about? What did you have to do to win and how/when were you alerted you were chosen?
Logan: I actually have no idea.
Matt: The best of Baltimore show came about because in 2013 we competed in and won the Baltimore Battle of the Bands hosted by Gorilla Music. We absolutely could not have won without the love and support of our friends and fans who continue to show up to cheer us on and they have our everlasting gratitude for that. We would be nothing without them! Part of the prize for winning was a headlining show along with free recording time. We were actually in the studio the day we received the call about this upcoming show!
John: “The Best of Baltimore” show came about when we were contacted by Gorilla Music a few months ago. They had contacted us initially two years ago to compete in the Battle of The Bands at Ottobar, which we went on to win. We’ve had a good relationship with them by bringing plenty of people to the events we play for them.
Luke: The Best of Baltimore is a showcase that Ottobar and Gorilla Music put together to showcase some of the area’s best new talent. We were invited after winning the 2013 Baltimore Battle of the Bands.
What’s your perception of the music scene in Frederick? What are some differences between here and other places, like, say, even Baltimore? Do you see it growing?
Logan: The Frederick music scene wants to, and is on the verge of, thriving! There are a ton of great and talented bands. Places like Café Nola have the right idea. If a few more venues follow suit, we are on our way as a town. Most of the bands seem very friendly with one another, but in my honest opinion, more cooperation would benefit everybody.
Matt: The music scene in Frederick is incredible! Frederick has done a great job of cultivating music and the arts over the past several years and one of the coolest things about Frederick is that every single band inspires and pushes the next, while being completely unique and true to themselves! The music scene is alive and growing and we’re all excited about where we can all go. It’s refreshing to go different places and hear people comment about how every band in Frederick that comes through is a quality act! On an aside: We do feel like Frederick could really use a more solid music venue for local and national acts. It would bring more commerce into the city and further push Frederick’s dedication to music and the arts.
John: My perception of the music scene in Frederick is that there are a lot of original songwriters and bands that play a bunch of different styles which I think is great. There are a few bars that try to showcase that as much as possible and that kind of interaction is starting to flourish. The Downtown Frederick Partnership, Frederick Playlist and Bucket Of Rock blog have done a tremendous job in relaying the arts to the public. With that said, I think the main difference between Frederick and other cities like Baltimore is the lack of actual music venues. I am very happy to see The Maryland Ensemble Theatre and Weinberg Center opening their doors to local original acts, but if we had a venue between those sizes it would help push the original music scene to new heights.
Luke: The music scene here is saturated with talented bands which makes for better competition, better music, and more local support & respect between musicians, for instance we share living space and practice space with Seaknuckle and have shared practice space with Knolly Moles, Chainsaw, and other bands. If Frederick had a proper music venue it’d be a music hot-spot and the growth would be infinite.
Do you have any plans to release something new in the near future? What are your plans for 2015?
Logan: We’re in the studio. No deadline is set, but it should be soon. We are all very excited about releasing new music and I have nothing more to say about it.
Matt: We are currently in the studio working on our second EP release! Our first EP, “Back to the Start,” was very well received and we’re even more excited about this one! It’s slated for a spring release and it’s going to be a little more focused this time around. It will include a little more love and quality time given to the production, so it will be a fun and sonically pleasing release!
John: We are currently working at Wrightway Studio in Baltimore with Drew Lamond on a new EP that we plan to release this summer. Working with Drew has really pushed us to look deeper into our songs and explore all possibilities within them. I’m very excited about what we have so far. We have also been looking into doing some mini tours and contacting festivals, so hopefully it will be a busy year!
Luke: We’re currently in the studio working on our second EP now. We’re in the process of planning a spring/summer tour to promote the release of the EP and are finalizing plans with festivals.
Who are some of your major influences and why?
Logan: I could spew out a long list of huge artists, who I am and always will be grateful to, but when I hone in on the word major, as in, these people are major reasons why I do what I do … I have to name Trey Kulp and Dustin Snapper … two UMBC alumni who showed me early on what it means to be a musician. They showed me how music can be amazing and fun at a local level, and that it was possible for me to take part if I wanted to and let myself. They are the reason why I took my bass out of the confines of my bedroom.
Matt: Our major influences include Umphrey’s McGee, Pink Floyd, Tool, Foo Fighters, Incubus, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Porcupine Tree, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Dispatch, Lotus, and many, many more! One of the cool things about us is that each member brings completely different musical backgrounds to the table, and although that can lead to some pretty epic band fights, we lock in and make music that is undeniably “Signs Point East.”
John: Major influences for me as a songwriter range from Josh Ritter to John Mayer and everything in between. As a guitarist I’d say top 3 are Jake Cinninger (Umphrey’s McGee), Stevie Ray Vaughan, and David Gilmour. As a band major influences would be Umphrey’s McGee, Pink Floyd, Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin.
Luke: A lot of ’90s alt rock. AIC, Nirvana, Soundgarden, STP, Bush and Tool. Also, the classics — Zeppelin, The Who, King Crimson, Eagles, Genesis … ALL ROCK!
Where are some of your favorite places to play (cities/venues) and why?
Logan: I love Cafe Nola in Frederick because of the general “good vibe” about the whole place. The people and staff are friendly, and I really feel connected with the music and the people when I play there. Ottobar is another favorite. It’s big, dark, and loud, and a destination where people come expecting a show. That on its own makes me not want to let them down.
Matt: Our favorite venues of the past have been, in no particular order, Cafe Nola in Frederick, Ottobar in Baltimore, and Ram’s Head in Baltimore. The reason being is that the audiences at these venues are always amazing – people come to see a show, and we always try our best to deliver a top-notch performance every time.
John: My favorite place to play is Ottobar because of the layout. Onstage you get to interact with people in the front row, in the back, and the loft section they have on the right side (where I usually am). Its just a fun venue to play. Cafe Nola is my other favorite because you are right there with the fans. And their infused liquor, of course.
Luke: We love playing Nola. The atmosphere and energy is always great. Baltimore has been another great city for us, and we have had the opportunity to play Ottobar a couple times which has a great “dirty” feel to it.
Could you give us some names of some great local original artists we might not already know? Who are you a fan of locally and who should we keep an eye on?
Logan: Check out Seanuckle and their alter-egos/side project Chainsaws. They just put on an amazing show at the MET and seem to be on fire. I’m still confused about whose songs are whose … but who cares? They all rock!
Matt: There are so many incredible local bands in Frederick! We share a practice space with Seaknuckle and the Knolly Moles. Seaknuckle is an emerging indie thrash pop band who are an absolute blast to see live! The Knolly Moles follow in a slightly different upbeat pop-punk vein. We have close relations with a few other great bands including Old Indian, Jack Funk, Heavy Lights and Joint Effort. We would recommend anyone check them out, and again, each one is completely different and unique!
John: Skribe from Annapolis, Seaknuckle from Frederick and Chainsaws from Frederick.
Luke: As mentioned above, Seaknuckle is a really good group of guys. We are also big fans of Old Indian, Jack Funk, The Knolly Moles, Heavy Lights, Joint Effort and Chainsaws! We’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to play with almost all of our local favorites.
What can we expect from your show here a the Ottobar?
Logan: If I told you, then you might see it coming … see ya there!
Matt: The Ottobar show is going to be a blast! We’ve got a bunch of great bands playing ahead of us and we’ve been practicing real hard to put on a very exciting and memorable show for everyone who can come share the evening with us! We also have a party bus planned to help shuttle our friends and fans to and from Baltimore and Frederick and you can get on board by visiting our Facebook page by searching for Signs Point East.
John: You can expect to get your face melted while dancing your a– off.
Luke: Expect some new songs off our upcoming EP and a jam-tastic “masterpiece” of fun we’ve been working on.