Interview with A Skylit Drive (Jag)

By on September 3, 2012

Interview with A Skylit Drive ( Jag )

HHM – You guys seem to keep getting better and better, what are some of the things you think contribute to that?

Jag – Ya know, just growing up, broadening all of your musical horizons, listening to new things. Being into new things. I guess the main answer is just growing up, being older and having a better outlook on what kind of music people want to hear these days.

HHM – There’s a lot of young bands that really do try to stick within the scene and they never really grow.

Jag – Yeah, we try to mix a lot of different things to try and make a new sound instead of sticking to just one thing.

HHM – How are you guys coming along with the new record?

Jag – It’s still in the very beginning of the process. We did like one little pre-pro demo right before this tour started, but we’re really going to dig into the writing once this tour is over. We’re hoping to have the album out sometime in the first part of 2013. I have no idea if it’s January or June, we’re just hoping for somewhere in between that bracket of time.

HHM – Do you notice that maybe the fans are starting to get a little restless, wanting new material?

Jag – Yeah, and I think maybe they can feel it a little in us that we’re eager to get new stuff out. Identitycame out in what…early 2011, like February 2011, so it’s definitely time for a new album. We’re trying to come up with some cool ideas to keep people interested and keep them on their toes.

HHM – Are you guys heavy into pre-production or do you leave some room in the studio?

Jag – Prior to this album we left a lot for studio. This time around though, we want to have a lot more of it done before we hit the studio. Just so that we’re a lot more prepared.

HHM – Is that kind an inexperience like a “hey producer help us out kind of thing”?

Jag – Well, we’ve never really relied much on a producer, so this is our one album where we’re going back and using certain people we worked with on Wires, so we have like this, all star team of producers and engineers to make sure it’s the best that it can possibly be.


HHM – Do you write together on the road?

Jag – Not so much on the road, there’s just always so much going on. We’re just kind of on a different wave-length when we’re on the road. We can’t really hone in on things. Just too many other things going on. I know some bands have that knack for it and everything…some bands, it just never works out. When we get home, that’s when the writing mode hits.

HHM – Do you spend a lot of time in the bus or are you guys out and about when you’re on tour?

Jag – Yeah, we’re pretty much home bodies, we love playing video games and watching movies. Just kinda laying low. After the show is when things usually start to get crazy. People come out to the bus…the things rocking cause of the music, you know, just people everywhere.

HHM – What do you guys do besides video games, being nerds and shit, what do you do to help keep it comfortable and do to create a sort of escape?

Jag – A couple of us workout like religiously. One guy is super gym type guy. I like to just workout outside the RV. Ya know, dumbells, push-ups. Like a P90X program or whatever. That keeps a bunch of us sane. Eating right, ya know we’ve lived long enough now treating our bodies like crap. There’s still a lot of partying that goes on and stuff. For the most part though, the fitness is the one thing that keeps most of us sane.

HHM – What’s it like playing a tour like this where there are so many heavy bands?

Jag – We were a little concerned at first, but at the same time we’ve always lumped into this genre with heavier bands when we were never really one of the heavier band. It’s not too much different for us, it’s a lot of kids that have seen us before but also opens us up to kind of a metal crowd with Suicide Silence, Unearth where it’s an older crowd they’re not as judgmental I feel. They’re a little more open to these bands they may have not heard yet even though it may be a little different than what they like. They get that there’s different styles of music. They’re not gonna hate us because we’re not screaming the whole time.

HHM – You guys have been around a while so I don’t think it’s a huge surprise what’s coming.
Jag – Yeah totally

HHM – What are some of the bands you really like playing with when you get the opportunity?

Jag – Honestly, it’s been a great pleasure playing with Unearth. They were one of my favorites bands back in High School, I even told one of their guitar players the older day “I saw you guys back in 2003, it was so sick” This was back when Underoath had their first screamer, so it was along time ago. So, touring with them is awesome for me. We’ve got a bunch of friends on this tour, I See Stars, Attila, the Stick To Your Guns guys, we toured with them the last tour. They are really nice. Make Me Famous was on the last tour with us, those are super nice guys. There’s just so many good people on this tour. Even some of the newer bands like Obey The Brave, Betraying the Martyrs…I could list off every band and say they are all great dudes. They’re all good people.

HHM – It must make it all a little easier.
Jag – Yeah, totally

HHM – Is there anyone that you haven’t toured with that you really do want to go out and tour with?

Jag – Iron Maiden, Coheed and Cambria, Man, there’s certain tours that we’re like “Man, if we could just get on tour with that band it would so sick” It would open us up to this whole other realm of people.

HHM – Do you draw influence from bands you play with, either musically or performance wise?

Jag – Honestly, the only thing I can think of might be performance wise. You think of bands like AFI and older rock bands, cause so many bands these days stick to a formula when they perform. The bands I was into just kind of treated that stage like it was theirs for that 30 minutes or that 45 minutes. It’s not a set blueprint and that stage was meant to be used, every inch of it. When I go to a show, I want to see the guys not acting like they do this every day. Like this is the only day that they do it. Like this stage is special for some reason. I want them to feel like I’m giving them a better show than I gave the other people. I don’t want them to feel like “they look like they’ve done that a lot of times”. “Yeah, that’s probably just some kind of same ole same ole shit”.

HHM – Does that get tough towards the end of the tour?

Jag –  Honestly, when I’m near the end that’s when I feel like I’m getting more and more into it. When I’m sluggish and still figuring things out is in the first week. You’re working out all the kinks and such. Once you get passed that then you know the kinds of things you want to go for.

HHM – What do you think is the important thing that keeps you motivated to keep progressing as an artist/musician?

Jag – Just the people that we get to meet every day. After every show, I go to the merch table and I talk to all the kids. Some of them I recognize, some of them I don’t. I wish I could….but, just getting to meet everyone and getting to hear what our music has done for them, seeing how excited they are, knowing that I’ve been there before. That’s one of the huge things that fuels me to want to be better, want to do better, be the best for them. To give them the best show possible. To make them want to come back. Come see us again, come talk to me at the merch table next time. Keeps us going, keeps them going.

HHM – You guys are humble as fuck dude, it’s pretty sweet.
Jag – Thanks man, Thank You

HHM – Since this is close to the end of the tour, are there any plans once it finishes up?

Jag – Right now, when we get home, we just want to start writing. That’s our main goal right now. Jump into writing and pre-pro, start writing with producers and such.  Just trying to get as much of that done as possible. There are some overseas things coming up…Philippines, UK later this year. We might have one more US tour later this year but it isn’t positive, it hadn’t been confirmed yet.

HHM – You’ll just go through Richmond, it won’t be here….

Jag – *laughs Who knows, there’s certain place that if I could pick it for every tour I would. Honestly, Richmond and here (Norfolk),   would be two od those choices. We’ve only played The National twice, one of yesterday and the other was one my favorite show ever. Our tour got double booked with another heavier tour, somehow. I thought that it was going to be terrible…it was like August Burns Red, The Acacia Strain, Impending Doom and then we were on tour with Senses Fail, Closure in Moscow, Fact so I was like, man we’re gonna get stuff thrown at us. The I look out and I see dudes wearing Cannibal Corpse shirts singing along to our stuff. It completely threw me for such a loop, that’s why I loved it so much. I was dreading it and as soon as we came out, it was not what I was expecting at all. The NorVa, like we were talking before, we haven’t played here since 2008 and I remember it was an awesome show. Virginia on Warped is always cool. I have a good feeling today is going to be rad.

HHM – Speaking of which, what are some of your favorites place to play, in the states, overseas…

Jag- That’s so hard, I think my favorite show ever was probably Chile’. That was just, I don’t know, I couldn’t control the excitement I had to play there. The excitement they had was just overwhelming.  I didn’t get it. What was so damn special about me that I deserve this. I didn’t think I deserved this….but I’m gonna take it while I can. Pretty much all of the South American dates, even SouthEast Asia and Japan, they’re just so grateful. I’m not saying that US, Canada and Europe aren’t, it’s just a whole different vibe in these countries where they don’t get to see as many bands.

HHM – Yeah totally, I can vouch for that. I know some people in South America and when they’re into something, they are REALLY into it. They give everything. It means the world to them just to meet you guys, something like that and they ape shit over it.

Jag – It’s definitely nice to see the crowd giving what we’re giving. Some shows we’re giving like 100% and the crowd’s only giving back like 40%. Then sometimes we’re giving our all or at least what we think is our all and  they’re giving more so we’re like, “I didn’t know I had this other Superman side of me”. 

Dave – Hellhound Music 

About ASD:
It takes great vision for a band to refuse to rest on their previous successes and instead focus on what they need to become. That’s exactly what Lodi, California’s A Skylit Drive achieved with the sextet’s third full-length album, Identity On Fire.

Marrying the defining, intrinsic elements of A Skylit Drive’s signature sound with a bold new palette of tones, textures and song structures, the apt
ly named Identity On Fire serves up a double meaning, not only standing apart from the band’s prior works but also defining the band from this point forward.

“This record has everything to do with setting fire to the things that you don’t want and don’t need, and are only slowing you down,” notes Michael “Jag” Jagmin. “It’s about creating your own identity, and being who you want to be. We feel like that’s what we’ve done with this album.”

A Skylit Drive — comprised of vocalist Jagmin, guitarists Nick Miller and Joey Wilson, bassist/screamer Brian White, drummer Cory La Quay and keyboardist Kyle Simmons — officially burst onto the scene in 2007 with the She Watched The Sky EP, followed by 2008’s Wires And The Concept Of Breathing. The band then joined the Fearless Records family, with their label debut coming in the form of 2009’s Adelphia, which peaked at #64 on the Billboard 200.

With the sophomore pressure behind them, ASD re-entered the studio in the fall of 2010, after a summer of 10-hour days spent writing new material in a blistering warehouse, to record Identity On Fire. All the sweat clearly paid off: Identity captures the group truly coming into their own, at a pivotal stage in their career. The album debuted on the U.S. Billboard 200 at #89 and #16 on the Alternative Albums chart.

It’s tough to dispute the fruits of that partnership: Identity On Fire has all the makings of a breakout release from a band just hitting their stride. From its richly layered guitars and keys to its bombastic beats and scorching vocals, the album is a take-no-prisoners shot across the bow of contemporary post-hardcore, instantly raising the bar. “We wanted to have more energy, keep the tempo up and have a lot of crowd participation,” adds guitarist Nick Miller. “We wanted the contrast—a good balance of heavy and poppy—and I think on this album we’ve definitely found a good balance.”

The combination of inspired lyrics and powerful new music translates into a milestone release for A Skylit Drive; fresh cuts like single “Too Little, Too Late”, “XO Skeleton” and “Ex Marks The Spot” promise to grab listeners by the eardrums and not let go. Jagmin and Miller say they’re particularly proud of “Ex,” which has become a band favorite. With a straight-up melodic hardcore vibe, fist-pumping gang vocals and surprisingly well-honed hooks, it is just one of Identity’s many dazzlers.

Now that Identity On Fire has dropped, A Skylit Drive will be taking what’s arguably their best record yet to an audience that grows larger by the day. They supplemented the album’s release with a supporting spot on tour with Thursday and Underoath, gaining fans and respect with every show. Followed by the band’s second shot at Warped Tour, tackling the 2011 tour in its entirety.

A Skylit Drive’s third album Identity On Fire is out now.

ASD is:
Michael “Jag” Jagmin – Vocals
Nick Miller – Guitar
Joey Wilson – Guitar
Brian White – Bass / Screams
Kyle Simmons – Keyboards
Cory La Quay – Drums / Vocals


Author: DaveHHM

Dave Luttrull: Owner/Editor in Chief of Hellhound Music. Star Wars nerd, Gamer, Destiny homer, blogger, writer and lover of all things music.