Pop punks A Step Ahead likes to keep things positive within their lifestyle's as well as their musical approach when creating, playing, and forming their music. Since positivity is such an influence to them, they have used it when going on ahead to play local shows as well as tours, repeating the cycle of shows, tours, and making music. In recent activity of A Step Ahead's line of work, they have released a new single made video for the track "Pretty When" as well as "In It to Win It". But not only, have those tracks been made into videos, but more music is well underway, including future shows and more! Find out just what else is in-store from A Step Ahead as the band discusses all of it below!
1. Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.
A Step Ahead started in 2008 when lead singer Nick Johnson and a friend were at a party and began talking about starting a band different than what they had been a part of in the past. Both came from metal backgrounds, but enjoyed pop-punk and wanted to head down that path. The two eventually moved in as roommates to what would become known as the “Hardy House” where they were known for throwing parties frequented by other musicians in the Arizona local scene. Here, they met new members that would create A Step Ahead, including current guitarist and vocalist, Colin Becker. Over the years, the band has gone through member changes but have found their permanent lineup in Johnson (lead vocals), Becker (guitar, vocals), Mike H. Melton (guitar, backing vocals), Brian Iwabuchi (drums), and Matt Seli (bass). Melton, Iwabuchi, and Seli had all been in other Arizona local bands before joining A.S.A. at different times throughout the band’s existence.
2. What’s the origin of the band’s name?
“When we were first thinking of names, it was definitely a process,” according to lead singer Nick Johnson. The band wanted something that would stick, but not settle for anything without meaning. “When someone came up with A Step Ahead, I remember all of us looking at each other and grinning from ear-to-ear,” continued Johnson. “That’s when I knew we had it!”
The name means to always be prepared for the next step in life, because when you’re not working your hardest, someone else is. It’s not only meant to motivate the band, but all their supporters and those around them. “We aim to motivate at the end of the day, and hope that we have over the years.”
3. Where is the band based out of and what is your music scene like there? Are there any local bands you could recommend?
The members of A Step Ahead are all from different parts of the Phoenix area, but meet in Scottsdale as the band’s home base.
“The AZ music scene is alive and well,” according to bassist Matt Seli. “Some of the biggest names out there came from our own backyard, and it’s an honor to be a part of the recent resurgence of the scene.”
Some bands to look out for or you may have already heard of are DED, Figure It Out, Sundressed, BLACKTHRONE, Emerald Isle, Lifelink, Baseline, and Dropout Kings.
4. How would you describe your style?
“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what genre or style we fall under,” says lead vocalist Nicholas Johnson. “We’ve been called pop-punk, easycore, and pop-rock, among other genres, but we just see ourselves as a band who puts out the best music we can while making sure it’s fun to play live and enjoyable for our fans.”
From Taking Back Sunday, New Found, Glory, and Blink-182 to Michael Jackson, Outkast!, and Bruno Mars, the band’s influences have always and will always vary. Johnson adds, “I had themed parties as a kid where I would dress up like André 3000 and MJ. These two artists showed me that anything is possible with music, and I credit them in pushing me to become a musician.” The band all agrees with his assessment that “my influences now are anyone pushing the boundaries on what you can do with music.”
Whether it’s a catchy new top-40 song, a heavy-ass local band, or anything in-between, the band finds inspiration from those who do what they do to perfection.
5. You released an EP "In It To Win It", as well as released two singles "Pretty When" and "In It To Win It". What can be said about this EP and these singles, as well as their accompanying videos?
“In It To Win It was kind of a ground breaker in more way than one for us in our early years,” says guitarist and vocalist Colin Becker. “Not only was it our first real hit, but it was also our first release with producer and co-songwriter Curtis Douglas, who we have worked with exclusively since.”
Shortly after the EP’s release, the band released their first music video as a group for the EP’s title track. Directed by Carlos Berber, the video has seen 50,000 views on YouTube alone and put the band on the map locally as well as in many national circles.
With their newest single, lead guitarist and backing vocalist, Mike H. Melton explains that “Pretty When has signified our comeback. We had taken such a long time away from A Step Ahead that we needed to bring something big when it was time to come back with our new lineup. This song and video has exceeded even our own expectations.” Bassist Matt Seli adds, “the response has been incredibly humbling and shows just how amazing our fans are and how much further we can take things with this new sense of confidence.”
Pretty When was produced and co-written by Curtis Douglas. The single was released alongside the band’s first video in six years. Directed by Jacob Reynolds and Sanjay Parikh, the video follows a young man going through the inescapable friend-zone experience that so many of us know all too well. At the time of this being written, the single has seen over 20,000 plays on Spotify and 13,000 video views on Facebook in less than three weeks of being released.
6. Since that EP's release, have you released any other content, or have any new music in the works?
“We’ve definitely got some things in store for you,” says lead vocalist, Nicholas Johnson. “Not only do we already have new songs recorded, but we have shot a new music video and have re-mixed/re-mastered a few old favorites. You’ll just have to wait a little bit longer before things start dropping.”
To put it lightly, the band is excited for what the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 hold. “It’s going to be awesome,” according to Johnson.
7. You have won three appearances on the Homegrown With Mo Show by the ALT AZ 93.3 radio station. How did this happen and do you hope to keep on winning for this segment?
As of September 2017, the band is now 4-0 in their appearances on the Homegrown with Mo Show on ALT AZ 93.3. In a “battle of the bands” type format, the radio station plays a different awesome local band each night Monday through Thursday of each week, asking fans and listeners to vote for their favorite on the station’s website. Not only has A Step Ahead won the most votes on each appearance, but they have also enjoyed additional air-play on one of the valley’s most popular radio stations, invites to the station’s local showcases, and an appearance on 2017’s MO’s Oktoberfest presented by Four Peaks at Tempe Town Lake.
“I just remember getting an email from Mo one day asking for a bio, photo, and MP3 of the song we wanted to be played,” recalls guitarist and vocalist, Colin Becker. “Since our lineup was recently finalized, we had to scramble in editing an old bio, getting a random photo from a recent show, and deciding what old song to use. Since we hadn’t released any new material for some time, we weren’t sure how we’d do, but it goes back to how amazing and supportive our fanbase is.”
“We can’t wait to keep submitting our new songs to Mo and see how we do,” says lead guitarist and backing vocalist, Mike H. Melton. “Her show is such a cool way for local bands to get their name out there and she has been gracious enough to let us be on more than once. It has been an awesome opportunity.”
8. What plans do you have for the future as a band?
“It’s crazy to think about it now with where we are and where we are going, but I don’t know that any of us really thought we would be in this position as a band now that it’s almost 2018,” states bassist, Matt Seli. “Other than Colin, we’ve all come and gone over the years for different reasons, but now that the lineup is set, I personally feel like the best is yet to come.”
“The quality of the product and the level of excitement we have is undeniable at this point,” adds lead vocalist, Nicholas Johnson. “After playing a few shows, we found confidence in ourselves and knew we could keep this thing going. After releasing Pretty When and seeing the response, we knew we had to keep it going. We are so pumped to release our new material along with multiple videos and re-mixed/re-mastered favorites from the past starting in a few months. 2018 is going to be a blast.”
9. Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?
Whatever your favorite music site or app is, we’re sure to be there. Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes, Google Music, Tidal, YouTube, it’s really all out there. Want to buy some ASA gear? Head on over to astepaheadmusic.com/shop/.
10. Do you have anymore shout outs to give?
First of all, HUGE shout outs to our incredible wives, girlfriends, and children. Being in a band takes a lot of time and commitment, and your support, understanding, and love makes it all possible.
In addition, we wouldn’t be where we are at today without the unwavering support from our amazing fans. In everything we do as a band, you are always in our minds and hearts.
Already mentioned, but never mentioned enough: Curtis Douglas, Jacob Reynolds, Sanjay Parikh, Carlos Berber, Mo at 93.3 ALT AZ, and every band we have ever shared the stage with. THANK YOU!