Sylar hit Slam Dunk
Featuring on the RockSound Breakout Stage at Slam Dunk, Sylar from Queens, NY took time out of their first ever UK trip to talk Villains, 'Help!' and Hopeless. A band with great passion and charisma they are ones not to be missed in future UK appearances!
So for people who don’t know you, how would you describe Sylar in only 5 words?
We’re a very unique band. That’s the way I see it anyway.
The bands name I believe comes from the character in ‘Heroes’ but what made you choose this one specifically?
So I grew up in a very Urban area in New York City, Queens, and well the scene in New York City is a bit strange. People start bands and even now I see people starting bands just because they want stardom, so they start one, make a really bad sounding demo and then when they start making money they re-record it. I was sat at home and knew I wanted to start a band and wanted to be the very best. We go out and play shows and we love everyone but we know we want to be the very best! Doesn’t matter if we’re opening or whatever, we give it our absolute everything! So for me ‘Sylar’ on the show, he’s one of the villains and I love villains like him and Voldemort, Slytherin, Death Eaters and such. On the show, it was his ambition that did it! His power was figuring out things, so once he figured out how to steal other peoples powers, he wanted to be the strongest person in the world and be the best! I think his drive, just really described how we wanted to be. Not that we’re gonna go split people’s heads open or anything! It’s just the drive, and I love the way it sounded and the one word, once I brought it up we just all agreed!
So this is your first time in the UK, what’s it been like so far?
Amazing! I’m a bit jetlagged, but I love everything so far, I love the accent, like yours are so cool, it makes me sound so basic! The food has been very interesting, I love it! I just want to come back already. We’re not even done and I already want to come back and do a full tour. Everyone’s so nice so far, it’s just amazing.
Have you prepared for these shows any differently to how you would do for the US shows?
We’ve changed our setlist up a little bit, I’m almost clueless to how much people like us or even know us over here. We basically just wanted to do a mixture of our new album and our old album at the same time. It then gives people a full vibe of what we had, but I was a little nervous yesterday, there was a mystery of playing to a place we’ve never ever been to. At least when you go to America and go to a new state, it’s still America. This, being over here is just a whole different ball game. I got this wristband, it was really loose because I didn’t want to wear it all the time, and before playing I just completely tied it up because I was a little nervous. It’s cool though, we’re stoked, it’s a new feeling and a new crowd, so we’re really excited!
Musically, who inspires Sylar?
Overall, we love all sorts of genres, if we vibe with a song, no matter the language, genre, we just vibe with it. As far as our band goes, we’re very into Hip-Hop, and for me lyrically I was very into Eminem, Wu Tang Clan, Nas and all that sorta stuff. But, when it comes to the band, big time for us is like Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Deftones, Deftones are just wow, they touch me more than anything, P.O.D, Papa Roach, just that whole era of music of late 90s early 2000s. That’s how I found out about metal, being from Queens, all I knew was Hip-Hop. My family, my cousins, you’d walk down the street to the corner store and people driving by, were just listening to Hip-Hop. Then I heard Limp Bizkit on Wrestlemania, I heard ‘My Way’ and ‘Rolling’ and it was The Undertakers walk out song and I just thought it was unreal! To me it was a whole new thing, obviously I’m still into Hip-Hop but the rush of hearing a new artist just touched my soul and rock touched my soul but the fact they had these Hip-Hop elements too it just really opened up my whole mind to it. I was like cool this sounds familiar but yet different and from there I backtracked older bands and newer bands came after that
Can you talk us through what ‘Assume’ is about?
So as I said, we come from New York City, where there’s a lot of bands and a lot of stuff, and when we first started the band, we were trying to do stuff as legit as we could. We’d go out and spend a couple of months work our arses off to come out with some decent sounding music. That being said, so many people judged us so hard in New York saying that we sucked and we’d never make it anywhere. Out there, at the time we came out, Hardcore was very big and still is but at that point specifically it was very dominant. People were being elitist about what they liked, so if you weren’t coming out and being super hardcore, you were almost, not cool. All this was a big part of the song but in addition, it’s more in a general sense of people going out and judging you based on the way you look, or how you talk, or where you come from. Or people being racist, and I’ve written songs about stuff like that, we all bleed the same blood, we’re all humans. I live in a very diverse city, so it’s really sad when you go out and see people who are really judgemental. Especially when it’s off things like the way you look, like me with my tattoos, even though they’re so common around the world, still people cross the road when they see me. It’s shitty because you see dudes in suits and they’re some of the worst people in the world. Our big thing is just, stop judging people. Stop Assuming. You think you know it all but you really don’t, you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life or what they’re going through. All that, creates the main message for the song.
From ‘Help!’ What do you think is the best song to represent the album and why?
Personally, I think it was “Dark Daze”, “Assume” is second though. “Dark Daze” is my personal favourite because we went through a real rough time after our first record. We dropped a record and it just didn’t do well, we weren’t treated right within our team. Everything was so sloppy, we ended up in a real bad situation, we had to part ways with our label, our manager, our booking agent, we were basically back to square one after being signed and touring for a little bit. It was a scary time and it was very dark, you go out and get signed, that’s the dream. You create a record, tour a little bit and then you just hit a wall. Then you’ve got to go back to a normal lifestyle and get a job and try and figure things out. It was crazy because we already had fans off the back of that first record and everyone starts asking what;s going on with Sylar and asking where we are. We took a full year off and it was just dark, it was a crazy time where I thought, do I keep doing this or do I quit? So ‘Help’ was just the perfect description, and it’s why we named it that. It’s how we felt, we felt hopeless and felt we needed some help. “Dark Daze” is about waking up everyday and just feeling the same. Everything was stale and it felt the same everyday until I started writing the album. We wrote this record, we signed to ‘Hopeless’ and we landed an amazing manager, an amazing booking agent and now everything’s good. That song starts off really low and we drop a line saying “Try to stop us” because we’re so determined to do this! If you’re going to try and stop us you better try hard because there’s no slowing us down. We are going at it with everything.
What was it like signing to Hopeless?
Unreal. I have so many back stories behind everything but I’m a huge Avenged Sevenfold fan. They were one of my favourite bands growing up, I used to fall asleep watching their documentary and they used to talk about the time they signed to ‘Hopeless’ so that name always stuck in my head. It was years ago but I just knew they were cool. So when we got that offer we were like wait what?? Also, I love ‘Bayside’ and have a ‘Bayside’ tattoo! The label just has a lot of legendary bands. Not only is it cool to be a part of their history but they’re taking care of us so well! It’s just been awesome!