Last Friday night, I found myself fumbling around the social networking website Stickam. After a face-to-face interview with local pop-punk saplings Late Nite Reading fell through, I agreed to interview them during their nightly broadcast on Stickam.
However, when I logged on to the site, I realized that I had no idea what was going on. I have always kept up with pop culture, albeit, mostly from a distance, and I felt secure in knowing what was up in the world. My Stickcam experience, however, made me feel like Rip Van Winkel, waking up behind the times.
As my confusion turned to frustration, I broke down and called Late Nite Reading bassist Brady Szuhaj for assistance. Szuhaj laughed sympathetically when I admitted how lost I was on the Stickam website. After guiding me through the registration process, Szuhaj welcomed me to the band’s popular video broadcast where my face stood out amongst scores of 16-year-old girls.
With my technical issues resolved, Szuhaj and Late Nite Reading frontman Dolton Wixom opened up to my questions in front of their 900 Internet followers that night.
“This is actually a slow night for us,” said Szuhaj. “We do this show every weeknight and we usually have around 2000 people tuning in.”
To have 2000 people hanging on your every word is pretty impressive for any local band, not to mention a high school band. All members of Late Nite Reading are between the ages of 16 and 18. Only drummer Drew Cottrell and guitarist Mitch Volpe are currently attending traditional high schools.
Late Nite Reading formed in 2009 and began developing their devout following early on. Bypassing traditional DIY avenues, Late Nite Reading incubated their fan base by blitzing the Internet.
“We are all about social media,” explained Szuhaj. “Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, Stickam: we use it all. They’re all cool ways to connect with fans.”
“Because of all the social networking,” said Wixom, “our national fan base actually predates our local fan base.”
Despite having a larger national following, Late Nite Reading have made sure not to neglect the local scene.
“We’ve played all the local haunts,” said Wixom. “E.S. Jungle, The Emerson, Earth House and the Dojo: you name it, we’ve played it.”
The band’s sound is radio-ready pop-punk; it has attracted the attention of big, national acts and promoters.
“We’ve played all over the Midwest supporting big bands,” said Szuhaj, “We’ve played with bands like All Time Low, Never Shout Never, Yellowcard and Forever The Sickest Kids.”
This past summer, the band embarked on their first tour.
“It was a lot of fun. We toured down to Texas and back with our friends from Score 24 from Long Island,” said Suzhaj.
While their pre-existing following certainly made their first official outing a bit easier, the tour wasn’t without educational experiences.
“We were playing sold out shows in smaller clubs with maybe 200-300 people” reminisced Suzhaj, “but it was easy because we just kind of followed Score 24’s lead. They really showed us the ropes of touring.”
At a gig in Austin, Texas, the band received some scary news.
“We were playing at Six Flags, Austin” said Wixom, “we got there early and were hitting up the rides and chilling with fans, waiting for Score 24 to show up. All of a sudden, we got a call from Score 24 saying that their van had broken down and that they were dropping off of the tour. We were really nervous. They had always been there to show us what was up, but now we were on our own.”
Luckily for the band, the rest of the tour went off without a hitch without their mentors.
“We were able to deal with everything on our own.” said Szuhaj, beaming. “Even though it was a bummer that Score 24 had to drop off, we still had a great tour without them.”
After returning from the tour, LNR geared up to release their second EP, Dedicated to Deadlines.
“Our first EP was really raw and doesn’t really represent our current sound,” said Szuhaj. “We’re really proud of Deadlines. It’s gotten us a lot of hype.”
The four-track Deadlines incorporates new-school pop-punk and electro-pop elements with incredibly slick production. The band isn’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves.
“Of course, we like Blink 182 and the older punk sound but we listen to a lot of All Time Low and Forever The Sickest Kids,” admitted Szuhaj.
“I'm really into electronic music and Brady’s into more hardcore stuff,” added Wixom.
“I guess you could say that Dolton is pop and I’m punk,” said Szuhaj.
With Deadlinesonly available online, the band is more or less self-sufficient.
“We do so much on our own,” explained Szuhaj. “We really don’t need a label at this point but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t welcome a label deal. We have a lot to juggle right now. [A label like] Hopeless Records would be ideal [but] while we have a big following, we just don’t have the sales to really attract any serious attention.”
Until spring break (when they can tour again), the band is taking it easy.
“We’ll play locally or play a weekend show every now and then,” said Szuhaj. “But, our main objective is just to try to move units and not lose momentum.”