Numbers is a difficult-to-classify band out of Seattle. They released their full length, titled Three, in March and to be honest it was an instant buy. I was totally unprepared with what this unsigned band offered musically and was immediately hooked. Check out the interview with vocalist Kyle Bishop below and get to know the band before your friends do! Don’t forget to check out our stream of the song “Legal Lee Speaking” as well.
First off, since you’ll likely be new to most of our readers, can you give a short back story of the band.
Sure thing! We are a band consisting of currently three members: myself (Kyle Bishop) on keys and vocals, Victor Olavarria on drums, and Mike Corrado on guitar. The band started in 2011 shortly after I began doing vocal covers on my YouTube channel. I met Victor via Twitter and he and I began working together as founding members of Numbers, and my friend, Justin Lambert hopped in on guitar, and Victor’s old college roommate, Ryan Majoris moved all the way from New Jersey to Washington to play bass for us. We released our EP and played a ton of shows –– eventually we had to let go of our guitarist and found JJ Ebeling, then JJ opted out after a few months and we began production on our full-length album last Summer (2013). In the middle of production, we got my old friend, Mike to hop in and fill the guitarist position. Then, a month or two later after Three’s release, Ryan decided to leave the band.
We pride ourselves on DIY and try and produce as much original content as possible for our fans. We’ve released a self-titled EP as well as our first full-length album in just 3 years and we already have more albums in the works for our future. We’ve played all over Washington and have done some west-coast touring, but we are still waiting for our big break when we can play some bigger shows and hopefully move on to bigger places.
Since I purposefully avoided giving a description of the band’s sound, I’ll allow you to tackle it.
Numbers is really a metalcore band with major prog, jazz, and fusion influences. I remember starting to write my first song for this new project I thought up (Numbers), and going into it thinking, ‘I’m going to write literally whatever comes to my mind. I’m not going to think too much about structure, or if it sounds heavy enough or catchy enough, I’m just going to let this song be whatever it wants to be.” and with that, my brain just started writing what I like most: metal, jazz, fusion, pop, techno, trance, and all the other genres of music I enjoy listening to. I jokingly coined it: Electrometal Jazzcore. That’s not a real genre, but 50% of the people think it’s ridiculous (which it is), and the other half think it actually aptly describes our genre. Win-win.
Unlike many progressive albums, I never find myself bored when listening to Three. The amount of different parts you can squeeze into a short time span while keeping it engaging is impressive. Can you give us a glimpse into your songwriting process?
As I stated before, I just let the songs be whatever they want to be. I have a lot of experience writing MIDI demos for my previous bands to get my song ideas across, and when I started Numbers, I had gotten so good at that process that I was able to just streamline everything. I can literally write a song with drums, bass, guitars, synths and piano to a pretty cool production quality to hand the idea to the rest of the members of the band. After we decide what songs we want to learn and produce on each record, the rest of the band learns and adapts all of their parts that I wrote to their own playstyles, making the songs even better in my opinion.
Are the members classically trained or self-taught musicians?
Victor and Mike (and ex-bassist, Ryan) are all Berklee graduates. They know how to play their instruments really well. I’m the only member that was self-taught (sort-of, I took a piano theory class for one year in high school, and that lead to a domino-effect of constant self-education).
The sounds that you hear on ‘Three’ lead me to believe that you are fans of a broad range of genres. I want to ask two questions here. First, are there any artists that have influenced your sound?
Absolutely. I should first state that I didn’t even remotely enjoy metal or the idea of it until I was about 19. The closest thing to metal that I listened to before that were bands like P.O.D. and Linkin Park (yikes, I know). Growing up, I listened to a lot of video game soundtracks, Deathcab for Cutie, Postal Service, Ben Folds, My Chemical Romance, Incubus, Yellowcard, Lostprophets, and several musical soundtracks too (I was constantly involved in musical theater).
It was a very strange and deep awakening when I began listening to metal. At first, it was unpleasant, and then I suddenly connected with a song by Underoath, and with that, the floodgates opened and I began listening to August Burns Red, Underoath, The Devil Wears Prada (yep, I know), Sky Eats Airplane (my personal favorite), and Periphery. There’s so many other bands that influence us, but those are the ones that really catered to my musical taste buds at the time.
And to follow up, many albums show off a lot of musical depth but the vocals can often just play a part. However, on Three they are a highlight and exhibit quite a range. Are you naturally drawn to a variety in sound? Who are some vocalists that have influenced you?
Thank you very much. I am very insecure when it comes to my voice. It’s not like a guitar or piano where you can mess up a part and know exactly what you messed up on. Singing and screaming is experimental, and it has taken a lot of trial and error to discover where my voice fits in such a particular genre of music. I have always loved to sing, and I grew up trying to sing a lot like Ben Folds and Ben Gibbard (Deathcab), but it wasn’t until I heard Casey Sabol (original Periphery vocalist) that I discovered just how cool screaming and singing can be over metal (Rody Walker from Protest the Hero also influences me greatly).
So I began screaming and singing together. I was awful at first, but I just kept doing it, and then I guess everything else just took flight after that. And by the way, by no means do I consider myself a professional vocalist. It’s still something I’m very much passionately practicing and trying to refine. It’s still so new to me.
The full length has been out for about 3 months now. How has the reception been?
The reception has been great. The timing has been somewhat troublesome, though.
We’ve had a lot of reviews of the album, and they’ve all been high ratings. It’s been so satisfying to see years of hard work (some of the songs on Three are over 3 years old, coincidentally) come to life and see our fans actively listen and tell us how much they’ve been enjoying it. We released a music video for Legal Lee Speaking during Fall of 2013 to keep our listeners’ attention –– but then we got heavily involved in a battle of the bands competition in the middle of production of our full length, so things got really scattered and we had to keep pushing our release date out to compensate for lost time.
Eventually, we were among 5 winners of the third and final round in Hollywood and were given a record deal offer along with the rest of the winning bands. That process became arduous as well due to lawyers, fees, negotiations and then finally, us turning the deal down entirely. After that whole ordeal, we immediately moved forward with our release of Three because our fans had been extremely patient with us and we felt we owed them the record they had pre-ordered for months.
On top of all of that, 1 month before heading out to that Hollywood show, my wife and I got pregnant, and we were not financially stable at the time, so we knew the road ahead of us was going to be extremely difficult (and side note: my son, Gregory East Bishop was born Saturday, June 21st, and he’s healthy as ever! All is well.)
While we were so excited to finally move forward with the release of Three, so much of that lost time from the other shenanigans we were dealing with made everything a little less climactic than we had hoped (no new music video since Legal Lee Speaking, but we’re working on that). It’s been a complicated endeavor as a band and individuals to keep things going at the pace that we had originally started ourselves on, but none of these things have even hinted at the notion of ending the band. We have big plans for our future, it just might take some time to get there.
And with that –– I believe the reception to Three has been wonderful, but I feel it hasn’t been given the publicity that we feel it deserves but plan to compensate for that this Summer with more videos!
In a unique move for a harder band, you recently released an instrumental version of Three. Was this due to fan interest or something you guys wanted to do?
We had received a handful of requests for an instrumental version, and more importantly, we have a lot of friends and family members that appreciate the music, but can’t stand the growling. We totally understand that this genre of music can be more of an acquired taste, so we thought, ‘What the heck? Let’s just release an instrumental version for the people that just want the music and nothing else.’ We feel it was a good move since it’s driven up album sales!
Name one positive and negative about the current state of music.
Positive: music is easier-than-ever to produce today. There is so much software and technology at our fingertips that saving up some cash, and watching some YouTube tutorials can get us recording our ideas with no education on audio engineering. It’s amazing, and I feel it’s so important for people to explore themselves in music to see what kind of things they can come up with.
Negative: music is easier-than-ever to produce today. Bands are signed left and right, dropped left and right, produced left and right, and the market as a whole is oversaturated with garbage music that’s produced to an inhuman level that only the most creative can survive by themselves. This is what Numbers prides itself on, but ends up struggling against because despite our creative efforts, we drown in the sea of “genericore” and suffer because of oversaturation.
Musically, Seattle is known more for grunge and rock than metal. How is the heavy music scene in that region?
It is all over the place. In a nutshell, local metal shows rarely sell-out –– I mean: rarely. Your average local metal show in Seattle consists of too many bands for one bill, and 50-100 people attending (40 of which are band members and girlfriends). The only metal shows that I’ve seen kids show up to are national touring acts. It’s sad, but that’s where it’s at, currently.
Assuming Numbers isn’t a full-time gig for you guys, are you ever able to tour out of that region of the country? Any future plans to do so?
It has been my dream for Numbers to become so massively big, that we could pack our bags and go play a show out in the UK, Mexico, or Australia. We have fans from all over the world that have begged for us to come out and play gigs, so we know there’s definitely a market for that kind of thing to happen. We just don’t currently have the financial means or connections to get out on the road and make that happen. We’re hoping with more online presence (music videos, interviews, documentaries, etc.), maybe we can get connected to the right people to make Numbers’ presence larger.
If we were all 18 and 19, we could just tour 300+ days out of the year to drive up our presence and stay home with our parents during our off-time with no trouble at all. The truth is that we’re all 27–28 now, I’m married and have a son, we all have rent and bills, and we have to keep our jobs in order to sustain ourselves until we can feasibly go on the road.
Touring is something we definitely want and plan for, and it’s something we’re ready to commit to –– but we’d rather take our time and drive up a demand through our online presence so that, when we do go out and do bigger tours, we won’t come home completely empty-handed and in debt up to our eyeballs. Our road to success has been difficult, but we believe it will be rewarding in the end if we just stick to it, despite the complications of our lives and schedules.
What does the next year look like for Numbers? Any chance of signing with a label or working on new music?
Absolutely. We already have enough material for the next three or four albums, but want to push Three as much as possible before moving on from it. A label is something we definitely seek help from, but we know that our situation isn’t the most desirable given our age and family situations. So this next year, we will be focusing on getting back to our roots, and driving up our online presence again. Online has been our audience since Numbers’ inception, and we feel that online presence has proven to be much more successful than our local presence. Expect music videos, updates, announcements, tutorials, and plenty more on our YouTube channel.
I want to switch gears to discuss a bit more about you personally. Art itself can be expressed in a variety of ways, and almost like the band itself, you seem to be adept at several different mediums. Are these just hobbies or something that you do full time?
I went to Northwest College of Art & Design and majored in Multimedia and minored in Design. All throughout college, I was playing music in bands and practicing piano avidly. It was funny because I left high school thinking art was my passion and music was a hobby, but college made me realize that it was quite the opposite. Music is my passion and full-time desire, but obviously this kind of music doesn’t pay well immediately, so in the meantime, I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work for bands including logo design, lyric videos, music videos, commercial work for small businesses, and some internal media for bigger businesses. I love making videos and designing things –– but music is where my heart will remain.
Basically, I’m using my other abilities to keep myself financially afloat until I can make Numbers (and music in general) my full-time career, which is so hard to do, but I like giving myself big goals to work towards to keep myself busy in life. I still have a long road to travel before Numbers can financially support me and my band members, but it’s a road I’m not willing to give up on.
I very much enjoyed your blog post titled #SUDOCHRISTIAN. It’s quite clear that faith is an important aspect of your life. Does this spill over into the band itself or is it more of a personal situation for you?
My faith will always bleed into my artwork, including Numbers. I address God frequently throughout Three, I sing about my demons and my struggles in life which made Three a very personal album. However, we don’t consider and never will consider Numbers as a “Christian metal” band. When this band was founded, I was the only Christian, and I never want Numbers to fall into that pigeon-holed trap of being labeled as “Christian metal.” We’d suddenly be held to some stupid expectation that everything we write about is Christian-catered, which it certainly isn’t.
Bottom-line: I write the lyrics, and I believe in God. My beliefs, and the emotions that surround them will always be written about –– but my faith is just a large chunk of who I am as a whole.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
We know things have been somewhat quiet lately, but we have full intent on keeping Numbers going forward with new videos and music for your pleasure. We are in the middle of a lineup change, and if you are interested in playing bass for Numbers, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Fans, we couldn’t be where we are without you, and we thank you for your continued support with each release!
Stay connected with us: numbersmusic.net