New Heights | Band

New Heights members Travis Graham, Chris Kwak, Tyler “Taco” Carroll and Bobby Walker have had quite the year. With a new full-length album, “Something to Believe,” to add to their YouTube repertoire — and an original song “Peaches” that garnered attention after it was featured in the short film, “Love Language,” by The Jubilee Project — the boys of New Heights have certainly executed what they aimed to accomplish. Despite their success, the band remains humble, advising aspiring musicians to maintain their professionalism and to always strive for more. Can we expect future projects from New Heights? Check out the interview for exclusive details!
Fun Facts

What takes up most of your time right now?

 

Travis: Music. I work at my church too so I do music there. Saturday and Sunday is music there and then Monday through Friday is music production so it’s like music in general. Then I try to write for the band between that and the shows. It’s always music to my hears when I hang out with these guys
Chris: School and touring.
Bobby: School and I work a job.
Taco: I have a job too. My family owns a Christmas tree farm so I work on the farm in Washington because obviously we have a lot of Christmas trees there.
Travis: But only certain times of the year right?
Taco: Well, we grow them year round, Travis. We only really market and sell them during Christmas time because, obviously, it’s a Christmas tree farm. Christmas comes and then post Christmas we plant the tree. Just kidding, I go to school (college) and I do music full time as a job in Seattle.

 

Do any of you have a guilty pleasure?

 

Travis: Justin Bieber and any female pop music.
Taco: Taylor Swift. Katy Perry. Love it.
Chris: I have some but I think it’s embarrassing to say it.
Taco: I have one (for Chris). He loves chick flicks.
Chris: I was just going to say that! “500 Days of Summer” is one of my favorite movies. Is that a chick flick?
Taco: I’d say borderline.
Travis: Yeah, JGL (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is in it. What was that one movie — “27 Dresses?
Chris: That is not my favorite movie!
Travis: We were at the grocery store and it was there and he goes, “Oh my God! It’s ‘27 Dresses,’ guys!”
Chris: I did not do that! I really did not do that! Guys, I want to get married eventually, OK?
Bobby:  I’d say the only thing is Justin Bieber. I really like Justin Bieber. P90X!
Taco: I’m just trying to be original right now because they just ragged on Bobby. Taylor Swift?
Bobby: Taylor Swift is definitely a crush and a guilty pleasure. Sometimes when I’m on the bus, going to school, I make sure my headphones aren’t turned up too loud. I don’t want people sitting next to me to think that I’m listening to “I was enchanted to meet you” (singing) [Enchanted] And some guy next to me is like, “Yo, this guy is super into this song!”
Travis: Dude! That’s what I do in the car!
Bobby: I’d say that is a guilty pleasure. She [Swift] is a good song writer.

 

What is your relationship status?

 

Travis: Currently dating
Chris: Single
Bobby: It’s complicated. Tangled.
Taco: I’m also single.

 

Are there any crazy stories from being on tour?

 

Travis: We thought we saw a UFO in Canada once.
Chris: We hit a deer.
Travis: We hit it going 60 mph with my dad’s F-250.
Bobby: We almost got swallowed by a tornado.
Travis: That’s crazy. So we were in Arkansas and there were two tornadoes within a mile. There was a tornado forming right above our hotel room.

 

Do you guys have a band inside joke?

 

Taco: There are a lot but they’re also inappropriate.
Travis: Chris likes “27 Dresses.”
Chris: Wow really? It’s not true! You could put “Love Actually” in!
Travis: That doesn’t make it any better!
Chris: It does make it better because I don’t even like “27 Dresses!”
Taco: I don’ t know if we have an actual inside joke. I think you just heard it.

 

Are any of you guys afraid of heights?

 

Travis: Yes, I am terrified.

Do you guys have any pet peeves?

 

Travis: Lip smacking
Taco: I never knew what my pet peeve was until recently. My pet peeve is when people are really bad with their phones — you text them back and they never respond or you call them and you know they’re screening your calls.
Travis: Dude, I don’t do that that often to you.
Taco: People who don’t return calls at all or text back.
Travis: I guess the general contest is when people don’t follow through.
Bobby: I don’t like when people wear their sunglasses inside — unless you’re like, Leonardo DiCaprio and unless you’re on stage. When people are in grocery stores, like in Ralphs, with their sunglasses on, [it bothers me because] it’s like they’re getting carrots and celery and you don’t need to look that cool.

 

What’s your ideal girl like?

 

Travis: My girlfriend.
Chris: Travis’ girlfriend. (laughs)
Travis: My pet peeve is people who like my girlfriend!
Bobby: Probably needs to be able to run at 100 mph and be able to save me.
Travis: Your ideal girl is Wonder Woman.
Bobby: Cat woman.
Taco: Have you ever heard of Taylor Swift before? Next question!

 

What is your favorite song to sing in the shower?

 

Travis: It was “Bleeding Love,” but then we covered it. Now, probably Justin Bieber songs, like “That Should Be Me.”
Chris: I don’t really sing in the shower.
Bobby: I have to say, Buckcherry. I don’t really sing in the shower.
Taco: Well, I do sing in the shower. I like to sing Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.”
Taco: It gets a little high at a couple points, but I just kind of go for it and hope no one is listening.

 

What is a fun fact about the group?

 

Travis: We all really like Justin Bieber.
Chris: We were on allkpop even though we have two white guys and I’m the only Korean.

 

How about a funner fact?

 

Taco: I really like cats, so much that when I was on tour last time, I took a picture with a cat every time I saw one. Should I have not said that?
Travis: My grandparents had this cat named Stormy for years. They live in a tiny town called Estherville in Iowa. It was winter when Stormy died. My grandmother wanted to bury the cat in the garden, but there was snow, so when the cat died they put it in the freezer in Tupperware. They ended up waiting until summer time to bury it.
Bobby: I’m a sucker for sweets.

You guys performed back in high school. Can you tell us how you got together as a band? Did you guys expect to continue making music years later?

Travis: Chris and I have been with the band for 7 years. Bobby and Taco have been with us for almost 2 years now. There have been a lot of changes as far as band members go. We are now a 4-piece. Long story short: we spoke last November, when we were playing in Irvine and when our guitarist was leaving the band. We wanted to just do one more record, end it on a good note and see what happened. This is supposed to be our big hurrah ending everything.
Chris: We said we’d see how 2011 would play out. We started writing and kept going, but if it didn’t work out then we were going to put it to an end.

How would you describe the New Heights sound?

Travis: It’s alternative pop/rock. We’ve kind of been struggling with our sound for a while, trying to figure out where we fit. We’re very proud of this record because we feel like we’ve finally found it.
Chris: I think it’s constantly changing too, but it’s definitely a distinct sound on this record. Travis and I were talking about that and if we do another one [record] next year, we think it’s going to be completely different. It’s constantly evolving and constantly being influenced by the music we are listening to.

A little birdie told us your drummer’s name is Taco. How did this name come about and do the rest of you have nicknames for each other?

Travis: Well, Taco is our bassist. We call Bobby “Bobbo” and Chris, “27 Dresses.”
Chris: Wow, really? I’m a fan of honest journalism and that’s just not true.
Taco: He’s in denial, obviously

What is the song writing process in the group and how do each of you contribute to the sound of the music?

Travis: Usually it’s Chris and I that have been writing a lot. It starts off with an idea. We always record ideas that we have in our heads onto our phones. It always starts with a melody. Then we show each other and see if we like it. If we like it, we get together.
Chris: Then we take it to the band and let Bobby do whatever he wants. He writes his own drum parts. Taco does the same thing. Musically, I think everyone has their part. In terms of writing, it’s mostly me and Travis.
Travis: When it comes to studio time, that’s when we arrange and solidify things.

Who are your musical inspirations?

Travis: What I do a lot of the times is, I listen to the records and then find the producers who did everything behind the scenes — who mixed, who produced and who arranged. Then I try to find other records that those people have produced. Matt Kearney released a new record in April and we’re all in love with it. I’m looking for other things that his producers have done. I grew up listening to a lot of Christian music and now it’s just a lot of pop stuff like Bruno Mars, One Republic and Ryan Tedder — he is a genius.
Chris: My favorite band is Coldplay and the bands that have stood the test of time — U2, The Beatles. Recently, I have been into One Republic and Bruno Mars — anything with a really good melody.
Bobby: When it comes to things, I listen to Matt Kearney. I’m a huge Coldplay fan — I love Coldplay. When it comes to listening to certain drummers, I listen to Matt Kearney’s drummer — Steve Jordan is amazing.
Taco: I love R&B, so I listen to D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder and Musiq Soulchild. I like a lot of R&B and a lot of soul.
Travis: We were just bumpin’ to Chris Brown.
Taco: Yeah, that was cool. I love Raphael Saadiq. Yeah, that it. Those are my guys.

You guys have put out three EPs, what was it like releasing a full album?

Travis: It’s crazy! We’ve always wanted to do a full record, like full-length, but it just seemed smarter in every way to put out mini albums, like EPs. This one was almost like a journey because we’ve had all these great ideas for songs brewing for a long time. It was an amazing process. It’s great to finally have a full-length record after doing it for so long.
Chris: It’s more sentimental for us just because it could be the last one. We’re living in an era where it’s just not feasible for put out a full record because people just don’t care. We just needed to do it to stay together.
Taco: It was a good journey. It was really fun.

Despite being around for about 5 years, New Heights is relatively new to the media game. How has new media effected the growth of the band?

Travis: It’s been crazy, awesome! Our song “Peaches” was on “Love Language” by The Jubilee Project. People started remaking it and “Peaches” started going everywhere — out of nowhere, we never expected it. Talking to a lot of friends about using social marketing to help our album and help our careers has really given us a different perspective on the whole music industry.

Also, meeting artists, like Clara, and other people who are making music without a label and without all these things you thought you needed growing up — it’s just super inspiring. With the Internet, artists can live comfortably doing what they want to do. I think that is most inspiring to us because it has helped in every aspect for music and getting music out there for people.
Chris: We got really lucky, especially with “Love Language.” Eddy, Jason and Eric from The Jubilee Project are great friends of ours and we owe a lot to what’s happened to us in the past years to them. If it wasn’t for them wanting to use our song, we might not be here right now.

New Heights has done a lot of collaborations with a bunch of Internet artists, all of whom are not exactly based in or near Seattle. How does the band go about reaching out to these musicians? Can we expect more projects in the future?

Travis: When we say we owe a lot to the guys of The Jubilee Project, it’s because we met Clara and Megan Lee through them. They sent out e-mail messages to all these people. It was like, “Hey, you guys have to meet my boys New Heights.” We would come through randomly to LA and grab lunch with these people and talk. It’s awesome when we can become friends with people that are in the same realm as you, doing the same thing. It clicks so easily and I think that’s what happened with all these people. Every time we come to LA, we try to make it a point to meet and connect with different artists, just to get to know them. It’s inspiring to be around other people that are grinding like you. When we got to the ISA (International Secret Agents) tour, the flood gates opened, everyone was there and everyone was down to kick it and be homies, it was really cool.

Can we expect any upcoming collaborations?

Travis: I just did a cover with Cathy Nguyen the other day, which just posted a few hours ago. We do have a plan that we’re thinking of right now.
Chris: We can’t really say.
Travis: It is kind of ‘hush-hush’ right now. We plan on releasing more covers and more music videos because people like them. Fans are also asking for more collaborations with artists. Get ready because they are going to be pretty epic.
Chris: Sorry for those who have been waiting for our music video with Brian Joo, “Nightmare.” It’s going to be out soon. We’re just not going to release a date anymore because we don’t want to disappoint.
Travis: Just know that our guys and friends that have been working on it tirelessly for a long time.
Chris: Our friend Derrick who works for WongFu has been doing all the post production and it’s been a lot of work.
Travis: He’s been amazing. He’s stayed up for a week straight or something just working — so has Dan Fisher and Ed Park. It’s amazing.

Who comes up with the ideas for your videos?

Travis: Dan and I have been talking a lot about the video. The song is about a friend taking on your issues. We had Clara sing on the track and we got inspiration from other videos because we thought, why not just have this full-blown action scene. It was crazy how everything happened. We owe a lot to Dan Fisher and Ed Park because they made a lot of things happen — things that we would have never guessed, like the Lamborghini. Derrick too, he’s doing a lot of the after effects for our next video. He also did all the gun shots in the last video. We were stunned when we got it.

Pursuing a career in entertainment could be a gamble for some. How supportive were your parents when you first started? How do they feel now?

Travis: My parents, I’m really blessed to have them. If I didn’t have their support, I don’t think I’d be doing it right now. They’ve been supportive since day one, ever since I started doing music.
Chris: My parents are very supportive. Being an Asian American, it’s really hard to take time from school. They are supportive, but not about it taking time away from school in the beginning.
Bobby: My parents have been supporting me since day one. My dad’s a drummer, so it was all about drumming when I grew up. I don’t know too many parents that let their 18-year-old son fly around the country. I love my parents, they let me do whatever I want.
Taco: My mom is awesome. She loves that I get to play music and do what I love. She’s always been very supportive, especially since I started working. It’s nice to have that support and encouragement. It’s also nice to have someone to listen to you and who’s excited about the different things you are doing. It’s really healthy and helpful in music. It’s a roller coaster of different highs and lows, as far as being a working musician, so it’s really nice to come back to that constant foundation of support. She lives a little far away from where I live, but we talk on the phone. She’s cool.

You guys have been away from home recently, how has your experience been on the West Coast and touring in general?

Travis: It’s been good. It’s been great. We’ve been meeting a lot of people and making a lot of good friends, people who I feel are going to be there for life. The tours have been great and shows have been awesome thus far. The fans are so supportive. It’s still a trip to get tweets from people from other countries and other parts of the world where they listen to our music. It’s an honor to us and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring musicians?

Taco: My words of wisdom for musicians is professionalism no matter what the gig is. I think you never know who’s in the crowd watching. A lot of people are talented musicians and players but I think the way you carry yourself, your character and your relationship with different venues and others artists — such as being punctual and being prepared — are the things that speak louder than physical talent. Carry that mentality to every gig regardless if it’s in front of 6,000 people or 50 people. As weird as it sounds, big opportunities can come from shows that you think would never have big opportunities. Besides playing and being good at your craft, there’s a persona, a character, a punctuality and professionalism that should be focused on. It can actually take you really far.
Bobby: I would totally say what Taco said but, aside from that, another thing would be to always have that one person to look up to, whether it’s to just better yourself. Don’t put yourself above anyone else.  Always have someone to look up to, someone you can learn from. Make yourself better. Never settle. Make sure you’re always looking for the ‘better’ in yourself.
Chris: Being talented, being skillful and having good music is important, but networking and making good relationships with people is just as important. I think we’ve learned that in the past 7 years, it doesn’t necessarily depend on how good we are, it’s definitely important, but it’s also about who we know. In this industry, it helps if you have good music, but if you’re trying to make it, you need to make good relationships with people.
Travis: I’d have to second everything they’ve said. We’ve all learned a lot these past few years like, keeping a good mindset, never settling for less, always pursuing our individual crafts and always pushing for greater, because it keeps you humble. There are so many talented people in the world and I think if you start to see that you’re really good and start to get cocky, it’s never good. I think a lot of that can stem from not being professional and being known across the world. Continue pushing for better because everyone can improve, everyone can get better. Even John Mayer can be better, not just in music, but by being a better person. Having good character will definitely help you in your professional and personal life.

How do we stalk you?

Travis: Just come over to my house. Just watch me.

Web site: http://www.new-heights.net/
YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/newheightsmusic
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/newheightsmusic
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/newheights

Travis: @travisheights
Chris: @chrisheights
Bobby: @bobbywalkerug
Taco: @_tylercarroll

Photography by Melly Lee

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