Local post hardcore rockers I Prevail are making a stop in their hometown for their "Crossroads Tour" on August 21 at the Royal Oak Music Theater.
Garnering national attention for their “Blank Space” cover, I Prevail ascended to stardom in a very unorthodox fashion. A product of viral videos, their cover of the popular Taylor Swift song peaked at 23 of the US Mainstream Rock Charts, 90 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned almost 14 million views on YouTube.
Member Eric Vanlerberghe told Rochester College’s Shield, “We started writing at 10 a.m. one day and worked until 1 a.m. the next morning. We woke up at 9 a.m. that day and did not stop working until the end of the day.
“In under two days, we finished writing our cover and in two weeks were able to make it public. In terms of making onto Billboard, I am still waiting to wake up and find out it was all just a dream. The success that we have had was better than we could have imagined.”
And the hits roll on. Their album Heart vs. Mind climbed to the number five spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
Lead guitarist Steve Manoian talked to us on the phone while the band was readying to play Portland, OR.
Metro Times: Before the “Blank Space” cover, what were your careers as musicians like? Steve Manoian: Pretty much nonexistent actually. We were kind of like smaller local bands. I was actually working at a bank in Troy. We just started this project and basically started writing music. We started writing and wanted to see where it went and it went really well. We realized we wanted to do this and started getting members. And here we are two years later.
MT: Most people don’t see a musician’s life on the road. What are some things people don’t know about touring around the country? Manoian: One thing that nobody ever told me about touring is basically you live in a Walmart parking lot. People are like “What is this city like? What is that city like?” A lot of times you just wake up in a different Walmart parking lot. We actually can’t complain. We are in a bandwagon, kind of between a bus and an RV. But it’s designed specifically for bands. It’s 11 guys living in 50 square feet. I’ll let your imagination run on what can happen then. Needless to say everybody smells really good all of the time.
MT: “Heart vs Mind” is a cool concept. A lot of life decisions work around this struggle—- I can work more and get more money but I’ll spend time away from my family. What drove the “Heart vs. Mind” album? Manoian: That’s pretty much exactly it. We were all to that point where we were all getting into the project. At the same time I had a corporate job or whatever. Pretty much everyone in your life tells you to play it safe and take the safe route. Some of the guys were trying to figure out how to go ahead with school and trying to figure out life. It is kind of the underlying theme—- go with your passion or play it safe. Easy to say, the heart won this time.
MT: Based on your music videos, it is apparent that you all are a close knit team. Tell me about what makes you guys a team… Manoian: It’s kind of a weird situation. People thought we were childhood friends growing up; that we just had these friendships to begin with. But we’ve become best friends for sure. Trying to find musicians, it’s just one of those things where you won’t always find the same mindset that wants to go in the same direction as you do. I just got really lucky everybody on this project has been on this creatively. We all have business minds too. We complement each other well. Brian [Burkheiser] is really good with things like social media. I’m more on the business end. We work well.
MT: Eric Vanlerberghe said to your fans “getting to meet you and play your shows is the most humbling experience ever.” How does playing shows humble someone? Manoian: I guess what he meant by “humbling” is that grateful is more the word. When we launched this thing, we had a couple of songs. We put all our stuff up like December of last year. So we had two or three months where the band was just online. Then we played a lot of shows and after every show we saw every kid that wanted to meet us, just how they connect to the music. We’ve been really grateful for the people that support us. Anytime we’ll help out and fly in if they want us.
MT: You’re playing your hometown. What makes it special? Manoian: It’s actually like we played one hometown show before at the Crofoot in mid-March. It was actually our third show ever as a band. It was in front of 1100 people. It was one of the best nights of my life and probably the scariest too. We really put ourselves into the moment. We had record labels out there. It was a whirlwind of a day. But now that we have been on tour for months and months we’ll be able to enjoy the hometown. We can see friends, family and familiar faces. Michigan has been so good to us. We are ready to go hit them up there.