By Kristen Roberts
Highwind founder and vocalist, Chris Russo, released his debut EP this January. This five track EP titled How’ve You Been? is a pop-punk smash. The band’s sound is reminiscent of the band All Time Low’s early work. The EP’s raw lyrics speak to some of the hope and fears of young people everywhere. Lyrics such as “I’m hoping that I end up somewhere. I never thought I’d end up in here” pack a major punch and deeply resonate with those who may feel lost or confused at this point in their lives. How’ve You Been? is the much needed revival of the unmatched mid-2000s style of punk music. With this strong debut, Highwind has become one of the new bands to watch in the pop-punk scene.
What kind of emotions were you experiencing before releasing your debut EP?
I was feeling a whirlwind of different emotions during the writing process. Heartbreak, anxiety, excitement, determination. As for the EP release itself, pure excitement, and impatience. This record as a whole means the world to me. I really put my emotions on a canvas for everyone to see. While the songs took a lot out of me emotionally, I felt the same excitement a kid feels in a candy store while getting ready to release this EP.
Where do you draw writing inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from real situations that I’ve been through, as well as emotions I’ve felt. Almost every song I write is brutally honest about myself or a situation I’ve been through. You’ll find some off-topic songs here and there that just kind of happen. But most of my songs come from me using my writing to let emotions out. Writing is very therapeutic for me.
“Almost every song I write is brutally honest about myself or a situation I’ve been through.”
What comes first, music or lyrics?
The answer is yes. I always write music and lyrics at the same time. I start with one part of the song, whether it be a chorus, a verse, or a bridge. Then I let the rest of the song unfold from there.
You’ve been in other bands in the past. How does Highwind differ from those?
Highwind is great because I have complete control over everything that happens. I have full creative control over the songwriting. I can write about whatever I want, however I want. Writing for Highwind is honestly so freeing. All of the business aspects of being in a band are also being handled by one person. As busy and as tiring as it can be, it’s so comforting knowing everything is getting done the way I want it or need it to.
Has your experience with previous bands affected the type of music you want to create?
Definitely. Having been in multiple bands of different genres before, it really gave me a sense of what I wanted to play and what kind of sound I wanted to give the emotions I’m writing about. With that being said, I try my best to not stick to one particular sound with Highwind. Instead of sticking to one specific style of rock, I like to think I can float along the spectrum of alternative and rock with this project. At the end of the day, I just want to write music and have fun with it, you know?
What do you want listeners to take away from this EP?
The message behind the How’ve You Been? EP is pretty straightforward. It is completely okay to be open and honest with yourself and others. It’s completely okay to talk about your issues or things that you are struggling with. I want others to know and feel comfortable with the fact that we all struggle and it is okay to ask for help when need be, regardless of what your situation is.
I want others to know and feel comfortable with the fact that we all struggle and it is okay to ask for help when need be, regardless of what your situation is.
Do you purposely write about such powerful emotions in your music or do they just flow out during writing sessions?
It all just kind of happens. I could never write about something I can’t be honest about. I can’t force a song to happen. I’ve strongly disliked every song I’ve ever tried to force out of me. I just let my songs flow naturally, they just happen to be about emotional topics.
Do the subjects of the songs affect the sound or how you approach them?
I guess so? I mean, I’m not really sure. A lot of my songs just kind of happen, I just let them flow naturally. Once a song is started or written, I never feel right changing how it sounds. Like, I can’t picture, “Synchronicity,” sounding any way other than how it sounds now. I can’t picture, “Afterlife,” being any different than how it is now.
“Afterlife (How’ve You Been?)” is clearly about a close friend who has passed. Did writing about it help you come to terms with this tragic event?
It definitely helped me get a lot off of my chest. Even performing it helps me release a lot of lingering emotions I still have about what happened to Adam. It’s still hard to deal with to this day, it always will be. But knowing that he and his memory are memorialized in a song makes me feel...comforted in a sense.
What can we expect from Highwind in the future? Tour? Full-length album?
I’m constantly writing new music, so there will definitely be new music happening over the course of the next year or two. I also plan on doing a lot of weekend runs between now and next year. I would love to make a full tour happen sometime down the road as well. I also have a few other surprises thrown in here and there as well that I cannot wait to share with everyone!