Indie403 is proud to present Open AIR as our Feature Artist of the Month for February!
Open AIR has grown as a band, and as men. They are not a band of misfits. Open AIR is all about fun, but as they mature, their shows are about taking the band to the next level and becoming a band synonymous with Calgary. Open AIR are five guys who live, breathe and create high-tempo, soulful music that modernizes the classic rock sound that laid the groundwork for the music we love today. It is for this reason that they are Indie403’s Featured Artists of the Month.
The New Record
Open AIR is Steven Mansfield (vocals), Steve Lilley (guitar and keyboard), Garrett Greenhall (guitar), Josh Hearnden (drums) and Tyler Bourne (bass), five best friends who all wanted the new record, Extended Play, “to be absolutely perfect.”
“We really wanted to make this one our own,” says Greenhall. “Everybody went in knowing what they wanted on a personal level, as far as guitar tones, drum tones [and] bass tones.” The band would pay for studio time to track a song, only to take it out of the record at the next session. As Hearnden puts it, “You go take after take, after take, after take and you’ll nail a take, and then still in your head, you think, I can do better.” That tenacity and drive allowed for the band to mature and get Extended Play the way they wanted it.
The band members agree that Open AIR has changed entirely since the last album, taking the music and recording process more seriously. As Bourne notes, “We just kind of looked back at the first time we were in the studio, and just thought, these are the things we could do better.”
The album was supposed to be released in December, but the constant tinkering and the perfectionist attitude of the band continuously pushed the album back. The last album was released for a festival with no time to hype the release. This time, they’ve allowed their album to slowly get into the minds of their fans. Now with the album ready, Open AIR is ready to shake up Calgary.
Five Best Friends
A lot of bands we know and love consist of egos fighting for superiority. Singers battle drummers for the crowd’s attention, and bassists fight to get the song they wrote on the new record. Those battles don’t exist within Open AIR. They are five easygoing best friends who are following a collective dream.
“I came back from England when Garrett was first in the band, and I’m already getting ripped on by Garrett, the new guy, [on] day one,” reveals Mansfield. This ribbing caught the attention of the drummer, who immediately became a fan of the new guitarist.
“I went to jam with these guys for the first time, and … I didn’t know what to expect,” laughs Greenhall. “Twenty minutes into it, I was like, these guys are just as fucked up as me.”
Hearnden agrees: “(Garrett) fit right in. He made fun of our singer, and it was love at first sight.”
The band played at Blankfest in Calgary in November 2012 and took the long drive to Vancouver for that city’s version of the show. Some bands may fight throughout the long drive, but not Open AIR.
“The night before we left for Vancouver, we all came over to my place, and we ended up getting into the beer a little bit,” says Greenhall, revealing the secret to the band’s easygoing relationship. Hungover and tired from only three hours of sleep, the band didn’t fight at all during the drive.
Whether Open AIR travels, jams or writes, they always stay the same. Hanging out and playing music together helps the members relieve pressure and stress, and Mansfield adds that when the guys come to practice, “you check your baggage at the door.”
It’s clear the band has a strong, supportive relationship, and a special aspect of this relationship is the bond between the two lead guitarists. Open AIR’s shredders are a duo who always have each other’s back, and in the minds of Greenhall and Lilley, they each benefit the other.
“Steve and I both have really different styles, so when we do have two solos in a song, they are completely different,” states Greenhall. While these different styles might hurt other bands, Greenhall and Lilley have used this opportunity to grow. “That’s why I like having another guitarist in the band,” Lilley explains. “You always learn something.”
Not only have Open AIR learned from each other from a musical stand point, they have learned how to handle little mistakes that can eat at a perfectionist.
After revealing an incident where he switched to maple drumsticks during a show that constantly splintered, Hearnden describes the band’s approach to learning from screw-ups: “If you come off stage, and you’re moping around, and you’re sulking, you come off as an ass,” he explains. Mistakes are a learning experience, and Open AIR has a laid back attitude that keeps their music moving forward. The band knows that they will never play a perfect show, so as Greenhall agrees, “you learn from your mistakes [but] you’ve always got to look forward.”
The Future is Bright
The five guys in Open AIR control everything about the band. Currently they are without any representation, not because they haven’t been approached, but because they just want someone who is part of the band.
“We’ve been offered [management] several times, [but] it just hasn’t worked out,” says Hearnden, and Greenhall agrees the band’s needs come first: “We’re not going to change our sound so someone will manage us or it will sell.”
The band knows what they want, and the idea of management isn’t off the table, Open AIR seems to have everything under control. What they’re trying to do now, says Mansfield, is learn the industry. “Right now we’re booking our own tour, calling radio stations, trying to get promotion, trying to get radio play.”
The future is what Open AIR is concentrating on, and that future is full of big dreams. As the band looks forward to the next year and the years that follow, the determination is there to help them succeed. They just recently purchased a van, and since the band hasn’t yet toured across Canada, they can’t wait to take it out on the road. One day soon, they hope to be able to leave their day jobs behind and concentrate on the music. A 300-day tour is a possibility they completely accept and seem to look forward to: “If we’re touring 300 days a year and we’re making enough to survive, that is all I really want to do,” reveals Greenhall.
Open AIR aren’t five arrogant men who believe the world owes them everything. Spend even five minutes with them and you hope they get the success they deserve. They love music, they love the band, and they would love for their music to reach the world. If we live in a just world, we will see them on the cover of Rolling Stone, and we will see them playing sold-out arenas all over the world. That is why they are Indie403’s Featured Artists of the Month!