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Interview with Above The City guitarist Simon Pesely

Above The City

On the heels of an inaugural show last week featuring Rob Zombie, the first "all locals" show at new music venue Ace of Spades goes down Saturday. SacShows Presents: Soundcheck will feature performances by local bands Ten After Two, Carcerys Vale, Batten Down Your Heart, Above The City, The Winter Formal, City of Kings, and Oneira.

Above The City is a relatively young, currently unsigned band made up of members Davey Sparks (vocals), Simon Pesely (guitar), Taylor Whitehurst (guitar), Zack Lee (drums) and Toby Hart (bass).

The Sacramento Press recently spoke with Pesely, 21, about being in an up-and-coming band in Sacramento.

How did Above The City get started?

We started about nine months ago. I believe it was March of 2010. Taylor and I initially got together and started jamming, and then Davey came into the picture, and and we played with Zach, and then we had another guy on the bass. Things got more serious, so we brought our friend Toby in, and he’s been with us virtually from the start as well.

Where does the name Above The City come from?

The name was Taylor’s idea. It doesn’t have any real particular meaning aside from the fact that it was just a name we really dug, and it was rare and unique and we liked it for that fact, and it just caught on. And it’s a simple nickname, and the abbreviation is ATC.

ATC flows well.

Yeah, exactly. It’s easy to remember.

How long have you been playing guitar?

I’ve been playing guitar for about two years now. I initially started out playing the drums and then switched over, and Taylor and I got together and started playing and it just really worked out.

What kind of gear do you use?

Peavey 5150 heads, Schecter guitars, a few different Boss effect pedals. For the most part it’s pretty straightforward.

I’m pretty new to the "screamo" genre. How would you describe ATC’s sound for someone who wasn’t familiar with it?

It’s an alternative, poppy sound with the higher vocals and more in-depth melodies, and really heavy, crunching breakdowns. Hardcore, screamo, a little bit of everything in there.

What sets apart a good screamo song from the rest?

I think it’s really just being unique and being able to combine all styles — a lot of smooth transitions and just showing your talent and that you can all work as one. Being prolific, you know?

What do you think about the current music scene in Sacramento?

I’d say the scene right now is really strong. There’s a good driving force of young teens to mid-20s and older. Everyone’s being really supportive. There’s so much family for all the bands out there. The scene is this connected web of musical allegiance, I guess is a good way of putting it.

It’s great to see the Sac music scene coming about. Eric Rushing is a guy who’s doing a great thing by opening this venue, and everyone is working really hard to make the Sacramento music scene better. I couldn’t even say it lacks really. There’s a lot of great shows coming through here. Ace of Spades is going to open up huge doors.

I’m looking forward to checking out Ace of Spades. It looks like it’s going to be pretty cool.

It’s definitely going to be, I think, one of the biggest assets to Sacramento’s music scene in the history of the music scene, hands down. Large capacity, better sound, better quality, everything.

What local bands are you into?

Ten After Two. They’re great guys. They’re really young and they got a lot of talent, a lot of good stuff going for them. Carcerys Vale is another really good one. They’re great friends of ours, good musicians. They’re coming up really big in the world.

What’s your favorite venue to perform at?

It’s always fun to play at the Boardwalk. There are always a lot of great shows out there. Now, everyone is really, truly looking forward to Ace of Spades. This one coming up is the big shebang for us. We’re all really excited and really proud to be playing it.

What can people expect when they go to see ATC perform?

We’re really into the music. We have a great light show. A guy named Aaron Muir does lights for us, and he does a really good job at it. We’re really solid playing live, and energetic. We’re out here doing what we love: trying to spread the word and be as unique as possible, bring the fans out and play good music.

Any plans for a tour in the near future?

We’re hoping to by the middle of this year. We’re planning on going out and hitting a few dates in Southern California and hopefully a lot more than that. In the next month or so we should have a lot more things set in stone.

What’s your ultimate goal as you continue to pursue music?

Our ultimate goal is to hopefully get signed to a record label, and to get out there and tour and spread the word, enjoy the scene and meet new people, and to travel and see the world.

What’s next for ATC?

We actually just went and recorded some stuff, and we have some really good news we’ll be dropping here in the next month or so. We’re really excited we’re with Outerloop Management. They’re doing a lot of good stuff for us. As of right now, we’re just marketing and trying to get ourselves out there more and more. We just released a brand new studio update, our first one ever today, actually — our very first video blog.

As a fairly young band, you guys have made a lot of progress.

Yeah, we work really hard. We dedicated our lives to it. We spend every day practicing, nonstop. Davey lives in Yuba City and Taylor lives in Stockton, so we have long commutes. We put in a lot of miles to come and play every day and make sure we’re solid.

This takes 100 percent dedication.You’re going to have your ups and downs regardless, and it’s about being able to prosper through that, and keep the right mindset and stay on the right track.

Support local live music and see Above The City perform Saturday at Ace of Spades. General admission tickets are $13.95 and include service fees. All ages. 5 p.m. doors, 6 p.m. show.

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