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I got the change to do an interview with Neal Karkhanis from The Great Heights Band after his band added their music to Dozmia. Check it out below.

Hey Neal, thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

Tell me about your origins. How did you guys meet? How did the band get started?

The band didn't really start until after Paul (drummer) and I recorded a couple of songs I wrote on our own. We recorded "Portland" and "Stay" with our buddy Greg Parker at Amped Recording in Baltimore. I posted the songs on my personal facebook page and people seemed to really like it, so we decided we would play a couple of shows. I asked Linette if she wanted to play piano and sing, which was cool for her because she has never been in a band before. I played in a band with Owen a long time ago and knew he was a good bassist and easy to work with so I asked him to join up as well. The four of us wound up recording three more songs with Mike Bridgett at his studio in Waldorf, Maryland called The Monster House and wound up putting out a 5-song EP called "Weird Thoughts." We played a few shows, made a music video for "Portland" and then I moved to San Francisco for a few months. When I got back from the west coast, we were offered a record deal with CI Records, which led to recording "Songs in Eastern Standard Timing" with Eric Taft at Buzzlounge Recording in Beltsville, Maryland. Eventually, we were able to talk Eric into joining the band. Now it's the five of us and things are going pretty well.

Your album “Songs in Eastern Standard Timing” is awesome. When you guys wrote the songs, did you write out your lyrics? Do you change the songs at all during your live sets?

Thanks! I usually write words as I am writing the music - typically with an acoustic guitar. Lately, I've been writing using a piano, but all of SIEST was written with an acoustic guitar. A lot of the times, the lyrics that are written are place holders so that the vocal melody can be generally mapped out. After that, I usually rewrite the words unless something I initially wrote was great. TGHB has really tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic lyrics. A lot of it is about independence and not taking things too seriously. For the newer music we have been writing, lyrically it is a little more dark in some ways, but I try to maintain that light mood depending on the song. Eric usually helps me clean up the lyrics as we demo songs out, and he has been writing a lot of new songs for the next album as well. We normally do our own thing until we are ready to demo and then let the other one tear it apart and put it back together.

We play a different set at almost every show unless we are playing a tour. For a tour, we normally run the same set every night with minor changes here and there. We usually always play at least one cover song because it's fun, and a lot of times, we are playing for an audience for the first time and they may not be familiar with our music just yet. A cover song gives them a chance to sing along with something they might know... and of course they get a chance to judge us accordingly.

How do you build your presence online? How important is this to you?

We work really hard at building quality content. Whether it is a song or a video, we really put everything we have into it so that whoever is checking it out can at least respect it. We talk about it a lot - always putting our best foot forward - and have decided that some projects aren't the best fit for us because they may not be the best quality project.

Music is incredibly subjective when it comes to taste, but I feel like anybody can see the difference between a quality product that people put effort into and something that people may have just crapped out. That is been really huge for us. We do not just add people on Facebook or spam random pages. I think the way to build an online community is to do it by releasing genuine work that people respect and admire. It's super important for us.

What do you think of online music sharing? What are your thoughts on free music streaming?

Online music sharing is awesome for small bands like us. It gives us a small chance to actually be heard through all the other traffic, and the best way for people to check something out is to be recommended by a friend. That's why we do our best to put out quality music and videos - so people dig it and actually share it with their friends and family.

Free music streaming also has its benefits for smaller artists. Obviously, the more free music streaming, the less an artist is going to make off their music. That being said, it's a great way to grow a fanbase and do what is really going to help the artist and the finances - getting people out to shows!

Do you have any advice for other bands that are just starting out?

Jeremy Weiss, owner of CI Records who put out our first album, gave me the best advice I have heard so far, so I'll share it here. Jeremy said to be prolific. He said to write hundreds and thousands of songs. Maybe a few may actually catch on. Since that conversation, I have written maybe 50 songs, of which I have only shared maybe 15 or 20 with my band. The other 30 or so need work! So my advice is to keep writing, keep practicing and to keep having fun. You never know what can happen, but at the very least, you will get better and have a good time doing it.

Anything you’d like to share?

Yes! "Songs in Eastern Standard Timing" is available everywhere online as well as through CI Records. We will be playing a few midwest dates in April followed by supporting Bayside at the Launch Music Conference and Festival in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Check out the band, and if you dig it, share it!

Awesome, thanks for the interview Neal!

Check out The Great Heights Band's new album "Songs in Eastern Standard Timing" on Dozmia! Download the app here: https://appsto.re/us/EJoW8.i


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