By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
By Michele Eve Sandberg
By Abel Folgar
By Ashley Zimmerman
By New Times Staff
By Abel Folgar
By Laurie Charles
Early last year, when Boca Raton's Fallen From the Sky came up with the artwork for its self-titled EP (on JMB Records), it had no idea that the Mountain Dew can drawn on the back cover was a premonition of sorts. By mid '06, FFTS was in the running for MTV2's/Mountain Dew's/Freedom Zone's Dew Circuit Breakout, a six-month battle for a grand-prize package any band would wet themselves over, including $15,000 worth of Guitar Center gear, a write-up in Alternative Press, and a spot on the 2007 Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey. Though FFTS came in second place (California's Halifax took first), the experience left the band with enough exposure and new friends to make its upcoming tour a little less painful. FFTS vocalist Ryan Loughney recently spoke with New Times about the Breakout, touring, and the bubbly green jolt of caffeine that made it all possible.
New Times: So how'd you get to be one of the six bands chosen for the Breakout? Did you just send in a media kit and wait?
Ryan Loughney: We signed up and were chosen for [Mountain Dew's] AMP 6Pack program, which got sent out to every college radio station in America. They put together a six-minute segment that had our bio and music. For every time a station plays that, the band gets money set aside. Out of the 200 or so bands on the 6Packs that year, they chose a top ten for the Circuit Breakout. That was judged and voted by the college radio personnel, people from Freedom Zone, MTV2, and Mountain Dew. So we got voted in to the top ten, then made the cut for the top six, and then [were] voted with over a million votes into the top three.
It was solely up to the fans, right?
From top six to the top three. The missions [battles] that we did on the show helped our votes. Won both missions against I Am the Avalanche, our challengers.
You played against them in Philadelphia? Was it a normal show, or was it more like a studio?
It was basically like a regular show with cameras rolling. It was fun.
Was it competitive?
No, not at all. The whole contest didn't even feel like we were competing. We did our challenges in separate areas, on separate days. We didn't see each other, so we just had fun with it. As far as the show went, it was just a show. We're big fans of I Am the Avalanche. Singing along and hanging out like at a normal show, and they were kind of doing the same. Even in the finals when it was Zolof [the Rock & Roll Destroyer], Halifax, and us, we were all hanging out all day, at the hotel or wherever. Obviously we were there to win, but it didn't feel like a competition.
How was this different from the local battles you used to enter? You've won a few, haven't you?
The ones we won were from two years ago, when we were growing up. For the most part, they were pretty silly. But at the time, they were great. They're especially good for an up-and-coming band, because they help your band fund with cash prizes and stuff. And as lame as they are, you're playing to a big crowd.
Even though you didn't take first place, you must have gotten something out of this, right?
The prize was basically the exposure. There's no second-place prize.
But you must have made some good contacts.
Oh, definitely. And our MySpace page has been going crazy. Before, a good day was 1,000 plays. Now it's 5,000 plays. Lately, I don't think it's been any lower than 900 plays a day. Since the contest, 2,000 new friends. That alone has been huge. Plus, we picked up an Ampeg endorsement for our bass player, a Dean Markley endorsement for strings. We're working on some clothing endorsements. Hoping for a bigger label to pick us up for the full-length. Like to put something out in February, but realistically, between tour and shopping, it's after the tour.
We missed the deadline, but we have some friends who run a label out there. We're going to see if we can hop on some of their dates. If worse comes to worst, we're going to be out there promoting and playing some local shows in the area.
Now that it's all said and done, do you do the Dew?
Yes, we do. I was a huge Mountain Dew fan prior to the Breakout. When we won the 6Pack, they sent us a ton of Mountain Dew. I was stoked.