Interview with Dan Candia - Guitarist of Falling Through April
Alternative Rock band Falling Through April hails from Charlotte, North Carolina. Though the bands members each come from other areas, they found each other in Charlotte and are easily becoming a band to closely watch. The band consists of vocalist, Mikaela Salazar, who is also the most recent addition along with original members, bassist, Dave Piontek, guitarists, Jim Siani and Dan Candia, and drummer, Taylor Foster. Falling Through April is a band full of energy and enthusiasm that pours out into every song both musically and lyrically. In January, they released Zodiac, their third album as a band, but debut album with powerhouse vocalist Mikaela Salazar. She brings an unrestrained vocal sound to this band that infuses magnificently with the musicianship behind each verse. They have just released the video for “Desperate Measures”, the first single off of the album and visually, it is a masterpiece and well worth watching.
TSOM - I know that FTA formed in 2011 and you all met while playing in the Charlotte indie rock scene, but how exactly did you guys come to be, as a band?
Dan - So I was actually new to the Charlotte area. I moved there from Baltimore, Maryland and I was in a relatively nationally successful band up in Maryland. I expected that moving to this big city like Charlotte, that there was going to be this incredible music scene. I went out to a bunch of shows and tried to meet as many people as I could and believe it or not, I was the last original member of the original lineup of Falling Through April and they found me on Craigslist. Dave and one other person started the band in June or July-ish. They kind of came up with the concept of Falling Through April from another band that they were in that had previously fallen apart. They still wanted to keep the dream alive so the two of them, Dave and the original vocalist, started to recruit people they knew around the scene. They knew Taylor from playing out with his band in the past and Jim actually rehearsed in the same building that they did so that’s how they kind of got together, so yeah, I was the last of the original lineup.
TSOM - I know your family has a long history of musicianship, but as an individual, when did you first know that you wanted to follow that same direction?
Dan – When I was a really little kid, I think I was like five years old, I asked my parents for a guitar. I always wanted to play guitar. I saw my dad playing. Before he would leave and go on the road, I would always ask him to just play me one song before he left and he always would. A little bit of it was seeing my dad and idolizing him but also my brother had a lot of friends that were musicians and he is five years older than I am so he would always encourage me to get out there and play, telling me I was really talented and stuff. Once I finally got a real guitar, I took it real serious. I practiced non-stop. I probably shouldn’t say this but I would actually dodge other things so that I could stick around and play guitar. I probably prioritized that over everything else. I had a lot of people encouraging me and standing behind me so yeah, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
TSOM - What was your first guitar?
Dan - My very first guitar was a Fender Stratocaster. My dad got it for me for Christmas when I was 13.
TSOM - Guitar was your first instrument of choice obviously.
Dan - Well when I was younger, I wanted to be a drummer but we lived in a town house so I wasn’t allowed to have a drum set in a town house so I had an electric guitar but my dad got me a little practice studio recorder thing that I could plug headphones into. I taught myself how to play guitar listening to other musicians.
TSOM - Aside from the familial musical influences, what bands or artists inspired you the most growing up?
Dan - I can say that when I was really little, the old 80’s style Metallica was always blasting because my brother was always playing that stuff and I thought it was the coolest thing that they could make those kinds of sounds with a guitar. That was definitely a big inspiration for me and then also some of the more classic guitar players like Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, and The Beatles. The Beatles were always played in my house. I grew up listening to a lot of the classic rock bands, blues, and blues rock. My dad always pushed me. My dad has always been a big contributor to my music. My mom is my number one fan but she wasn’t really musically inclined, but my dad was the one always telling me to learn this and learn that. I would play it and figure it out so I think I learned a lot from more of the classic style guitar.
TSOM - As a band, what have been some of the hardest obstacles to overcome?
Dan - Well, I can say that every tour we’ve ever been on, there has always been some kind of vehicle trouble. That’s like the worst thing that could ever happen. You’re on the road. You’re in an unfamiliar town and something goes wrong. It’s anything from a flat tire to literally a blown engine and blown transmission. We’ve been through it all.
TSOM - In 2016, you added vocalist, Mikaela Salazar. How did you find her and did you know right away that she would be the sound that completed the band?
Dan - We got really lucky with Mikaela. I’m not sure if any of our old stuff is online anymore. A lot of that stuff has been taken down so we don’t confuse people because we used to be fronted by a male vocalist. We didn’t want to confuse people and have them thinking “wait a minute, that’s not the band that I heard tonight”. So when we parted ways with our old singer, our producer, Jon King, out of Nashville was like, “have you guys thought about moving in the direction of maybe being a female fronted band”? Dave, the bass player and I have always, from the time we were young kids, and before it was a cool thing to do, and before it was real popular, we always wanted to have a female fronting the band. So, our producer actually discovered Mikaela. It’s weird. Craigslist again. You don’t just buy and sell furniture on Craigslist. You find rock star musicians on there. So he put us an ad with very cryptic details, not saying who the band was and he prescreened people for us. The very first person he sent was Mikaela. I know there were more that responded and he weeded through them but the first person he sent us to review with the band was Mikaela. She sent over a couple of videos, Soundcloud recordings, and her playing acoustic guitar and singing along to cover songs. We knew she was the right fit with what we were trying to do but we just weren’t sure if we were going to be Falling Through April anymore or if we were going to try to do this as a side project with her. We probably spent about six months or so before we decided, alright, she belongs with Falling Through April, so we scraped any side work we were doing and decided to keep going with Falling Through April.
TSOM - Did the four of you do anything special to help Mikaela ease into the role or was it a pretty seamless transition for everyone?
Dan - I don’t think that Mikaela realized at first just how talented she really was. When we first met her, she was really shy; not standoffish but timid and shy around us. Of course we all had history so it made sense. You walk into a room where there are four people you don’t know, let alone the four people know each other, and you don’t know any of them, it can be a little intimidating but she fits in really well personality wise. I think that after spending 6 or 7 months sitting down and polishing some of the stuff, the talent she already has really helped her confidence and built her up. She is such a good singer and really important as a vocalist but she is an incredible lyricist which blows us away. In the song writing process, we’ll put together some rough ideas and give it to her to see if she thinks she can write to it. She’ll tell us whether she’s feeling it or whether she thinks she might need some help. She’ll come back with a note pad. We wrote over 50 songs for this album and she came back and just blew it out of the park, I’d say probably 95% of the time. She always treats it like she just scribbled a couple of things on paper and we are like “are you kidding me, this is incredible”.
TSOM - Lets’ talk a little about your new album “Zodiac” which was released in January. How is it different from your prior two albums in terms of the reach it has already gained publicly through all of the radio stations, magazines, and social media platforms?
Dan - It’s definitely been an adventure. Obviously everybody believes in their own music. You hear bands say it all the time “this is our best album yet”. We all 110% believe wholeheartedly that this is the best thing that we’ve ever written, not only with this band but with previous bands that we’ve been with as well. We’re all kind of blown away and taken back by the fact that it’s out there. We’ve got over 50,000 views of the video on YouTube. We’ve got a bunch of streams on Spotify. It’s out in Footlocker worldwide and in fitness clubs, bars, and restaurants. It’s such a big list that just “Desperate Measures” alone has reached a wide audience. It’s crazy. It really is a surreal feeling but its’ good because we’ve worked so hard for this that it feels good to see all that hard work paying off in the long run. As far as how it’s different: our sound has always been very “Falling Through April”. I think the more that we’ve written together, because the four of us, the core band, the instrumental, because we’ve been together since day one, we’ve really gotten to know each other over the past six years. We’ve learned each other’s writing styles and it becomes a little bit more of a seamless process. There is really good chemistry there. I think the very first album was a mixed bag. We were all bringing different ideas and we weren’t really sure which one was the right way to go. The second album was a little more about discovering ourselves. The third album was about reinventing ourselves with a female vocalist. Quite honestly, that’s probably what we’ve been missing all along is having that style of vocal over top of our music.
TSOM - What was the inspiration behind the title of the album?
Dan - Obviously the band name is Falling Through April. We always get asked where the band name came from so I’ll hit two birds with one stone. Falling Through April, the two original band members that I mentioned, both had birthdays in April and their previous band was falling apart so they were throwing around some ideas, maybe something with their birthdays, something with April, things falling apart, or maybe April falling, just hashing out some ideas. So Falling Through April stuck. With Zodiac, when we first started writing this album, because of that transition that we were in from male to female vocal and changing those styles, and trying to figure it out, in the very beginning it had kind of an identity crisis. We were writing stuff that was too heavy and some stuff was a little too funky. We were just trying to feel it out and see what worked best with Mikaela and it kind of felt like the album had a split personality. Every one of our album titles and every one of our song titles, it all has personal meaning to us so we were trying to think what would make sense with this third album. We started talking about the fact that there are two Zodiac signs in the month of April; Taurus and Aries, which is on the cover of the album, so how do we incorporate that because it kind of felt like in the beginning, our sound had two sides. It had an A side and a B side. The more we thought about it, two Zodiac signs, let’s just call it Zodiac. Two different personalities. We get deep sometimes.
TSOM - Obviously Jon King did a bang up job producing this album. What did he add to this album that you feel might have been missing on the prior two?
Dan - We met Jon when we recorded our last album Risk and Rewards. That’s where our relationship started with Jon and we were very pleased with the interaction and the way that his ideas sit with our style. Jon has got a great imagination and he is very creative. He knows how to organize our songs in a way that if we feel like something is complete and he feels it’s incomplete, he might come back and say “it’s maybe a hair or two too long, let’s try to trim down this section”. We had one song where he completely flipped the verse, the instrumental melody that we had and the chorus, and we didn’t hear it. We didn’t see how it could even be possible but once we flipped it around and made some minor adjustments to the vocal melody and stuff like that, he was right. Jon’s really good at kind of adding that polishing touch to what we put together. If we take it 90% of the way, he takes it the other 10% to put it over the top.
TSOM - “Desperate Measures” is the first single and video to be released from this album. How does it feel to have it debut at number 13 on YouTube’s Alternative Hotlist Top 50 videos?
Dan - I can think of one word. Weird. Again, it’s so surreal to think about the company that we were in with Imagine Dragons, Marilyn Manson, Weezer. and Awol Nation. I mean, Weezer is an all-time favorite for a lot of people in this band. Just to see some of the bands that were out there that we were up on the top of the list with, to debut at number 13 amongst those other bigger, well-known bands, it was such a surreal feeling. It was really real. It was pretty cool.
TSOM - What made you decide that “Desperate Measures” should be the first single and video released?
Dan - We actually flipped the album in two different sessions when we recorded. We started out with whatever ideas we had been writing currently with Mikaela. We took 13 or 14 songs to Jon the first round and thought we had an album there. Out of those 13 or 14, he said we maybe had 4, and if he was being generous, 5 that would probably be right for the album. So we decided to record the first 4 or 5 or whatever it ended up being to see where that took us and then we’d hit the drawing board and keep writing for the second half. Of the first 5, we thought that ‘Desperate Measures” had the most commercial viability. So far so good.
TSOM - I read that the video was shot in the same town as many scenes from “The Walking Dead”. Are you all fans of the show? What drew you to this area for the video shoot?
Dan - Not all of us but yes, some of us are big fans of the show and even went as far as read all the comic books. Some of us are definitely more diehard fans than others but it was pretty cool when we found out we were going to be shooting in the same area as “The Walking Dead”. We got a little bit of a somewhat private tour of some of the other locations around town where they filmed and got to see some familiar sights from the show. It was pretty cool.
TSOM - What drew you to that place to record? Is that somewhere that Jon picked or was it something else?
Dan - Jon is super talented. He is like a one man army. I love that guy. He actually knew somebody. He had filmed in Georgia before and knew someone from the acting guild or film agency or whatever it’s called when you do the talent scouting and area scouting. So he had a contact down there that was pretty connected to the some of the people from “The Walking Dead” and had used some locations through her before. He said she could land us a good, solid place down there where we could make a good video that meets the kind of dystopian vibe that we were going for with the video and yep, he was right.
TSOM - You have a short tour coming up that begins in North Carolina. You’ve toured with some pretty amazing bands already as well your festival appearances like Warped Tour, and it is so sad that Warped is over this year. Tell me about some of the significant moments from those tours up to this point?
Dan - It is definitely sad about the Warped Tour. Kevin Lyman is a good guy. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s always been good to me and my bands. In fact, that’s kind of an industry standard. Everybody knows that Kevin is always good to his bands. Being on Warped Tour and playing, just the crowd that comes out every year is amazing. Its mind blowing that it’s been able to run as long as it has. It is sad to see that coming to an end a little bit. Some of the most memorable moments for us though, on tour, is just actually meeting is actually just meeting some of the other artists and people that we’ve been on the road with. Like you said, we’ve toured with some incredible bands. We’ve done some international touring with Adelitas Way and The Pretty Reckless. We did some national touring with Pop Evil and International with Breaking Benjamin. I can say that the guys in Adelitas Way are without a doubt my favorite guys so far to tour with. They’re just really fun guys. I’m sad that Rob is not in the band anymore. He was really funny man. Rick, honestly, he kept us sane while we were on the road with them. Night in and night out, it didn’t matter how good or how bad it was, that guy always had just a raw, positive energy. I was thankful we got to do the Axes and Anchors Cruise with them and Breaking Benjamin. It’s always good when you make a close connection with people on the road and then you get to see them again and tour with them again. Obviously with us all being on the road at different times and in different places, schedules are crazy. It’s always nice when you cross paths with people that you really enjoy like that.
TSOM - What bands or artists would make up your fantasy tour?
Dan - I guess thinking about current bands that are relevant in the scene today, I would like to go on the road with PVRIS. We met them at a Warped Tour and Lyndsey Gunnulfsen is just a phenomenal singer. They’re a great band live. I would like to hit the road with them. I think they would be a lot of fun to be on the road with. Tonight Alive, from Australia; I think they’d be a lot of fun to be on the road with, plus Australia is number one on my bucket list. I really want to go there, badly. Obviously, some of the bigger, more stable bands too. I would love to do a run with bands like Weezer, Panic at the Disco, and even Paramore.
TSOM - Oh a tour with Paramore would be fantastic, with Mikaela’s vocals, she has so many similarities; her strength, her power.
Dan - Yeah it’s hard not to get compared to Paramore being a female fronted band. They definitely paved the way and kind of pioneered a lot of that stuff. Mikaela was actually a finalist in a contest that they did on the Parahoy Cruise and actually sung one of Paramore’s songs there on the cruise with Paramore. It was a pretty cool moment for her.
TSOM - What is the band’s favorite song to play live?
Dan - It kind of depends. The cool thing about this album, not to deflect the question, but the cool thing about this album is that there is a little bit of something for everyone. So far, that’s what we’ve found. Everyone has different favorites, but I can say that every show is different for us and when we play out, the favorite ones that we play are definitely the ones where you can feel the crowd is really into it. One night the crowd might get into one song and the next night, they’re not into that one as much as another one. But for me, I think “Nothing Changes” is probably my favorite song to play live.
TSOM - What is your favorite song on the album as a whole and why?
Dan - There’s a song that I like more than the rest on the album and there’s another song that’s really personal to me. So the song that is really personal to me is “With You in Mind”. When I wrote that song, I was in a very dark place in my head and Mikaela just hit the nail on the head with her lyrics. She definitely understood exactly how I was feeling when I wrote that song and interpreted it well from the instrumental. My favorite song on the album is actually “Seven Tries”. It is very different from the style that we typically write in. When I got that back from the first round of mixes, I was on the road with Jim, on a road trip together. I was listening on headphones and it brought tears to my eyes. The song was so powerful and emotional. To sit down and listen, that’s probably my favorite one.
TSOM - I know you just wrapped up the video for the second song you plan to release, are you able to hint as to what song has been chosen for that?
Dan - I’m not. Well, maybe I am, but I should probably ask that question but no, I don’t think so. Basically where we are at right now is waiting for the first round of edits to come through. We just wrapped that up on Saturday. I can say that this video, I feel so strongly about. I think it’s going to look really epic. We shot in a bunch of different locations with a bunch of different scenes. We got a really cool spot for the last two days of filming the performance side. Similar to “Desperate Measures” there will be a story line and a performance side. I can’t say enough good things. I really think from the raw footage I’ve seen so far, it’s gonna be really awesome.
TSOM - What does Falling Through April want to accomplish with their music?
Dan - This may be a little bit of a cliché’ response but 100% we really just want to reach as many people as we can. In every way possible, for every member in this band, music has either saved their life or changed their life for the better. I know that music kept me out of a lot of trouble as a kid and it makes me sad to hear that government spending are taking away budgets for music programs in schools. It breaks my heart because music is more than just a passion. It’s more than just a dream. It’s a true love. That goes for all of us. We really just want to reach as many people as we possibly can, in the most positive way possible.
The video for “Desperate Measures” is below