Growing up in Fort Worth’s Arlington Heights neighborhood in the late 1990s, Sky Eats Airplane guitarist and co-songwriter Lee Duck got into music by collaborating with childhood friends Dan Hunter and singer Brack Cantrell — the name of their band was propheticallly titled Our First Fall.
Today, Hunter’s sunshine-pop solo project PlayRadioPlay is signed to Def Jam/Island Records and is touring the country as part of the Vans Warped Tour — and Duck is itching for the chance to follow his friend into the national spotlight. He and the rest of Sky Eats Airplane — guitarist Zack Ordway, frontman Jerry Roush, drummer Kenny Schick, and bassist Jon Brickson — may get their wish sooner rather than later. Duck’s crew is currently in negotiations with a major label (he won’t say who) and will hit about 60 cities in a few weeks as part of a national tour. There’s also a plan to write some new material for a winter record — at some point. “We really want to write new material,” Duck said, “but we just don’t have time.”
Like PlayRadioPlay and several other local bands that have recently signed big-time recording contracts — including The Rocket Summer (with Def Jam/Island Records) and Plano’s The Sickest Kids (Universal Records) — Sky Eats Airplane got its start at The Door, Fort Worth’s all-ages, non-alcoholic club in the Stockyards. When another Door favorite, In Theory, began to break up a couple of months ago and Sky Eats Airplane’s original singer Cantrell had moved on, Duck recruited former In Theory bandmates Ordway, Schick, and Brickson. Singer Roush arrived from New York City as the result of an international audition Duck set up via MySpace. He sent out existing Sky Eats Airplane tracks for hopefuls to sing and/or ascribe their own lyrics to. More than a thousand submissions came in, including Roush’s. “We fell in love with him,” Duck said. “He broke up with his girlfriend to move down here and do the band thing.”
Roush arrived in town two days before the band’s first official gig as the new Sky Eats Airplane. “But we pulled it off,” Duck says. “And four days after that, we went into the studio to record a demo, and after that, we went to Florida for a tour.” The band thing of which Duck speaks is heavy metal laced with electronica. The songwriting process, as you can imagine, takes a while. “We want to be original,” he said. “We put as much detail and thought [into the process] as possible.” Most of the songs begin as amorphous ideas generated by Ordway, who records everything he does and e-mails the best parts to Duck, who then plugs everything into his computer. Duck and Ordway, Brickson said, “go around and around — the rest of us don’t learn the song until we play it.” Duck and Roush split lyric-writing duties, which Duck feels “helps us go for a better song, not a better ego.
“A lot of our songs are about pursuing passion,” he continued. “Only one or two are about a relationship. The rest are about provocative topics … like run-ins with hobos or about how isolation can be a good thing.” The broad result, he said, is capable of appealing to every kind of listener. “Plus,” he said, “when we collectively like our music, it’s a success.” Even though they’re still rather new at the whole “band thing,” Duck and crew haven’t had many problems with the success thing. The band regularly plays to packed houses, and sales of songs (via iTunes) and merchandise have proven to be two steady sources of revenue. The band is self-supporting — none of the members has a day job. A major-label deal, Brickson said, will simply give the band added security. Visit MySpace.com/SkyEatsAirplane.
Sky Eats Airplane
Fri, Aug 10, w/Memphis May Fire at The Door, 2521 Rodeo Plaza, FW. $10. 817-624-6736.