Pop Punk Powerhouses to fill Mac’s Bar

Before the big pop punk Get Stoked show  at Mac’s, Ryan Ykimoff from Midwest Skies and Maybe Next Time’s Matthew Grodus spoke with me about pop punk influences, current sounds and all the small things.

Grand Rapids-based band Midwest Skies has been around since 2009, and are still kicking it strong, with all three original members. James Johnson (guitar and vocals), Ryan Ykimoff (bass and vocals), and Josh Jones (drums), the trio’s common interests later turned the friendship into a band.

Midwest Skies

Midwest Skies

Ykimoff spoke about his early music influences. “Growing up, I listened to a variety of music, ranging from pop punk bands like Sum 41 and Yellowcard to heavier bands like Underoath and August Burns Red,” Ykimoff said.

And it’s similar bands that led Grodus to starting a band with his friends Sam Engelsman(guitar), Riley Aalderink (guitar), Miles Foster (drums), Logan Mooney (bass), Mark Avery (synth/piano). And now, the band is building a brotherly camraderie with fellow Grand Rapids-based band Midwest Skies

maybe next time

Maybe Next Time

“Growing up, I listened to a lot of throwback pop punk artists and that seems to be apparent in our sound,” Grodus said. “Bands like Green Day, Blink 182 and Sum 41 have had a tremendous effect on me.”

While Sum 41 frontman Derick Whibley has been seriously under the weather, early pop punk bands like Yellowcard, Relient K, Motion City Soundtrack and others have been embarking on tenth anniversary tours celebrating their memorable albums.

Something that according to Ykimoff, is pretty impressive.
“I think it’s pretty cool that so many of these bands that we listened to when we were young have had the staying power to be able to embark on these tours and draw big crowds,” Ykimoff said. “It speaks to the influence that they had on so many people. Even after all of that, they continue to make new music and develop as musicians, which as musicians ourselves, is probably even more exciting. It just goes to show that, at the end of the day, it’s really all about the music.”

Not only are familiar faces of the scene like Motion City Soundtrack, Blink 182, Yellowcard, All Time Low, and New Found Glory celebrating their successes, but many are even recording new music.

Music to which an entire generation grew up with, and a genre that is still evolving.

“The meaning of pop punk has definitely changed these days,” Ykimoff said. “Although, I think that for many people, the term will always apply to bands that broke in the early 2000’s. I think it’s a genre that has evolved with new and changing sounds.”

The past few years have brought back a resurgence of energetic, youthful sounds thanks to newer bands trying their hand at pop punk.

“There are a lot of talented musicians with a love for the genre, who will hopefully continue to push the boundaries of what is considered ‘pop punk,’” Ykimoff said. “Right now, bands like Real Friends, Neck Deep, and The Wonder Years have really set the standard for the genre as it’s understood today. It will be interesting to see what comes next.”

Another thing both Grodus and Ykimoff can agree on. “There have been some phenomenal records released these past few years and there have been some amazing tour line-ups that have sparked life back into this genre,” Grodus said.

And just like the industry and sounds evolve, so is Midwest Skies, despite maintaining its original lineup for the past 5 years.

“As far as our connection with pop punk goes, while its certainly where we started as a group, we really want to delve into creating some new and unfamiliar to us while still paying homage to the artists who influenced us,” Ykimoff said.

Maybe Next Time recently had a line-up change. According to Grodus, there are no hard feelings though.

“Logan Mooney has taken over the title as Maybe Next Time’s bassist,” Grodus said. “The Maybe Next Time family just became a little bigger.”

Join in on the family, and grab your buddies and a few cheap PBR’s and head on over to Mac’s tonight for a throwback of a good time and great music.

“We’re very excited for our upcoming show on Thursday,” Ykimoff said. “We’re good friends with a couple bands on the bill. I think fans can expect a very upbeat, positive show. There’s a lot of love between the bands and that always makes for an awesome time. It’s a great opportunity to get a look at some solid bands in the scene.”

And if you’re super stoked about the bands on the bill for this show ( Get Stoked, Backslashes & Bad Ideas, Midwest Skies, Maybe Next Time, Other States), then stay tuned for even more  favorites like You Blew It!, Have Mercy, New Found Glory, and Bayside coming up in the Fusion Shows calendar.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for this all-ages show at Mac’s Bar. Tickets start at $8. For more information, visit www.fusionshows.com