An Interview With The Promising Alt-Rock Group, FLIGHTS OVER PHOENIX!
Posted On 24 Aug 2015
Keith Longo, Chris Santillo and Mark McKee make up the band, Flights Over Phoenix.
After meeting each other in Los Angeles on Craigslist, the three musicians are very quickly making a name for themselves in the City of Angels. Today, their music is rich in melody, layered in rhythm and deep in emotion.
All Access recently had a chance to catch up with the guys of Flights Over Phoenix and their music, starting the group and more! Enjoy!
How did you three first meet? How did you know that you had enough chemistry to be in a band together?
I originally met Chris through Craigslist, believe it or not. Since moving to LA I had wanted to form a band and was struggling to find the right people. Outside of trying to network and meet people, I had a running ad for guitar and keyboard players. Craiglist being what it is, I got some interesting responses to say the least! But Chris thankfully found one of the ads and I had a good feeling about him right away. When we met up I knew he was the right guy.
I “met” Mark shorty after in a similar situation. I say “met” loosely as we also first contacted each other on some musician’s website. We can’t remember who messaged who first, I’m sure I probably messaged him. But long story short we played email/phone tag for about 6 months before meeting up and jamming.
After a few jams with the 3 of us, we had worked through some songs and things felt good. We all had the same goals and a similar mentality so we decided to move forward with what became Flights Over Phoenix.
How did you decide on a name? What other names were you considering?
Band names are hard! You come up with a lot of crap. But, I have always been interested in space and UFO’s and the thought of what else is out there in the universe. I liked how band names like Foo Fighters and Stone Temple Pilots are UFO references but without sounding too Sci-Fi. A lot of people don’t even realize that they are. I’ve also always loved the Phoenix as a mythical creature…There was a mass UFO sighting in Phoenix in the 90’s called the Phoenix Lights. Whether it was real or not, who knows. But, I thought referencing that would be a cool way to use both things, and it didn’t sound terrible. To me at least!
How is the music that Flights Over Phoenix makes different than anything else you’ve each released separately or in other bands?
Just by nature of the music being filtered through each of us, it becomes a combination of what the three of us individually do and like. If I were to write and fully produce a song by myself, it would sound different than if Mark and Chris are in the room and we are bouncing ideas off of each other. You have to have that trust in each person to lift the music to a higher level than any of you could do individually. We work off the idea that Flights’ music and songs are bigger and more important than anything we do individually.
What artists in particular inspire the music of Flights Over Phoenix?
Inspiration can come from anywhere and any song. We all listen to such a wide variety of music, and appreciate certain things about each genre. As a writer, I’ve always loved Phil Collins’ use of rhythm not only on the drums but in his lyrical phrasing and in the way the instruments play off of each other. I also love his note choices. So for me, he’s a big influence. But there are countless that we each have that work their way into the music in one form or another.
How was your residency as LA’s Molly Malones? Did you perform a combination of original songs and covers? What’s been a favorite gig of yours so far?
The Molly shows were great. Up till that point, we hadn’t had too many shows, and most of the ones we had were a stripped-down set up. So it was our first real chance to play a good stage with a full setup. We did all originals. As far as covers, we’ve been trying to find that cover that we can pull out that not many people have done and that we can do something unique with. We’ll find it!
But any of those gigs would probably be my favorite so far. They felt like the beginning of what will hopefully be many more great shows to come.
Congrats on recently releasing your debut EP, “Runaway California”! Can you describe the process of putting it together? How do you think living in California has influenced your sound and really your style in general?
Thanks! It was a hellish process to be honest! But, I think most people who are creating something they are passionate about know what I mean. We wouldn’t change it, but it was definitely a learning process on what we can make better the next time around. We all set high bars for ourselves individually and as a band. That on top of this being our “first impression” to the music world, the pressure to try make things “perfect” was definitely present. At the end of the day, you have to trust that you’ve put your best foot forward and let it go.
As far as living in California, I’d say it has effected the music. Not so much California culture itself, but more the fact that Mark and I both packed up our lives and moved here to pursue our dreams. You definitely see things differently when you take that step and I’m sure it works its way into the music.
I love your mashup of Sam Smith’s “Not The Only One” and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again”. How did you choose to mashup those two songs? Generally, how do you choose what songs to cover?
Glad you like it! We were sitting in our rehearsal space one day and Chris or Mark started playing one of the songs on acoustic and then someone else started humming the other one as a mashup. We thought it’d be a cool mashup video since both songs were a similar mood and tempo, and were still somewhat relevant at the time. If we all like a song and think we can bring something cool or different to what already exists, we will cover it.
Who would you be your ideal touring mate be?
I’d say either The Script or Train. I think our fan bases would be similar, and everything we’ve ever heard about each band is that they are really cool guys. We are fans of their music and I think they’d both be a great fit to tour with!
Tell me about your upcoming show at Hotel Café here in LA?
It’s on Tuesday August 25 at 9:00pm. All of the door proceeds will go to the City Of Hope charity. This will be our first gig at Hotel Cafe as a band, so we’re super excited!
When do you plan on releasing a full-length studio album? Have you already written most of the material for it?
As far as when it will be released, we aren’t really sure. What I can say is we have a lot of songs written and are in the process of recording for it. So it’s definitely in the works.
As a relatively new band, what do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I think the ultimate goal for us would be for people to have a genuine connection to the songs. Anybody who loves music will tell you what songs they love and why. Most of us have had songs that remind us of a great time in our life, or get us through a tough time. If our music could be that for someone, that would be mission accomplished.
Where do you see the band in the next 10 or even 20 years?
We hope to be able to make music as a band for as long as we can. I’d love to be the next U2, doing tours when we are in our 60’s. Who wouldn’t?! But, right now, we are just focused on trying to make great music and we’ll see where that leads us.
What do you think ultimately sets this group apart from others out there today?
I’m sure many other artists do this, so I won’t say this necessarily “sets us apart,” but I will say that we put all importance and energy into the songs themselves. Having great production, or live show, or image, or any of those things is great, but at the core you have to have great songs to have longevity. So, that is definitely where we put most of our focus.
For those of you living in LA, be sure to catch Flights Over Phoenix tomorrow night, August 25th at Hotel Cafe! It’s a City of Hope fundraiser so ticket proceeds go to them. It’s for a great cause and going to be a great show!
Pre-Sale ticket link: https://www.hotelcafe.com/tickets/?s=events_view&id=4142