There is no band in the Virginia music scene that goes “bigger” than Harrisonburg’s alternative rock phenomenon SKYWARD. The band members, who include guitarist Jordan Breeding, keyboardists/vocalists Anna Bryant and Jonathan Huang, bassist Jeremy Hashiguchi, and drummer Caleb Gritsko, met while attending James Madison University. Their instant connection through their love for music and their Christian faith drew them together, and together, they have created epic anthems to shake the heavens. They are currenly on the verge of releasing their sophomore EP Drift, which is set to be released on April 15th, and they hope their songs will inspire and challenge their listeners to make a difference in the world. We spoke with Breeding about the beginnigs of the band, what fans can expect from their upcoming EP, and much more.

What’s the story behind how you met and formed SKYWARD?

Basically we all went to JMU. Jeremy’s church was renting the youth camp Rockbridge for a retreat. He asked Anna to play, and then Anna asked the rest of us. After that, we decided to start a band and found a drummer, and then we started to record inat Erff Studios in Chad Altenberger’s basement. At that time, no one knew the songs I had written except me and Spencer (our old rhythm guitarist).

I’ve noticed that you have had a couple changes in your line-up. Can you comment on your former members and the members you have now?

There have been two times where we had member changes. We had an older drummer back in 2012. After this summer, most of us will be graduating, and we have been trying to decide how to keep the band going. So we decided to stay in Virginia, but our other guitarist was from Nashville. He was doing his own singer/songwriter stuff there, and didn’t want to keep going back in forth. We understood, and we have adapted our sound to him being gone. It gave me the chance to pick up the slack and be a better guitarist. The biggest challenge for me is knowing when to play lead and when to play rhythm.

What is the meaning behind your paper airplane logo?

We were trying to think of logos that have to do with the sky, and everyone does birds so we didn’t want to go that route. We thought a real airplane would be too complex, but we liked the paper airplane idea because it looked cool and it was kinda playful. We write serious songs and take our music very seriously, but it helps ground us to where we think we should be.

In your bio, you say that your band writes “lyrics written to challenge and inspire listeners”. What sort of challenges are you proposing?

I think it comes out in a couple different ways. “Sing It Back” was inspired by William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying. The challenge for that song is understanding the brokeness of certain people and trying to empathize with them.We take our faith very seriously, but we don’t like to say we are a Christian band. We are just Christians in a band, but our faith does inspire some of the songs that we write. “Drag”, which is the last song on the EP, was about me dealing with the death of a family friend as well as thoughts about graduation. For me it felt like the obstacles in my life were to help better me, and there is hope that things will work out for the good.

Why did you choose to record Drift at Spotlight Sound Studio in Alpharetta, GA?

Before we recorded our EP Voyages, the owner of the studio found some of our demos online, and cut us a deal. We ended up bonding with him really well, and we really liked the process of working with him. He pushed us to make our songs even better, but we felt like we didn’t use him to our full potential. We rushed through the songs and didn’t have as much money. So it was an obvious choice to go with him again since he is already familiar with our band and what we are trying to do with it.

Is there any song in particular on your record that is very personal to you or that you enjoy playing most?

“Drag” is definitely the most personal lyrically due to what I was dealing with at the time when I wrote it. Also, it spawned organically. During a technical difficulty at one of our shows, I was playing around on my guitar, and came up with the riff for it. It’s definitely the most epic song and the most fun to play. It’s got a good feel to it.


Tell me about One Child Matters and your band’s connection with this organization.

We heard about it originally through a band called THE BEAUTIFUL REFRAIN. One Child Matters is an organization that partners with bands, and they sponsor children in third world countries. Two of us support a kid, and my kid’s name is John. He sends me goofy letters sometimes. They provide food, clothing, medical assistance, shelter, and much more. They even help trafficked children. We help them out by supporting the program through sponsorships and promoting the organization at shows. They give us five to 10 profiles of their kids for shows, and we work an announcement about it into every set because it’s very close to our hearts, and we want to give back. We also offer all of our CDs and shirts if someone makes an initial down payment for a kid.

Who are some of your favorite local bands and musicians that inspire you?

One band we love is PORT HARBOR. They remind us a lot of us. They are a great up and coming band from Harrisonburg, and we will be playing some shows with them soon. Another great band is SWELL DAZE. We played a battle of the bands with them last summer, and they got first and we got third. They are good friends, and we also have a show with them in April

For more updates on SKYWARD, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and check out their EP Drift on Soundcloud, which will be released on April 15th on Bandcamp.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Fairfax, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with his girlfriend Alex.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *