Interview: Hit The Lights at Slam Dunk Festival

Hit The Lights has been making an impact in the pop-punk scene since 2003. Their latest EP—Just to Get Through to You—featured new, acoustic versions of tracks from Summer Bones and Skip School, Start Fights, alongside a brand new release ‘Lighthouse’. We caught up with vocalist Nick Thompson at Slam Dunk North to talk all things Just to Get Through to You, touring, and what the future holds for Hit The Lights.

CelebMix: Hit The Lights has been around since 2003, and your music has obviously been really influential in developing the pop-punk scene into what it is today. But for people who are new to your band, how would you describe your sound?

NT: I’d say we’re heavy pop. We love big riffs and pop music, and we’re all big 80s metal fans so I think that all comes through.

CelebMix: This will be your fifth time playing Slam Dunk. What is it about the festival that keeps bringing you back?

NT: This is the best festival we’ve ever done pretty much, especially overseas. It’s fun to do little tours here and there but the crowds here are always the best. We get to see all of our friends who are always over, and the after parties are insane. I’m happy that we only have three days otherwise I’d probably just die.

CelebMix: This year’s Key Club Stage lineup is a massive throwback to early the millennial pop-punk scene. Is there anyone you’re excited to check out today?

NT: I’m excited for Set Your Goals, stoked to see those guys. Everyone on our stage is awesome. I’m also looking forward to checking out Norma Jean, big fan of them. I don’t know, I’m just going to be walking around all day checking out bands. And we play earlier too which is nice because usually we never have time to hang afterwards, so that’s going to be great.

CelebMix: Earlier this year you released an acoustic EP Just to Get Through to You. What made you decide to go down the acoustic route?

NT: We’d been off the road for a while and we were getting ready to go out on the Pure Noise Tour and we just though it’d be nice to have something to record, something to give to the fans. So we started out just doing some acoustic versions of songs from our latest record Summer Bones, and we were like “well, why stop there, let’s just take something from our other records too” and I just thought it was something the fans would really appreciate. They always like acoustic stuff, and it’s nothing too crazy and just something to hold people over until we do our new record. It made sense.

CelebMix: How easy was it to translate older tracks like ‘Save Your Breath’ and ‘Drop The Girl’ to an acoustic EP?

NT: It actually wasn’t that hard. A lot of our songs start out written on an acoustic guitar so it’s really just trying to make them interesting and not a direct copy of the song just acoustically. That was the real challenge, I think I succeeded in most of them but some are just acoustic versions.

CelebMix: You also released a brand new track—‘Lighthouse’—which has been described as “a much different HTL track.” What can you tell us about the inspiration for that track?

NT: It’s basically a love song written on an acoustic guitar, something that we really haven’t done before. Now that we’ve been a band for so long—I’m 32 years old—I figured I can write a love song and be okay with that, and just have it be what it is. I love it, it’s one of my favourite songs.

CelebMix: You just finished up the Pure Noise Records Tour a couple of weeks ago. How was that for you?

NT: It was awesome! I love Seaway, so they were great just to hang out with. Can’t Swim was with us as well, a sick band. Boston Manor wasn’t able to make it out unfortunately so I’ll never know what they’re like to tour with. But yeah, it was fun! It ended on a good note too, we all ended the shows in Ohio.

CelebMix: What do you listen to on the road?

NT: We listen to lots of stuff, pretty much everything. I’d say anything from Deaf Tones to Michael Jackson, to Comeback Kid, to everything—we listen to everything. I can’t do favourite bands anymore, there are too many bands I love! I used to be able to answer that question really easily when I was younger and now it’s like, I don’t know. I love so many bands that I don’t know.

CelebMix: Are there any new bands you think we should be watching out for?

NT: That’s a good question. Well, Seaway has put out a great record called Colour Blind that I really like. They definitely took it back to that millennial pop-punk drive through records era, which I’ll always be a fan of because I grew up with that.

CelebMix: Finally, what does the rest of 2016 hold for Hit The Lights?

NT: We’re gonna go home, write for our new record, and we’ve got some dates in the Fall with a really awesome band that I can’t announce yet but it’ll be really good, it’ll be fun!

Check out Hit the Lights’ latest release ‘Lighthouse’ below!

Written by Faith Ridler

Faith Ridler is a UK based student, music journalist, and twenty one pilots aficionado. Follow her on Twitter @FaithLRidler!