“Expect maybe a little of the unexpected,” begins The Upset Victory’s guitarist Stephen Campbell, “I think if you like catchy music with a little bit of intrigue behind it, I think you’d really like our band.” Expecting the unexpected is the best mentality to have if you’re looking to dive into new music, but perhaps no more true than when you dive into The Upset Victory’s debut, Life Like an Anchor. The album goes from having some Panic! At the Disco elements, to somewhere closer to The Cab, and then blends it all together with a few mid-tempo songs in between it all.
Making a dynamic and intriguing record was always the goal for the band. There was a discussion with their producer early on about not being afraid to get weird and take chances on the record. This is The Upset Victory’s debut album, and while there has been music released before, you only get one debut album. You need to take your shot and make yourselves stand out from the crowd of bands around you. Stephen specifically mentions the song “Burned,” where the opening whistle of the song actually started out as a guitar riff. “We weren’t close-minded to the idea that it always has to be two guitars, drum, bass, and singer,” Campbell states, “we went in intentionally with trying to get outside the box and out of our comfort zone.”
Things haven’t always been that way for The Upset Victory. There have been times where they had a higher sense-of-urgency and more quickness to put out a new EP, or even to get some demos done. This is something that perhaps a lot of bands have done, as you sometimes just want new music out or to be able to have demos that you can go back to. With Life Like an Anchor, however, it was the opposite. There was a trip to Florida where the band, their producer, and their engineer all sat in a room with an acoustic guitar and just worked on the songs. Campbell explains that they focused on “what is the message, what are the themes, what do we want to write about it?” This helped the group zero in on the vocals and melody of the tracks, and really figure out what makes them good. The band then took a separate trip down to Florida roughly four months later to do the actual recording of the album. “That two-full process really helped us zero in on the songwriting,” the guitarist mentions.
The third component that helped The Upset Victory make their debut album so dynamic and coherent, is that they took the tracks day-by-day. Whereas the more traditional approach might be to spend time knocking out all of the drums for the album, then the guitars, then the vocals, and so on…that was not the case with Life Like an Anchor. This process allowed them, as Campbell mentions, “the ability to just focus in on one song and not be distracted by anything else, other than making that one song the best it could possibly be.” The fourth component? That willingness to not be “weird’ and to move things around, put things in the song, and do whatever it takes to make the song good. There are moments of piano, synth, keys, twelve string guitars, and even mandolin. “Everything including the kitchen sink,” Campbell states regarding what was on the table for their debut album, “we were not close-minded, and we like all different kinds of music…being open-minded really helped us out a lot.”
Perhaps what’s so spectacular and impressive about them is that they have already accomplished so much as a band, before even releasing their debut album. They have become a staple in the local music scene of Cincinnati, Ohio – which is home to groups like Walk the Moon, the National, fifty percent of 98 Degrees (Nick and Drew Lachey), as well as the vastly underrated and underappreciated Foxy Shazam. The Upset Victory were nominated for a few categories at the 2017 Cincinnati Entertainment Awards; such as, “Best Live Act,” “Artist of the Year,” and “Best Rock Band.” Not to mention, they also got to play the 2017 edition of the annual Bunbury Music Festival in their hometown of Cincinnati, where 30 Seconds to Mars, Muse, and Wiz Khalifa also performed.
It would be normal for a band to take some time to themselves after putting out their debut album and achieving some of these goals. “Believe it or not,” Campbell begins, “we’re actually writing again.” Their guitar player, Frank Hammonds, has a studio in his home, where the band is currently in pre-production for their next release. 2017 was certainly a big year for The Upset Victory, but with new music potentially on the way and goals for their first European tour, 2018 could be astronomical for this energetic and unique act.