A Page Unturned is a band of the Internet, literally: Yoshihiro Imae (guitar & keyboard) found Damon Porras (vocals & bass) on Craigslist in 2017 and a few months later they found Ryan Sebold (drums) on bandmix.com. Although they haven’t been together long, they’ve already released an EP and even a couple of singles, like their most recent one, “Reflection.” I got the chance to talk to the boys about where the band’s name came from, what the story behind “Reflection” is, what their music industry-related goals are and so much more. Keep reading to see what they had to say!
For those who haven’t heard of y’all, can you give us a brief history of the band and how you guys came together?
Ryan: Yoshi moved out here from Japan in 2016 as a last effort to pursue music as a career. He found Damon about a year later on Craigslist while searching for bands. They started working together and writing demos for a few months in 2017 while looking for more band members. I found them on bandmix.com and contacted them in July or August of 2017, then drove out to Damon’s house in Upland a few days later for an audition. Once I was in the band we all started writing together, releasing our first music video for our debut single “California” in early March and our first self-titled EP two weeks later. We immediately started playing shows around LA, our first one being round one of Battle for Vans Warped Tour. We won that round so we were pretty stoked. We continued to play shows and create a fan base, then were back in the studio by October of 2018. We recorded two new singles that came out later that year, and were back in the studio in December to record two more. Those will be released on January 27th and February 10th.
Yoshihiro: Hey! We’re a pop punk band, A Page Unturned from Los Angeles. In April of 2017, singer/bassist Damon and guitarist Yoshi met. In the early months, we began to create demos to appeal to like-minded musicians hoping to find key members, such as a drummer, to complete the band. In August of 2017, we met drummer Ryan Sebold, completing the original lineup. On March 2018, we issued their first self-titled EP and 2 singles in winter. The single “The Hangover” was added to official Spotify playlist and we’re now planning to go touring in California and outside of the US.
Damon: A special thanks to Craigslist and Bandmix.com
I’m totally intrigued by the name A Page Unturned. Where did it come from?
Ryan: All you Damon.
Yoshihiro: Damon hit upon the name after discussing it for a few months. The name seemed to include a positive message for me. There are still many unturned pages in our life even if everything’s broken, it means hope is never gone. I wanna express a positive side of our life through our music as much as possible, so it is perfect concept for my life too.
Damon: Yoshihiro and I were trying to come up with names for hours one day and “a page unturned” just popped in my head. I remember we both had a different perspective on what the name meant. I had in mind the idea of “judging a book by its cover” and leaving something or someone behind without learning more and maybe missing out on something great. Yoshihiro has a more positive perspective as I have more of a darker perspective on things and I think that “Yin and Yang” dynamic plays a really cool role for our songwriting.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. So how would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you produce?
Ryan: We write fast, fun, melodic music that you can rock out to. I think most people can relate to the lyrics and meaning behind our songs.
Yoshihiro: Our sound is energetic and melodic while creating a new exciting sound of our own.
Damon: Expressive, energetic and even when we write something dark I think there something always uplifting about it.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences as a band?
Ryan: Too many to name. Personally, The Used, Blink-182, New Found Glory, Yellowcard.
Yoshihiro: All of us have different backgrounds. I listened to and played jazz music when I was a junior high school student and listened to R&B in high school. So in my youthful days, there was no rock music. It’s very unique as a rock guitarist but Green Day, New Found Glory and Jimmy Eat World led me to this style in my early 20s. Such great bands still influence me a lot.
Damon: A lot when it comes to melody, song structure and lyrics. Personally, I listen to all kinds of different music, like John Mayer, Augustana, Oasis, Green Day, Blink 182, Queen, Avicii, Genesis, and the new age pop punk scene, like As It Is and The Story So Far. I have an open mind, and when I hear something unique, I like to learn from it and sort of ask why something is so appealing.
You guys just released your single, “Reflection.” What’s the story behind that song?
Ryan: Damon was messing around and started playing the bass line. I thought it sounded cool so I started playing a tom groove over it. It sounded rad so Damon showed Yoshi what he had in mind for guitar then Yoshi started playing an arpeggio over it. Damon started singing some freestyle lyrics, and we just went from there. We wrote the song in about 15 minutes, then spent the next 4-5 hours working on it. It’s definitely a different direction for us, it’s a darker song and my favorite song we have ever written. It shows a more serious side to us. It was dope cause we didn’t really try to make it a punk song or try to make it sound like “us”. We just did whatever we wanted, and it turned out awesome.
Yoshihiro: Damon got some inspiration for the song while rehearsing in a studio. He asked Ryan and me to follow his idea, and the song was made in 10 minutes or so.
Damon: I don’t know why but sometimes I will get a random idea for a song right when we get to rehearsal, and when I present it to them, they can clearly understand it and build off of it to create something great. This was the first time it ever happened. I had this idea in my head for a bass line and guitar part. I also had this lyric in my head, “I can see my own reflection but it doesn’t stare back at me,” so it struck me as something quite dark. I played the bass part out to Ryan without really explaining all that much other than it having a Blink 182 vibe, and he made this really cool intricate drum part that was spot on to what I was thinking. It really gave the song a strong foundation and an almost “industrial” sound. Then I shared the guitar melody to Yoshi that I had in mind, and he just added more elements to it. We worked out the arrangement, and I worked out the vocal over time. For the lyrics, I just built off that one lyric I had, and I talked about going through my depression. It’s a very honest song, and I think the song was an important step for us to expand our themes and be able to write about darker situations.
What was your writing process like for this song? Do you guys like to keep the writing done in-house or do you like to collaborate with others?
Ryan: “Reflection” was written as a jam like I said previously. We have never collaborated with any other artists or had anyone produce anything for us. Everything we put out is written completely by us collectively.
Yoshihiro: We kept improving the song after the first session. On the first day we jammed it, I hesitated to keep working on the song because the song was different from the other songs. I didn’t know how people would react. I spoke of my concerns honestly to Damon and Ryan after rehearsing. But we tried and improved the song a lot, multiple times. The song became greater than I had expected. The process was great to get to know each other more, and it made me happier cause I understood we also had the same tastes for writing.
Damon: Always in-house. We were writing that song up until the last day of recording. It was almost never going to be recorded but luckily it became something really cool and interesting.
What was the recording process like? How long did it take for the final version to come together from start to finish?
Ryan: Recording was a bitch and a half just cause we were very specific in what sound we were going for. The song is very drum and bass driven so we spent a lot of time messing with tones and different drums to get what we wanted. I think I spent almost 8 hours just recording the drums for that song, whereas “The Hangover” I knocked out in two or three takes. Yoshi did over 100 takes on the guitar tracks and Damon worked on the vocals for about two weeks straight. We were very indecisive on the end result, making mixing very challenging. We must of had our engineer Marc McClusky send us seven or eight different revisions until we were satisfied. We’re very fortunate to have such a patient and talented guy mixing our tunes. Marc, you rock man.
Yoshihiro: It’s tough. It took a very long time, as usual. It took a month this time. I almost gave up the recording cause some arpeggios were incredible difficult to record perfectly. I focused on it too much and stopped recording twice due to my health condition at the time. I got to know my current skills as a guitarist. I learned a lot from the recording.
Damon: A month and a half for the recording process to be finished. There were many issues that I had to fix in the recordings. We had to do a lot of doing things over and over again to just try and make it work. There was also a lot of experimenting with different things. It was the most challenging song to record to date.
Were there any major changes made to the song once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Ryan: Not really, mostly just messing with different tones and drum sounds. No changes were made to the structure of the song itself.
Yoshihiro: I totally understood the recording process, and we have great sound engineers recording and mixing our music. So all of my concerns when it came to tone disappeared after completing the 1st recording. Once I knew I could trust them and not worry about the sound directly, I could focus on the process more without worrying.
Damon: Nothing major, just small experimenting. We had an idea of the overall sound, and thanks to our engineers we achieved what we wanted to hear.
You guys are still new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks you aim to reach in the next couple of years?
Ryan: Being able to call this my “job” is the overall goal. Touring the world and playing drums for the rest of my life has been my dream for a long time now. If I can do that and support a family (eventually) I’ll be happy.
Yoshihiro: Touring the US. It’s one of my dreams, and I think we will get the opportunity after achieving a big thing like releasing a bunch of songs and getting fans all over the states. That would be a great benchmark.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd so what is something you nerd out about?
Ryan: I nerd out over drums all the time. Besides that I love The Lord Of The Rings. Frodo is my dawg.
Yoshihiro: How I am alive here. I wanna cheer everyone up whenever, and I understand I have a lot of chances to do that in life after moving to US in 2016. I have a Japanese podcast, and I still work on other projects on the side. I want to try all of my options even though it takes a long time, but I believe the challenging spirit helps me a lot to keep writing great songs.
Damon: I’m currently intrigued by new stuff I’m experimenting with when it comes to my songwriting. Other than that, what a year it has been to be a Spiderman fan! This year is going to be just as great. Super excited for Avengers: Endgame and Spiderman Far from Home! Also, I love Chelsea F.C. and the Anaheim Ducks, even though their seasons aren’t looking too good.