By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
By Gina Tron
By Jon Solomon
By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
July 13 is the first day off for Breathe Carolina bandmates Kyle Evans and David Schmitt since they hopped aboard the pop-punk juggernaut known as the Warped Tour, and they're determined to enjoy it. So they've headed to Delaware's Dewey Beach for an afternoon of Jet-Skiing, little knowing that their joyful excursion is about to go terribly awry.
"I've ridden a few times before, but this is David's first time riding a Jet Ski," Evans says by phone a few minutes after returning to dry land; Schmitt is still on the water. When asked if there've been any injuries thus far, Evans laughs. "Not yet," he says. "Just mobbin' it hard. It's fun."
For him, anyway. A few minutes later, Evans is in mid-anecdote when a commotion sounds in the background. Suddenly, he declares, "Oh, my God! What happened, brother?"
The next voice belongs to Schmitt. "I fell off it, and I fell into the water, and the Jet Ski smacked me in the fucking face," he mutters.
"David! Oh, my God!" Evans says, before offering up a description of his bandmate's wound: "David's head is bleeding like crazy! Right after you asked me about getting hurt Jet-Skiing. God, Dave!"
Over the next few minutes, Evans vacillates between amusement at the absurdity of the situation ("Dude, where's the camera at?") and concern for his friend ("Damn, dude. I'm sorry, brother"). Schmitt subsequently departs to clean himself up, only to return a few minutes later needing the phone; Evans is using Schmitt's, having left his on the bus. The reason? Breathe Carolina's driver is insisting that a doctor examine the still-seeping gash — it's on his forehead, above an eyebrow — and Schmitt's got to let his mom know. "I don't feel bad," he insists. "I'm gonna be fine, but they want me to check it out."
As for Evans, he switches phones and stays behind after being reassured that the trip to the urgent-care ward is merely precautionary — which it turns out to be when Schmitt is given a clean bill of health. The interview, like the Warped Tour, must go on. Besides, he's accustomed to unexpected developments. After all, Breathe Carolina's career to date has been a series of them.
A Glenwood Springs native who did most of his growing up in Littleton, Evans sang in his middle-school choir and listened to hip-hop at home before discovering New Found Glory, the Starting Line and other outfits that inspired him to make harder music on an extracurricular basis. He played with several groups while attending Chatfield High School, including Rivendale, and at a battle-of-the-bands contest sponsored by GrayMusic, a studio in Broomfield, he met Schmitt, an Arvada High student appearing with an act of his own, As the Flood Waters Rose. "I went up to him and said, 'Dude, I love your band. I just wanted to tell you,'" Evans remembers. "And they came and watched our set later, and I watched theirs, and we just kind of became friends after that."
Eventually, the two decided to share a house, and one day, Schmitt invited Evans to scream along with "Put Some Clothes On," a track he'd made on his computer. Evans's rough vocalizing and the tune's electro-dance feel made for an unusual combination, and he remembers thinking, "I wonder if we really can do this. If this could really be something." Shortly thereafter, he got confirmation. "Some friends were over, and one of them was like, 'I want to hear your song. I want to hear your song,'" he recalls. "They put it on downstairs...and they were, like, dancing in our living room. And the next song came on, and everybody cheered for it. And I stopped on the stairs and sat down and was like, 'What was that? What was that about?' People were singing the words, and I thought, 'That's kind of weird.'"
Inspired, Evans and Schmitt started posting songs on MySpace, and the online response mirrored the one they'd received in person. "We hit over 700 plays the first day, and we were pumped on that," Evans says. "And the next day, we had over 1,000, and it kept growing. Every new song just kept getting bigger and bigger." The buzz attracted a sizable throng to Breathe Carolina's first gig, at an all-ages venue in Centennial called LIFEspot, and when attendance escalated with each appearance, they began to realize they had the potential to reach beyond the local teen crowd.
Problem is, they didn't know how to go about it. For instance, they were excited when Eric Rushing of the Artery Foundation expressed interest in managing them, but less so at the prospect of sharing proceeds with him. It took a pep talk from Brooks Betts, a member of Mayday Parade, to convince them it would be worthwhile. "He really helped us become comfortable with the idea of having to pay somebody to do that," Evans maintains. "That was a hard step to take at first. We were barely able to pay ourselves. We were surviving off shows we were playing once every two weeks. Going from that to 'We've got to pay a whole other person? Do we really have to do that?' That was kind of different."
Luckily, the investment paid off. With the assistance of Rushing and agent David Galea, they quickly secured a one-album deal with Rise Records. The resulting release, 2008's It's Classy, Not Classic, featured "Birds and the Bees," "Gossip" and a slew of other tracks that stood out from the standard-issue, guitar-driven pop-punk that continues to clog the marketplace, but not in a way that put off fans of the genre. This balancing act struck a chord with the folks at Fearless Records, who quickly snapped up the duo and gave them a high-profile platform: a slot on the mega-selling Punk Goes Pop Volume 2 compilation, which showcases their disco-tastic cover of Miley Cyrus's "See You Again" alongside ditties from the likes of Alesana, Escape the Fate and A Day to Remember.
Since the Warped Tour got under way, the Carolinians have gotten to know the Remember crew, as well as plenty of others. For instance, Evans recently engaged in a post-show round of Cornhole — a beanbag game — with El Hefe from NOFX and Underoath's Grant Brandell, and their regular party pals include members of VersaEmerge, A Skylit Drive, Millionaires and brokeNCYDE, plus Coloradans such as Chain Gang of 1974's Kam Mohager and The Axe That Chopped the Cherry Tree's Adam Halferty, currently backing 3OH!3. Another connection to 3OH!3: Breathe Carolina recorded several tracks for their forthcoming Fearless debut, Hello Fascination, with producer Matt Squire, who oversaw the Boulder mock-crunkster's breakout album, Want. In Evans's opinion, Fascination is "way more eclectic, way more broad" than Classic. "Our horizons are way more spread out, our influences are way bigger," with some cuts going in a darker direction and others exhibiting "more of a Daft Punk feel."
Going too far along such routes could potentially alienate the very demographic that's put Breathe Carolina on the map, but Evans isn't concerned. As he puts it, "Doing something different is nothing to be afraid of."
Unless you're talking about Jet-Skiing.
Visit blogs.westword.com/backbeat for more of our interview with Breathe Carolina's Kyle Evans.