Technically, it’s a new album, but that’s not how A Skylit Drive singer Michael “Jag” Jagmin views his California-bred band’s latest, Rise: Ascension.
“I personally look at it as more of an exploration for us,” he says.
Rise: Ascension, due Jan. 6 on Tragic Hero Records, is a track-by-track acoustic reinterpretation of A Skylit Drive’s fourth studio album, 2013’s Rise.
The seeds for the new project were effectively planted around May 2014. Looking to “break down the already broken-down acoustic versions” of the Rise songs they’d been working on, recalls Jagmin, he and guitarist Nick Miller strapped on acoustics in a Cleveland studio and filmed videos for the tunes “Rise” and “Save Me Tragedy.”
Pleased with the results and fan reactions to the videos, the Warped Tour veterans subsequently decided to challenge themselves and rework all of Rise in acoustic fashion.
“When faced with acoustic-style songs,” Jagmin says, “you’re all of a sudden not able to hide behind distortion and all the ‘tricks’ that work when doing a full rock song. You really get down to the core of your capabilities, and there’s no hiding what comes out.”
In stripping things down for Rise: Ascension, A Skylit Drive actually broadened its sound, adding piano and cello, among other instruments. Jagmin credits producer Jim Wirt for helping the band make the acoustic transition.
“We’re used to what we know, and this at first was completely unknown to us,” admits Jagmin. “Jim has a great natural ear for music, and seeing as we had never crossed into acoustic territory before, it was nice to have someone there who understood it very well.”
According to Jagmin, he doesn’t think A Skylit Drive will tour in support of Rise: Ascension. A top priority for the band is finding replacements for two recently departed members: bassist Brian White and drummer Corey La Quay. Regarding that subject, Jagmin says ASD is “extremely confident in what we’ve come across in our search. This separation has given us the opportunity to expand and improve where we felt we lacked before.”
— By Chris M. Junior
Nick Miller (left) and Michael Jagmin perform an acoustic version of “Save Me Tragedy.”