Interview with The Higher

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Seth Trotter from The Higher recently. Seth is the lead vocalist of the pop-rock band, and they are currently based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. The Higher have recently released their newest single “Free Ride”, that is on their New EP Elvis in Wonderland, set to be released in October 14, 2022.

Seth Trotter: Hey Megan, how’s it going?

Megan: Good. How are you? Sorry, I have some technical issues. <laugh>

Seth Trotter: You’re fine. I’m trying to figure out how to change it from my picture to me. Let’s see. Start video. There we go.

Megan: Awesome.

Seth Trotter: Can make it happen.

Megan: We did it. <laugh>

Seth Trotter: How you doing today, Megan?

Megan: I’m good. Thank you. How are you?

Seth Trotter: Oh, I’m doing great.

Megan: Are you excited? You have this new EP about to drop? Is it exciting?

Seth Trotter: I could not be more excited. We, uh, it, it feels like a long time coming since we recorded these songs and started the demos of, and process of this way back in COVID. So, it feels like full circle and it’s crazy that all of it is happening right now and, so quickly. So that’s super exciting.

Megan: That’s super exciting. I was actually really listening to it and I honestly loved every song. And I think for me, the best part is that you guys have this kind of unique sound and, don’t hate me, but it almost brought me back to high school emo, but then also with a twist of like a Relient K sound, but then each song was so different and I loved that.

Seth Trotter: Well, I love the Relient K reference that you made. I love Matt with all my heart and he is a good guy and a really great band that I definitely listened to growing up, we wanted to stay true to the sound that The Higher had before, but then also just find a way to kind of modernize it and bring it into the kind of music that we’re listening to now. So, like you said, it’s kind of interesting with this EP the five songs that we chose out of the 10 or so that we had decided on, these five songs are all kind of different, but at the same time, they’re kind of cohesive in this, in The Higher sound, but maybe not in the same exact feel for each song. You know, we have a more rock song. We have a more pop song. We have a more dark song. We have more of a light love song. You know, we have just a little bit of everything.

Megan: And that, I think that’s what made that EP so easy to listen to and so captivating.  I can listen to music at work; so, I was actually listening to it at work and I didn’t realize that it kept playing through and through and what made it so nice is it was so good. The best part is that you get those albums and sometimes that sound, it changes, but it doesn’t change enough that you realize you’re listening to a different song. It was enough of a difference and a big enough difference that you can tell that it was all part of one cohesive album, but so different that the sound didn’t make you feel like it was one giant song.

Seth Trotter: Yes. And that’s really what we were going for. We were kind of going to, in the sense, taste the water with all the sounds that the hire can kind of make and just kind of make sure that with this EP, since it’s only five songs has a song for all Higher fans, you know, uh, young, old, new, old, you know what I mean? All that kind of stuff. Yes.

Megan: You mentioned that you also tailored it towards more of the music you’re listening to now. Can I ask who are some of those influences that you’re listening to currently?

Seth Trotter: Well, I mean, for me, I would say that we all have very different influences because with The Higher, it’s very collaborative. Myself and Reggie are the main guys performing and touring, but for the writing process, we also had our bass player and our guitar player, Tom influencing and writing with us. So, we all have very different tastes. I can only really attest to my own. So, I mean, I’m listening to a lot of the 1975. I really liked some of the new machine gun Kelly kind of sound. Personally I listen to a lot of R&B, so I love The Weekend. I listen to a lot of like The Dream and Craig David and people who are more old school R&B artists. So that’s kind of my eclectic taste to go into it. I love the new Demi Lovato.

Megan: Love, love the shirt <laugh>.

Seth Trotter: Yeah. what I really love is, what’s funny with her new stuff is she’s such a great singer and she can do all the R&B trills and stuff like that. But I really think that she found her sound better with this kind of rock sound that she’s going for. And so, I really liked that. And I, I think that with this, with this new album and with all the music coming from The Higher, we want to give people that nostalgic feeling of knowing. Hey, this is The Higher, this sounds like The Higher, the old Higher, but then we also kind of wanted to give them a little bit of taste of what’s coming new. I’m also a big fan of The Maine and All Time Low and all the bands that we’re more similar to.

Megan: Those are all great artists. Okay. So, you mentioned that everybody helps in the writing process, which is great. I love when artists and bands can do that together. I know one of the songs was based off one of the members girlfriend. So, with the exception of that song, are the other songs based off of experiences that you guys have had in your own personal lives or things you’ve seen, or are they just things that maybe you’ve felt and then incorporated it into a song that way?

Seth Trotter: Yes. so I mean, there’s definitely some songs in there that are, are written about our personal experiences in love and in relationships and stuff like that. But then there’s a couple of songs that are like, the title track “Elvis in Wonderland” is kind of a song about Las Vegas and kind of a song about that feeling you get when you’re getting lost in what we call, the “Elvis in Wonderland experience”, which is when people come to Vegas, you are gambling and you’re playing and you’re kind of getting into the devilry that is Las Vegas and you lose track of the time. And that song is literally just about like, kind of getting lost in Las Vegas, where you are just hoping that you’re going to win some money. You’re also feeling really good because you’re either really intoxicated or having just a great time from the other kinds of things that you can experience here in Vegas. And just kind of losing a grip on reality, because this is kind of a Wonderland to most people. When you come to Las Vegas, you’re kind of coming to escape and it’s a little bit of an escapism song.

Megan: That makes sense. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Vegas. I personally have not been yet.

Seth Trotter: You have to come visit and find out.  We’re playing a festival called When We Were Hungry and it’s the night before the When We Were Young fest. So, we’re trying to catch all of those people that are coming to see all those emo bands that are similar to us from Warped Tour that are doing the WWWY fest. We have a festival called When We Were Hungry and ourselves, Secondhand Serenade, Hello Goodbye, Anarbor, and a bunch of different bands are playing on that one. It’s going to be fun.

Megan: That sounds like a good one. Those are all great bands, but I really enjoy Anarbor out of the list. They also remind me a lot of like my high school emo days, so I love it.

Seth Trotter: Absolutely, we were big fans of their band and I’m stoked because not only are we playing with them for that festival, but we’re doing a tour with them. So, we get to play a little bit more with Anarbor, which good choice I like your selection there.

Megan: Thank you. I also saw you were going on tour with them, which actually leads me into my next question. You’re about to go on tour, how are you preparing for that and how excited are you?

Seth Trotter: We could not be more excited. At first, I thought I was going to be a little bit nervous just because it had been a little while since we had performed these songs, but we just did the So What Festival in Dallas and we’re about to do Furnace Fest and I really feel like these festivals really amplify and get you charged up and ready for the shows. So, I feel like, especially once we practiced again, I was like, oh wow, these songs haven’t left my mind.  For [our album] On Fire, the songs that we are playing, they’re just like riding a bike jumping right back on it. For the new songs, we’re just really excited because we’ve never performed these songs live. And so, for the Anarbor tour and for the one in Vegas, we’re going be playing a lot of songs, including one or two new songs.

Megan: Oh, that’ll be exciting, especially for those new songs. That’s awesome. Is there anything you’re hoping to gain from this tour? Anything you’re hoping to maybe learn or experience and then if so, why?

Seth Trotter: Well, so this isn’t, you know, really a cash grab for us because we’re not really making a lot of money. This is more of a we just miss the music that we miss writing new original songs. I know personally I do a cover band here in Vegas and so it’s just great to be doing songs that are your own and have more meaning behind them. I’m just excited to see all the old bands that we have toured with and played with and the fans we’ve played for over the years and getting a chance to see them again. And then this was just exciting to kind of see what fans do; fans that we can accumulate from the songs now, because you know for us, our band kind of fizzled out and stopped playing shows around the time social media got really cracking. I mean, we were on Facebook, but Facebook was a new thing. We were a MySpace band. So, now at this point, I mean, now we have an Instagram just recently this year and we’re jumping on the Tik-Tok bandwagon. We’re learning how to be a little bit more socially active and just be in contact with our fans and the response so far has been incredible. And so, for me, I’m just excited to make new fans and to get new songs out there.

Megan: That’s awesome. Ugh. You aged me so much when you said MySpace!

Seth Trotter: I feel like, yep. That is how do you say your age without staying your age? Yep. We were a MySpace band <laugh>  So, it’s the way to say my age without saying my age. Hopefully we’ve all aged very well. I haven’t cut the hair yet, so I mean, I still have it.

Megan: No, it looks fantastic.

Seth Trotter: Thank you. <laugh>

Megan: You’re welcome. The nice thing, too, is growing on TikTok and going onto the Instagram, because you’re hitting a whole new age level and a whole new, like, genre of people because it’s so different.

Seth Trotter:  Yeah, a whole different demographic. I mean, it would be like its night and day because most of the people that used to listen to The Higher don’t have Tik-Toks yet. They haven’t jumped quite that far. And most of them, I mean, they have Instagram, but I mean, they’re all grown up adults like me. So, I mean, they have kids which I have and they have lives that are different and changing. And I think this is going to just be nostalgic for them and really great for all those new fans that already are on the Tik Tok bandwagon. Maybe they can show us how to do it.

Megan: <laugh> That’s great. I know you’ve been on tours before, who have been your favorite artists to tour with?

Seth Trotter: Well, I mean, we, we started back in the day touring with some of the greatest bands. I mean, we got to tour with Panic! At The Disco. I mean, they took us out on their very first headlining tour. We’ve gotten to tour with bands like Motion City Soundtrack, The Matches. We’ve gotten to tour with great bands like Anarbor before. And so, this is kind of fun to like bring it back with bands like them. I mean, bands like the Rocket Summer, Silverstein, Emery, and all these bands that we gotten to even see on these festivals, because they’re still out there doing it. I just went and saw Less Than Jake; those are good friends of ours and their band is still amazing. I mean, these are dudes that are older than I am and they’re just still doing it hard. So, I mean, it is fun. I’m excited for it.

Megan: What I love about it too, is being able to go to these shows and these bands that I’ve grown up with I’m coming and seeing them and then all these other people are bringing their kids. So, it’s a whole new generation getting to listen. It’s just like when we grew up, I don’t know if your parents did, but my mom was a huge Journey fan. So here I am listening to Journey. And you know, you have those second generation, third generations and they’re just passing that great music along.

Seth Trotter: Well, also, Journey just has so many hits; hits after hits. I mean, I do the cover band thing and I will tell you; we get more requests for Journey still to this day than almost any other band though. I will say that Journey is really hard to sing. He has got the highest voice!

Megan: <laugh> He does, it’s insane. Have any of these other bands given you guys’ advice or anything that you’ve taken to heart that you still listen to or remind yourself of?

Seth Trotter: I mean just seeing some of the bands that, are still popular today that like the main and all time low and these kinds of bands, I mean these kinds of guys kind of have still paved the way for bands like ours to jump right back into the scene. I mean, really these bands are still doing it big. Panic! at the Disco, all these groups are still making such an influence on the scene today. It kind of lets us feel the affirmation that we can still do it and that the fans are still there and they’re still listening to this style of music. And I really feel like right now, emo is getting this surge of everybody coming back, but I feel like people are missing the band aspect.

I feel like we really, in the last couple of years, got to these single artists and DJs and people who are, even though the music is great. They’re not really putting on the show, the band show and the kind of energy. And I think kids are just ready for that energy again. And I think it’s really being shown with like Machine Gun Kelly and even with like Demi Lovato and people like that. They’re really embracing this rock sound because I think that they miss it. And I think that I missed it too. I feel like that’s why all these bands are getting such great responses from old fans and new fans, because we’re so ready for that energy again, kids are ready for that.

Megan: Yeah. It feels like it’s the emo revival, it’s coming back and I love it.

Seth Trotter: And I mean, it’s crazy to think when I do my cover band stuff, the nineties alternative and rock stuff that we used to listen to is now the classic rock of our era. You know what I mean? It’s funny to think that, you know, those bands that we listen to, like Lit and I don’t even know the bands, the name, but just like all those nineties, the old Blink 182 stuff, that stuff is like classic rock. Now I play that and everybody knows the words and everybody sings along and I feel the nostalgic feeling that people get. They’re like, yeah, I remember these rock bands. So now I feel like rock is coming back and I feel like people are getting a chance to enjoy live music and real instruments again.

Megan: Yeah. I have to agree. Since you’re heading on tour, this might be a kind of an out of the ballpark kind of question. Some people have superstitions, so [for example] some baseball players, as soon as they start doing really well, they stop shaving their beards. Do you have any superstition that you guys do before you go on tour?

Seth Trotter: Yeah, I stop cutting my hair right when we leave on tour. And then I just let it grow another inch or two. I wouldn’t say that we have like a ritual, but before every set, we all like come together and you know, it’s one of those things where we’re all getting pumped up and amped up for the show. But right before the set, we all come together and kind of do like a team huddle, it’s very basketball, nostalgic. I would say we’re sports fans. So, we get in that huddle and we hype ourselves up and get ourselves ready for that explosion on stage. Okay. And I mean, that’s the only ritual or I would say superstition that we have. I mean, for the most part we’re just amped to play. That’s a good one. Excited.

Megan:  It’s a good one. That’s cool. I have a couple more questions and then if you have anything for me, but how did you get into music and then how did you guys come together as a band?

Seth Trotter: So, I mean, I can speak personally. I mean, I was, I was singing out of the womb pretty much what mom says; I was matching pitch, she said at a very early age. And so, she kind of influenced me to get into choir and things like that. And I was very theater oriented. I liked to perform and I liked getting a rise out of people. And that’s where I met our bass player, Jason Centeno. He was two years ahead of me in school, but we were in the same choir class. And so, he was like, hey man, I just started a band. And right now, I’m the singer, but I don’t really feel confident being the lead singer. I was kind of hoping more to do backups. I was actually only playing guitar at the time, but he was like, “I think I’m going to take up the bass because we need a bass player”. We have three guitarists and a drummer. And so, I was like, all right, I came into the band and I just took up doing the lead vocals. And once we kind of had a four piece and I was still playing guitar. We were like, yeah, let’s get Seth off a guitar and only singing. For a good reason, I promise you.

We had a rival band in our school who was fronted by our old guitarist, Tom Oaks, he was singing and playing guitar and he joined our band. And once that happened, I would say magic happened. I mean, our band became the most popular band in Las Vegas really fast. That got us to be able to play with all these great artists that were coming in: The Starting Line, The Early November, Yellowcard, Something Corporate, Taking Back Sunday, Saosin; all these great bands would come in and play and we would get to play with them because they knew that we would help with the draw. And so that helped us get signed. Then eventually we got signed by Fiddler Records and put out Star Is Dead and Histrionics. Then eventually when that label folded, we were signed with Epitaph Records and put out, On Fire and the It’s Only Natural records.

Megan:  Okay. That’s pretty awesome. And my last question is over COVID nobody was touring. Nobody was doing anything. How did you keep music going for you and what helped you stay with it?

Seth Trotter: Well, I would actually thank COVID to the reunion of The Hire, because at that time we weren’t all meeting up and writing music. If we were writing music, we were writing it separately. And, um, I think when COVID happened and all of us had a breather from our jobs, uh, it allowed us to congregate together. So, we were able to fly out to LA and record demos with each other, which allowed faith and Tom to be part of the process with me and Reggie. And I think COVID is really what brought the hire back together. I mean, to be honest, if it wasn’t for COVID, we wouldn’t have made those demos. And if we hadn’t had made those demos, we probably wouldn’t be releasing new music right now. So, I would say that I would thank COVID completely for the reunion of The Higher. And now that we have those songs and we got that ball rolling it, I think it kind of fueled the fire, especially in me and Reggie to want to tour again and see the old fans and perform for ’em. And so, I would say that COVID really did wonders for The Higher in allowing us the time to breathe and record demos and feel focused on music again.

Megan: That’s really awesome. Thank you.

Seth Trotter: Yeah, no, thank you.

Megan: I don’t have any more questions. You answered everything I had and then some.

Seth Trotter: Yeah. So, we have our new single “Free Ride” that’s out now that people can check out on any platform. We do have a new single, another single coming out, for Elvis and Wonderland, the EP called Elvis and Wonderland. It’s the title track from the, the EP. And I believe it’s coming out either it’s September 9th or September 14th. I think it might be September 14th to play it safe. <laugh>

Megan: Okay, perfect.

Seth Trotter: Forgive me. I’m not sure dates, they’re all blending in together, but we have that new single coming out in September. And then in October, the full EP will come out. So, they’ll have all five songs from us and we released a music video with “Free Ride”. So have people be sure to check that out on YouTube. We have a video that’ll be coming out with Elvis in Wonderland. Lots of fun stuff coming for us. As far as touring, we’re doing a lot of dates come November. Then in the new year we will be announcing a lot more touring. So, the cities that didn’t get a chance to see us don’t fret, we are planning on doing more shows probably once the snow kind of clears up in some of those places. The plan is just to be touring and playing these shows come the new year and then next year we’ll probably get back in the studio. I would love to jump in and either do another EP or a full length, hopefully! So excited for all the new fans to check out our new music and find us on any platform. We’re on Instagram, we’re on Facebook, we’re on Tik Tok. Find us, we have our own website, which is just thehighermusic.com and that’ll help link you to all those platforms if you need help finding us.

Megan: Awesome. Thank you.

Seth Trotter: Hey, thank you so much. I appreciate you.

Megan: Thank you. It was great talking to you.

Seth Trotter: And where, where are you from? Exactly.

Megan: I am originally from Oakland. I recently relocated to Phoenix, Arizona last year.

Seth Trotter: Okay. I’m hoping, we’ll see you at that Anarbor show then, right?

Megan: I’m planning on it. Yes.

Seth Trotter: Yes. <laugh>. I like to hear that. And I’m sorry that we stole your football team from Oakland. Oh, and we’re gunning after your baseball team. I don’t know what happened, but I feel like we’ll share them. All the Oakland fans can still come to Vegas and enjoy their teams.

Megan: I’m honestly not going to lie. I’m really hoping that the A’s go over to Vegas because they are not getting the love they deserve over there. And so, when the Raiders made that move good for them, they deserved it.

Seth Trotter: Yeah. Well, we’ll treat ’em right. I hope you know,

Megan: I think you guys already are, we will share ’em with you. <laugh> I think you guys are already treating them great. I have seen tons of Oakland fans going over there for the Raiders games. So, it warms my heart that they’re still loyal to them.

Seth Trotter: Beautiful. Well, we can’t wait to meet you at the Arizona show and Anarbor will be there as well. So, it’ll be a fun party for all of us.

Megan: Yes. I’m excited! I can’t wait to see you guys live.

Seth Trotter: Beautiful. Well, thank you so much for your time today. I, I appreciate it. And if you need anything from us that night, you just let us know.

Megan: Awesome. Thank you so much. It was great meeting you and I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to talk to me.

Seth Trotter: Cool. Well, thank you. Have a great one.

Megan: Thanks, you too.


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THE LATEST SINGLE FROM THE HIGHER, “FREE RIDE”

*PHOTO BY ALEX BEMIS