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Pray For Sleep

Bands form for many reasons, but Pray For Sleep came together for a cause that effects millions of Americans across the U.S, nearly 450 million. Hailing from the Columbus, OH area, Vocalist Grant DeCrane, Guitarist Ethan Carlson, Guitarist Hayden Kissler and Drummer Reno Houston focus their music on mental and behavioral health issues and helping people that are going through struggles in their lives. Behind Our Eyes, the band’s debut album, really showcases this theme as well as their amazing musical abilities. They truly reach out to their community with their own program that they also take to local schools, DeCrane, Kissler and Houston explained. They also revealed how they started out, what their goals are and where they are headed.

SFL Music: How did you guys all come together to form this band?

Houston: So, I live in Westerville Ohio. It’s near Columbus, and around my neighborhood we have a 4th of July parade that goes on every year. I actually was playing drums in it and I uploaded a video of it to Instagram, and Hayden messaged me because we had a mutual friend that connected us. He messaged me and said, hey, I know you don’t know who I am, but I want to meet you sometime and maybe play some music and you know, I play guitar and we have similar music taste and all this stuff. So, I had him over and that went really well. Grant, I’ve known since I was around 10 years old. So, he joined the band a couple of months after that, and then from there. we’ve just been writing music and doing different things as a band, but that’s how we started, which is kind of funny because we didn’t all know each other at the time, but it’s really cool.

SFL Music: Did you all know that you wanted to be musicians professionally? Was this what you always wanted to do?

Houston: For me, I’ve always wanted to be a musician for sure and I think I kind of speak for the three of us, we’ve all been involved with music our whole lives. Whether it was playing in church or playing in marching band, or playing in other smaller bands when we were in middle school and high school and things like that, but yeah, I think we all agree we have wanted to be musicians our whole lives. So, it kind of worked itself out, which is really cool.

SFL Music: Who would you say were your influences musically?

DeCrane: We’ve had slightly different musical upbringings. I know Hayden grew up on Jack White and jazz guitar. That kind of thing. Reno grew up on the like 80’s hair metal and a lot of that has kind of snuck its way into our music a little bit, influence wise, but for the most part, lots of metal core stuff. Beartooth was a really big influence on us early on and continues to be, but we’ve been trying to branch out more and more. Definitely grown as musicians. So, we’ve got different influences coming from different places, but I think the first one that always comes to mind is Beartooth.

SFL Music: Why is that?

DeCrane: It was something that we all listened to around the formation of the band. They’re also from Columbus, Ohio too, which is pretty cool. They’re from the same city and they’ve done very well for themselves, but we listened to a lot of their music early on in the life of the band all together, and they were kind of a bonding point for us to know that we all enjoyed the same thing.

SFL Music: Now there is a specific point to your band, you do this for a particular cause. Can you please explain that to our readers?

DeCrane: Yeah, absolutely. When we started the band, we wanted to have a message. We didn’t want to be just a band that goes and plays music, just to play music. Music has impacted all of our lives in a very big way. Specifically, around the area of mental, behavioral health awareness. I know we all kind of during high school and middle school, used music as a coping mechanism for different stresses and things like that. So, we focused a lot on advocation and raising awareness for mental, behavioral health and we’ve been focusing on that since the beginning. It’s a big topic for a lot of our songs. We focus a lot of our lyrics around different topics in the mental health subjects.

SFL Music: Do you all raise money for this or just awareness.

DeCrane: The main goal is to raise awareness through all of what we’ve done. We take time out at shows to share statistics and to be part of what we talk about when we’re performing, but we have done donations. We took all of the proceeds from our first headlining show that we had the chance to perform. Donated those to Nationwide Children’s Hospital when they launched their On Our Sleeves campaign last October and I’ve had the chance to work with that program a little bit here in Columbus and they’ve actually, the On Our Sleeves program, partnered with our Scream Back program that we just put together and have been working on as our official education partner.

SFL Music: Wow, that’s great. So, they donate educational materials to help anyone who may be going through a mental health issue?

DeCrane: Yeah. We originally started working with them because we want to make a difference and we want to have a good impact, but we are also just recently graduated kids that got out of high school. We’re not like mental health professionals or anything So, we started reaching out to them for resources and they’ve given us a lot of really good statistics and information and resources to send people to if they’re looking for help, and a lot of good stuff like that, and they’ve been super helpful to us in that way.

SFL Music: Did this come about because of a personal experience? A friend or just seeing this issue around you. I know a lot of young people are so stressed today with so much on them. Is that how this came about?

DeCrane: Yeah, I mean that was definitely a big point in the very beginning for us. For me specifically music was my sort of coping mechanism. I dealt with a lot depression and anxiety through middle and high school, and music was sort of the catalyst that got me towards recovery and pursuing better mental health. So, I think, kind of our idea behind that the whole time was if someone else was that for us, how cool would it be if we could be that for somebody else? So yeah, I think personal experience is a big influence as well as just seeing it in the people around us. We have close friends that have dealt with a whole plethora of issues from abuse to trauma, to different things like that so, It’s something that we’ve seen a lot of just as we were growing up through middle and high school, and it’s something that we recognized needs to be addressed more than it currently is. So, that was kind of where we landed on that.

SFL Music: What inspires the music you write? Where do the ideas come from?

DeCrane: It just kind of comes from of all over the place. We all listen to a lot of different music. There’s definitely influence from other artists that we listen to. I know speaking for the lyrics, a lot of it, it’s focused on either personal experience or the testimony and story of close friends that I’ve had a chance to talk with. It’s all based on like advocation and awareness and that. Like “Ask Us” specifically, the lyrics are really kind of a call to action to the general public I guess, but it’s from the perspective of someone struggling, just the conversation of like, I want to talk about the problems that I’m struggling with. It’s really hard to start that conversation from this end of things, but if someone were to reach out to me and ask me and start a conversation with me, that sort of eases that difficulty.

SFL Music: Is that what you want your fans to take away from the show that they can connect with others and they’re not alone?

DeCrane: Absolutely. Yeah. Our kind of a mantra of ours we thought, ‘we are not alone’ is something, it’s on our website, it’s on our merch. We have it all over the place. That’s really our main goal with it because we’re not professionals. We can’t really speak to the problem necessarily per say, but we want to do everything we can to help people realize that they’re not alone in their struggles and that there are ways to get better and to get help.

SFL Music: What can people look forward to at your shows besides the music and the messages? High energy?

Houston: Yeah especially with our live shows we try to have a lot of energy there. We try to make it really fun for everybody. Especially with the way we write our songs. Another goal of ours was to not just stay in one specific sound or genre. We want to go kind of both ways so more people will, you know maybe be able to find songs of ours that they like better and others maybe, we can reach more people that way, but we try to you know like you said, high energy shows. Have a lot of fun. All of our songs are about different mental health struggles. So, we’re kind of getting the message across while we’re having fun, and having the high energy shows, and doing all the cool stuff like we, you know, we try to be as engaging as possible. We’ve got like a light show. We try to go really crazy onstage, everything like that, just like every other high energy band you’ll see, but one of the other things we do that we kind of touched on a little bit is, we do shows at schools as well, the Scream Back program that we started. So, what those shows did kind of looks a little different. We still want it to be high energy fun and engaging for the kids that we’re playing for, but those shows have a way bigger focus on the message. So, we’ll go up and after paying a couple of songs, we’ll talk about our personal stories and what we’ve been through personally and how we got through it. We talk to what we did to cope with it. Different things like that and then we use our connection with Nationwide Children’s On Our Sleeves campaign and give the kids resources so that they can get help, and we’re trying to like, start a conversation in school. So, we’re trying to honestly do what every other band does. We want to tour. We want to play shows and release music and all the stuff like everybody else, but we want to kind of go the extra mile when we can and have a more mental health focus side as well.

SFL Music: To clarify for our readers, the Scream Back Program is in partner with the hospital, Nationwide Children’s?

DeCrane: The On Our Sleeves Campaign is a program that they’re running. We’re partnered with them as an education partner. It’s not directly with the hospital.

SFL Music: What exactly do you do with the Scream Back Program?

Houston: The Scream Back Program, the goal behind it is to raise awareness. We saw early on and through all the statistics that we received from the On Our Sleeves program that the main demographic for mental health issues and conditions is people ages 14-25, and so trying to think of a way that we can get to the most people in that age group, and kind of get the message out, and we landed with this program that takes a live performance of a few of our songs to a school, and then also uses peer to peer messaging to kind of encourage kids to talk about mental health and any struggles that they’re having, and kind of just open that door and start that conversation for them in a way that’s a little bit different from the usual, and is a little bit more engaging.

SFL Music: So, they use your program in the schools to help the school kids?

DeCrane: Yeah, that’s the goal. We take our program to different schools. We’re working right now on setting up a show, but we go in and plan with their student leadership how we want to run the show and what exactly we’re going to do for the schools, and then we work with them through the program. Work with the student leaders and their administrative staff to put the program together and tailor it for their school so they get the most out of it that they possibly can.

SFL Music: Well I haven’t heard much from Hayden, so what would you like to add in about how you all work together musically and write songs?

Kissler: Usually when we get together to write we have a bunch of different ideas to turn into something together, but when we wrote the songs that we’re releasing right now, we got together in my basement. We had an idea of ten songs that we wanted to make and each song had a different mental health issue that one of us had dealt with, or one of our close friends, or just stories that we’ve heard, and we’ll bring that to the studio and we put it to some of the riffs that I will write, and then we usually end up with like a rough kind of track, and then when we start tracking it and stuff you know, we’ll do the drums last. That’s pretty much the writing process. It takes a long time. Yeah, it’s a really fun experience to be able to put something that’s an idea in your mind and put it on iTunes.

SFL Music: Is there any new music being released?

Kissler: Well actually we’re gonna be releasing some more music soon here. We’re releasing a song called “Outpatient” and we’ve got a bunch of new music coming out the 27th of December.

SFL Music: So, is there also going to be a video or anything else that fans can look forward to?

DeCrane: Yeah, we’ve released a couple of music videos at this point. They’re on our utube channel Pray For Sleep. Not working on any other videos at the moment, but new things are definitely coming from us. We’re working on some more new music and other stuff like that. Our social media is a great way to find content from us if people are interested in learning more. We try our best to be pretty active on Instagram and twitter and Facebook and all that good stuff. Then our website has the most information that you’re going to find about us. It’s just prayforsleep.com. It’s got a little bit of background about the band. Information about some of the songs, and then you can get more information about the Scream Back program, Screamback.org if your curious about that or have any questions. Lots of information there, and also links to resources to get help or to reach out or if you’re interested in any of that.

SFL Music: Oh, that’s good for readers to know. My Editor was really impressed when he saw your show and the fact that you do this mental health program is so important. Was there anything else you wanted to add for people to know?

Houston: I would just say definitely would like to get down in Florida so we can do a fun tour and yeah, we’re really excited with all the cool stuff we’ve got going on and then like Grant said, all of our information’s on prayforsleep.com or screamback.org and as well we’re always here to talk to people if they’re going through anything. We love to connect people with resources to get help with any mental health issues or anything like that.

DeCrane: All of our shows are posted on our website. We’ve just got some that are coming up next month and then we’re going to schedule festivals and things like that for the spring and the coming year, but we haven’t gotten anything in the books just yet.

SFL Music readers keep your eyes open for new Pray For Sleep music and upcoming shows. These extremely talented musicians with their focus on mental health, is vitally important for so many people, young and old. Nobody should feel that they are alone or helpless. These musicians honestly work toward achieving that goal which is apparent with their energetic, relatable music.

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