#Interview: American High – Doug Terry By Rock Star Journalist Eileen Shapiro

One of the most profound bands rising today is California based indie sensation, American High. Visionary and front man Doug Terry, chosen as spokesman for the faction is no stranger to political fascination and protest, which much of the group’s music reflects. 

Musically, their pronounced and unique harmony resonates in each and every song, making their sound special and recognizable, and ready for the radio. Their loquacious lyrics have relevant meaning and substance. They are getting college radio airplay, are being invited to perform in the coolest places, and creating a buzz nationwide, as well as internationally.

The most awesome attribute that this group possesses aside from their music is they that give every penny they musically earn to food pantries. Doug Terry shared some answers to questions relating to the group’s musical imageries, and their future endeavors. 

After the anti war harmonic phenomena, what’s the next chapter for American High?
We released this, our first album, in March and it seems to only be gaining more and more attention.  In the past two weeks, we were given a spot (we chose ‘Fairfield, CA’) on a popular British compilation record.  We released our third single, ‘Sensei’, and the music video made its debut on the world-famous Jimmy Star Show with Ron Russell. Thousands have watched our videos on youtube, and many more have heard the songs across Soundcloud/Bandcamp/iTunes/iheartradio/Pandora, etc. With the new academic year, our songs are being played on college and indie radio across the US again. Also, we have received offers to play some really cool live shows.  

The next single will be released within the next week or so.  The song is called ‘Moon’ and it has already made it onto the charts.  We’re looking forward to releasing the video.  
 But most of all we are looking forward to getting back into the studio.  These past few months have been uniquely creatively inspiring.  We have enough good songs for the next record with plenty to spare.  

I totally love, love, love the new video for the new single “Sensei”, the harmony is my favorite yet,  please explain the inspiration behind it.

Firstly, thank you very much for the kind words.  We wanted the video to come from the same creative place that the song came from.  For me, making songs starts out very organically.  ‘Sensei’ started as something that I just liked playing.  The harmonies are probably technically incorrect.  But I found myself singing in different ways whenever I played it.  One day I realized that all of these odd vocals fit together in some weird way, and the harmonies were born.  But I still didn’t have the lyrics.  I didn’t know what the song was about yet.

I had what I call placeholder lyrics.  It’s something I learned from one of my favorite writers, P. McCartney.  ‘Yesterday’ had placeholder lyrics…they were ‘scrambled eggs’.  Later he wrote the real lyrics.  I believe in swinging for the fences when it comes to song writing, so I pay attention when a genius says anything about song writing.  I can’t remember what mine were for ‘Sensei’ but one day I overheard my then 5 year old daughter singing the song, quietly to herself.  She sang what she thought were the words; “pretty, pretty Sincy”.  When I sat down and played it, singing with her lyrics, the whole song came out all at once.  There is something that I like about the music being so rock and roll and the lyrics being all about peace and love.  Maybe other things too. 
The song can be interpreted in different ways.  One way is to take it at face value…it’s an escape fantasy.  Or maybe it’s about happiness having nothing to do with money.  Maybe it’s about the fact that there are no such things as borders.  You can’t see them from space, and they change over time, don’t they?  So if borders aren’t real, what does that mean about countries?  The video is impressionistic.  The artist who made it captured the tone and mood of the song, without pointing out exactly what he thought the song was about.  

If you could play support for any artist or band in the world, which would you choose and why?

The one with the biggest audience, I suppose.  American High songs are something new.  Creative imagination running wild with very diverse influences.  I don’t know that there is another band out there with our same style.  We’ve had reviews in everything from folk music magazines to punk rock websites.  People have different tastes, so we don’t expect absolutely everyone to dig our songs and agree with our point of view.  We would need to open for a band who’s audience would be open to our acoustic songs as well as our distortion rock songs.  
 The soundtrack of your life has just been mixed, what songs are on it ?
      ‘Hope’ – Descendents 
      ‘Taxman’ – The Beatles
      ‘Help Me, Rhonda’ – The Beach Boys
      ‘So. Central Rain’ – REM
      ’86’ – Green Day   
      ‘Cemetary Gates’ – The Smiths
      ‘Sunny Afternoon’ – The Kinks
      ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ – The Ramones
      ‘Maybe Baby’ – Buddy Holly
      ‘Son of Sam’ – Elliott Smith
      ‘I’m Stuck in a Pagoda With Tricia Toyota’ – The Dickies
      ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’ – Jim Croce
      ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ – Nirvana
      ‘I Am A Rock’ – Simon and Garfunkel
      ‘Summer Babe (Winter Version)’ – Pavement
      ‘Kiss off’ – Violent Femmes
       ‘Memphis, Tennessee’ – Chuck Berry
       ‘Run Through the Jungle’ – Creedence Clearwater Revival
       ‘In Between Days’ – The Cure
       ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ – The Beatles

  If American High where running for President what would your campaign song be and why?

‘War’ by Edwin Starr.  And ‘Taxman’ by The Beatles.  

 Next project? and theme?
The next project will be our next record.  The themes come together during the creative process, so it’s hard to say.  But we’re all about freedom, peace and prosperity for all.  That’s not going to change. 
Leave us with some words of wisdom, you have free reign.

There are certain facts that just do not require proving.  Facts that no sane person would disagree with.  Like bullying a special needs kid just because he/she is different is wrong.  Initiating violence against a non-violent person is wrong.  Cheating people out of their money by lying is wrong.
We are all born with certain rights.  Rights that just do not require proving.  It’s true that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.  But the rights of the many DO NOT outweigh the rights of the few.  For example, if 99% of the populous voted to illegalize being gay, that vote would not be valid, right?  There are things that just aren’t up for a vote.  The person you chose to love and marry is not up for a vote.  Your right to decide to worship God however you want is not up for a vote.  Your right to not believe in a god at all is not up for a vote.  Just because everyone else votes you into slavery, that wouldn’t make you a slave, right?  Democracy has its limitations.  Or it should have.  
We are all born with identical rights.  The most important one is the right to be wrong.
In other words, WE DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE AWAY OTHER PEOPLE’S RIGHTS!   Even if we disagree.  Even if 99% of us disagree.  Even if we vote to outlaw an obviously bad thing, that doesn’t automatically make it a valid vote.  People get to be wrong, and that’s none of the rest of our business. 
But that is exactly what the entire world is doing every day.  Voting on things that no one has the right to vote on.  Not long ago a farmer in the US was arrested for selling milk to his neighbors.  Armed government agents stormed this man’s farm with automatic weapons and arrested him.  They also arrested some of his customers.  Why?  Because the milk was not pasteurized.  Customers knew it and the farmer knew it.  They didn’t feel that it is healthy to pasteurize milk, they wanted fresh milk straight from the cow.  Now, I know what I believe about drinking unpasteurized milk.  But my opinion is just that.  An opinion.  When men with guns storm your property and violently kidnap you just because the majority thinks something you are doing is bad, obviously something much worse is happening.
We as a people are addicted to forcing each other to live the ‘right’ way.  That is what most elections and votes are about.  We hope people will wake up and realize the truth.  
 Votes are violence.  Laws are just opinions with a gun.  When you vote on a law and that law goes into effect, you should know that highly armed, trained and dangerous people (the police) will be going out and committing violence against anyone who disagrees.  Are you okay with that?  Is committing violence against a non-violent farmer immoral or is watching people maybe get sick from drinking bad milk immoral?  Which is worse?  We think committing violence is worse.  It’s none of our business what other people do, so long as they are not committing violence or defrauding others.  We can explain bacterium to them, we can protest outside their property, we can try to persuade.  We can’t violently attack them.  
In particular, the US is addicted to forcing other nations to do things ‘the right way’.  Democracy.  We do not believe it’s any of our business what other nations do or do not do.  Democracy isn’t the thing, human rights are the thing.  Don’t pledge allegiance to the flag, pledge allegiance to your fellow man.  Stand up for other people’s right to be wrong.  Stand up against forcing others to live  the ‘right’ way.   
 Because violence itself is the ultimate wrong.

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