Backstage Pass: I Prevail At Altar Bar

By: Casey Shea

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A new band out of Michigan made a big mark through social media and they are now taking that success on the road.

If you haven’t heard of I Prevail, get ready because they are primed to take the world by storm.

The post-hardcore band’s four main members are Brian Burkheiser (vocals), Eric Vanlerberghe (vocals), Steve Menoian (guitar) and Lee Runestad (drums).

Social media brought the first two members together and helped find another.

“We just had some influences in common that linked our pages together. We met up and had dinner…just decided we really hit it off and let’s start writing some music. We found Eric through [friends],” Menoian said.

They would eventually find Runestad through a YouTube video of him performing a drum cover of a song from A Day To Remember.

“He pretty much fit in instantly and the rest is history,” Menoian said.

If you’re unfamiliar with the post-hardcore style of music, Vanlerberghe offers this explanation.

“You take the hardcore, like the heavy kind of music, you give it a little mix of the nice kind of catchy melodies,” he said.

Watch The Full Uncut Interview With I Prevail:

I Prevail hail from Southeastern Michigan and their cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” has been a huge success.

The video was posted on Dec. 1, 2014, and as of this writing, it has over 7 million views.

But, this is far from your run-of-the-mill cover. The driving guitar, powerful drums and a perfect combination of melodic and screaming vocals gives the song new life.

So, what led the band to picking this particular song?

“We were listening to the album, ’Shake It Off’ came out and we weren’t really feeling that – for our purposes anyway. We listened through the album and before ‘Blank Space’ became the single, we were all just really liking it. So, we just loved it, decided to go with it and it worked out,” Runestad said.

The feedback on their rendition has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, it reached the number one spot on the iTunes Rock Singles chart. In addition, their debut EP “Heart Vs. Mind” was released in December and quickly shot up to No. 1 on the iTunes Rock Album chart.

However, the band is still hoping to hear from Swift herself and have reached out to her through their music videos on YouTube.

Runestad even gave out his personal cell phone number hoping for the superstar to call him.

“Lee, if you notice at the end of the video, he actually gave out his real phone number at the end of the YouTube video trying to get Taylor to call him,” Menoian said. “I tried to cut him off, I tried to save him, but he still squeaked that last digit out there. It was kind of unclear what it was. He actually had to change his phone number!”

“Text messages, phone calls, voice mails just non-stop. It was cool, it was awesome for a while, but it made my phone unusable,” Lee jokingly said.

When they released the video, they set a modest goal and were thrilled to see it take off.

Burkheiser credits being able to directly connect to the audience through social media and everyone that shared the video.

“When we launched the video, I think 5,000 to 10,000 views was our initial goal. But, once we saw it climb and climb and climb, we just said, ‘Let’s just reach out to as many people as we can,” Burkheiser said.

The band’s sound is a “melting pot” of influences from a variety of bands and musical genres.

“I think a big band is A Day To Remember that we like to draw some influence from. But, We Came As Romans, Bring Me The Horizon, even big bands like Linkin Park,” Burkheiser said. “We take influences from everything, even R&B music, just throwing in little, little hits of different genres.”

Their 40-plus date tour kicked off in Pittsburgh on March 18 at Altar Bar in the Strip District.

I Prevail are extremely humble and cannot thank their fans enough.

“Honestly, the support has been unreal. All of this wouldn’t have happened without everyone coming together and helping us out. This has been a team effort. We appreciate that,” Runestad said.

5 Questions For I Prevail

For every backstage interview we do, we’ll ask the same few questions. Some are music related, others are just for fun. Here’s what I Prevail had to say:

What is the first album you ever bought?

Eric: 50 Cent, ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin.’ That was the first one.

Brian: I think mine was a Simple Plan album, I don’t remember which one, but Simple Plan.

Lee: Nirvana, but I can’t remember the name of the album.

Steve: Mine was either Foo Fighters or The Offspring.

What is your favorite food?

Steve: Some type of burrito, probably. I think we just live on burritos now. So, pretty much a burrito is a safe bet.

Eric: Pizza or sushi or pizza and sushi.

Brian: Mac and cheese has always been my go to. I love some mac and cheese.

Lee: Chipotle.

What is your highest Bowling Score?

Steve: I don’t think mine will count. I don’t know if you’ve ever done it where nine pins count as a strike? I think I got over 220, but it was 9-pin strikes, so asterisk.

Eric: Let me preface this by saying I took bowling as a class in college. I think I bowled a 180, so still really bad.

Brian: I’m pretty sure I’ve never bowled above 100. So, we’re just not gonna talk about it.

Lee: I haven’t gotten into three digits yet either. Soon. Couple more years.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of playing music?

Steve: Probably something with sports. Big sports guy, so watching sports. Don’t play sports as much as I used to now, but I used to play hockey. Not ice hockey, I’ll play roller hockey, but that still counts right?

Eric: I played baseball through college, playing sports, watching sports. If not that, reading or writing. I’m a nerd, but I love reading and writing.

Brian: I hate to steal from these two, but sports is also a big thing for me – fantasy football. Unfortunately, I’m a Detroit Lions fan. Super Bowl maybe in 2040 or something, but still waiting.

Lee: I’m trying so hard to think of something other than sports to say, but I think that’s it. I don’t know. I can’t think of anything else that I really do right now. Cooking? I do make a mean pot pie.

What’s your most embarrassing moment on stage?

Eric: My pants ripping. Down the crotch, all the way down the leg. When you go for a headbang and you put your legs too far apart and they’re not stretchy pants. Skinny jeans, they are skinny and they’re tight, but there’s a little bit of spandex in there. I think I must have gotten a pair where they forgot to put the spandex in there. I went for a good power stance and (rip) right down to the knee. Had to finish the set and it was the first 30 seconds of the set!

Brian: I did fall off a stage one time, but there were only five people there, so it wasn’t quite as embarrassing as it would be right now. But, those five people will probably remember that for the rest of their life.

Lee: These guys were there for this. So, I was drumming and I got a drum stick legitimately stuck in my hair. It would not come out, it was lodged in there.

Steve: Jumping around in one of our parts, completely pinched a nerve in my neck and went completely stiff. Had to finish a set playing down. That’s what happens when you get old, I guess.

I Prevail are out on tour now! For more information about the band check out their website here.

You can also connect with the band on Facebook and Twitter:

Brian Burkheiser @Bri_Prevail

Eric Vanlerberghe@Eric_Prevail

Steve Menoian@Steve_Prevail

Lee Runestad@Lee_Prevail

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