I’ve said only a handful of times throughout my career, “This is one of my favorite interviews…”, but this one was extra-cool and meaningful. Growing up is a crazy thing. You meet so many people along the way, and sometimes, life manages to bring you full-circle in certain instances. This was one of those times. I graduated from Bethlehem Catholic High School (Bethlehem, PA) in 2005. Dan Kastelnik, lead singer/guitarist of Sandlot Heroes, graduated just one year ahead of me in 2004. We didn’t always travel in the same circles, being a grade apart and all, but we definitely knew each other. Now, here we are. Full circle. Just livin’ the dream.
After catching up a bit, Dan and I sat down for an interview backstage at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA – a mere hour and fifteen minutes from where we grew up. Sandlot Heroes were on a huge U.S. winter tour with Yellowcard, The Wonder Years, and We Are The In Crowd. The Electric Factory was especially, well, “electric” that night, with The Wonder Years being from Philly, and Sandlot Heroes hailing from just a stone’s throw away in Bethlehem. “It’s our closest [show] to hometown. I’m excited. I think a lot of people are coming out to see us from The Valley and Philly.” For all that aren’t familiar, Bethlehem is located in an area of several towns and cities, collectively called The Lehigh Valley.
As far as this tour goes, “It’s awesome,” Kastelnik stated. “It’s the best tour so far for us. It’s been great, every show has been packed.” Being on a tour like this does wonders for up-and-coming bands, especially with star headliners like Yellowcard and seasoned vets like The Wonder Years. “This is just taking it to a whole ‘nother level as far as the number of people who can access your music,” Kastelnik said. Sandlot Heroes three #1 requested songs on Eastern Pennsylvania’s Top-40 station B104 and sold over 20,000 singles of their hit, “Out of My Hands.” In October 2011, Sandlot Heroes released their new EP, The Trace, which includes the singles “My Favorite Song” and “All In All”. Right before the band left for the Yellowcard tour, they released a new single on iTunes called “Escape”. “It’s great. It’s basically our new sound we’re going for, and everybody seems to be reacting really well to it.” Sandlot Heroes released their debut LP a little over two years ago. “Our first record that we released 2-3 years ago was more like a ‘pop-punk’ sound,” Dan said. Now, the band members are more seasoned souls, and going to a sound similar to bands like The Script and The Fray. “We’ve all grown up a little bit. Pop-punk is awesome and its what we grew up on, but we’ve all gotten a little bit older. The lyrics are more mature, and so is the sound.”
Throughout their career, Sandlot Heroes have shared stages of the biggest names in music, including New Found Glory, Yellowcard, Hot Chelle Rae, Boys Like Girls, All Time Low, The Ready Set, Saosin, Hawthorne Heights, Jason Derulo The Wonder Years, and many more. The band recently returned from a whirlwind run of the U.S. with Honor Society on the Rock the Red Kettle Tour. MTV Buzzworthy recently featured Sandlot Heroes, praising that “their songs are hooky enough to be pop tunes and hard-core enough to be rock songs. But there’s something else floating around in the mix — maybe it’s the boys’ heartfelt lyrics, or maybe it’s their super-tight harmonies, but Sandlot Heroes possesses a unique quality that sets them apart from other pop rockers.” Looking ahead, Sandlot Heroes music will be featured on the popular MTV series, “Teen Wolf.”
Later this year, the band’s new full-length LP, “American Love”, is set for release after much anticipation. In February, the band will be embarking on a brief headlining run, Cupid Killed The Radio Star Tour, with support from This Is All Now and Crybaby. More tour dates are expected to be announced as we move towards the spring. Until then, download their new single, “Escape”, and get your tickets for their East Coast run. – by Matt Bishop (Photos Courtesy of Sandlot Heroes)