Revolver teamed up with One Step Closer for an exclusive vinyl variant of their debut LP This Place You Know, which sold out immediately. Head over to the store now to see our full selection of limited-edition vinyl offerings.
There are so many bands out there doing so many interesting things, it's hard to know where to turn. That's why we've created Uprising, a recurring feature offering a concise introduction to a band or artist that we think slays, covering their origins, process and vision. Our latest subject is One Step Closer, the buzz-generating melodic hardcore crew from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, who are gearing up to release their highly anticipated debut record This Place You Know on September 24th via Run For Cover Records.
We recently caught up with frontman Ryan Savitski to find out what makes his project tick: from finding inspiration in Green Day and Title Fight to the bloodiest thing he's witnessed at a One Step Closer show and much more.
WHO IS ONE STEP CLOSER? CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF HISTORY ON HOW YOU CAME TOGETHER?
RYAN SAVITSKI One Step Closer is Tommy Norton on drums, Ross Thompson on guitar, Brian Talipan on bass, Grady Allen on guitar, and myself on vocals. OSC came together when I was 16, I believe it was January 1st, 2016 that we had our first practice. I had done a couple bands in the past with Tommy, but kind of took a break from music for a bit after they fell apart. After hearing the band Turning Point for the first time, I texted Tommy and said we should start a new project that is more melodic like Turning Point. We got together, started jamming some tracks I had ideas for, and then started looking for some members. We had an old drummer for a bit, he was with us for the first two years of the band. I happened to meet BT on a skateboarding trip right after Christmas in 2015 and he ended up joining. We played as a four piece for a while, then Ross joined on second guitar in 2018. After kicking out our old drummer, Tommy went back to his roots by playing drums instead of guitar and we asked Grady to join us on guitar. We'd met Grady from playing shows in Connecticut, we ended up becoming close with a group of people up there and later asked him to play with us. This happened in 2018 as well and that has been the lineup since!
IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE YOUR BAND'S MISSION STATEMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Pat Flynn wrote an essay for us recently and he pretty much described our mission statement perfectly. The last sentence of the it reads, "One Step Closer is a source and force of seeking the freedom to be as you are and dream to be." Although this is a little more poetic than how I would describe it, the feeling and message is there. For me, this band has always been about doing things our own way and making music that we love and connect with. We enjoy what we do and want to continue doing it as long as we can.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO HARDCORE, OR HEAVY MUSIC IN GENERAL?
My dad has always been into classic rock and hair metal, so I kind of grew up on it. When I was like 10 years old though, one of my best friends' older brother was pretty involved in the local music scene here in Wilkes Barre. He showed us a bunch of local stuff like Title Fight, Cold World, The Menzingers, etc. and I think that was where my interest was piqued. From there I started discovering so many bands and forming my own taste that leans toward a different style of heaviness than what my dad showed me. I think the first album that really made an impact on me was Title Fight's The Last Thing You Forget. That record changed my life honestly.
IN TERMS OF HARDCORE, WHO WOULD YOU SAY ARE YOUR TOP THREE INFLUENCES, AND WHY?
For me personally, definitely Turning Point, Title Fight and Inside Out. I feel like we've been pulling inspiration recently from a lot of stuff outside of hardcore, but those were the core inspirations from the start. I think all those bands stand apart in their own ways and I'm just a big fan of that. I love how melodic each band feels, but they each put their own unique touch on it. Three of my all-time favorite bands.
YOU MENTIONED PULLING INSPIRATION OUTSIDE OF HARDCORE. DO YOU HAVE ANY "UNEXPECTED" MUSICAL INFLUENCES THAT MIGHT SURPRISE LISTENERS?
The self-titled Blink 182 record … That record is a huge influence for a lot of us in the band. It just captures this certain emotion and melodic nature that I love. It's something I strive for on the new One Step Closer record, I want people to get the same feeling from the new OSC record that I get after listening to the Blink 182 self-titled. The rest of the band pulls from a ton of bands outside our wheelhouse as well, probably more than myself.
YOU TALKED A BIT ABOUT TITLE FIGHT AND THE WILKES-BARRE SCENE. HOW DO YOU SEE ONE STEP CLOSER FITTING IN WITH — OR STANDING APART FROM — IT?
What's cool about Wilkes-Barre is that pretty much every band here sounds different from one another. There is no set sound that people are trying to copy, they're just doing their thing. Every band stands out in their own way and I think it makes our scene super unique.
BEING IN A BAND, WHAT'S THE HARDEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE COME ACROSS SO FAR, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
I think the hardest thing we've all had to deal with is conflict between members. We have had our fair share of big disputes in the band where people did not talk to each other for weeks, sometimes months, but eventually they got solved just because we love making music. Everyone in the band has so much love for making music that it pretty much overcomes any issue. We're like a family and even families fight sometimes. But we always clear it up and the band has been thriving and feeling better than ever.
THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN COLLECTIVELY, AND INDIVIDUALLY, CHALLENGING. HAVE YOU DEVELOPED ANY NEW CREATIVE ROUTINES OR HOBBIES TO HELP YOU COPE WITH LOCKDOWNS AND RESTRICTIONS?
My goal from the start of the pandemic was to stay busy and stay as motivated as possible. It was challenging at times, but I feel like I did a pretty good job. I got into fitness through the quarantine and started learning piano, also started some new side project bands for fun. We also finished writing and recorded the This Place You Know, and my other band, Anxious, finished a record as well. Even though there were no shows or anything to look forward to, we found ways to make the most of our time.
LIVE SHOWS ARE STARTING TO KICK OFF AGAIN … WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF BEING ON TOUR AND WHAT'S THE WORST PART OF BEING ON TOUR?
Honestly the best part of touring is being able to see so many new places with my friends. I love meeting new people and making new friendships along the way, but there are definitely some rough parts of touring. Mainly for me it's eating garbage food every day and lack of sleep, but it is all worth it.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PRESHOW RITUAL TO GET YOU IN THE RIGHT HEADSPACE?
Right before COVID I started doing some pre-show rituals. The last couple tours I was doing vocal warm-ups to some YouTube videos. That kind of calmed my nerves and just made me feel good about the set ahead. We also would sit in the back and run a couple tracks acoustically to warm up right before the set, sometimes it was goofy, other times it was serious. Still something we will probably do on our first tour back. [Laughs]
WHAT'S THE WILDEST THING THAT'S EVER HAPPENED AT ONE OF YOUR SHOWS?
One of my favorite memories on our first East Coast tour was kind of wild. We were playing a very DIY garage show and people were going off. Some dude jumped up and smashed a long fluorescent light with his hand, but everyone still continued to mosh and fall on the glass that was laying all over the ground. It was like no one cared, the dude went on like nothing happened while his hand was bleeding all over. It was the most punk thing I've ever seen.
WHAT'S THE MOST MEMORABLE SHOW THAT YOU'VE ATTENDED AS A FAN?
Back to School jam 2016, I believe? Such a crazy line up that year and three cars full of friends rolled down for it. Either that, or the Turning Point reunion at This Is Hardcore 2016. It was insane to hear those songs live and it was the first time they had played since 1994 and only time they have played since.
OUTSIDE OF THE BAND, AND MUSIC IN GENERAL, WHAT ARE YOUR PASSIONS?
Skateboarding is a huge part of my life alongside the bands. Before I started playing in bands, skateboarding was all I did. We're also huge into fashion and are finally starting this brand we have been wanting to do for so long. Super excited to get moving on that.
WHAT BAND OR MUSICAL ARTIST ARE YOU THE BIGGEST FAN OF? ANY SUPERFAN STORIES?
Honestly over the years I think I've determined that Title Fight might be my favorite band of all time. I've loved them since I was a kid and every record they put out is perfect. I don't have any crazy stories with them, but they played the first hardcore show I ever went too. I would have said Green Day is my favorite band, but their last couple releases have kind of … sucked.
IF YOU COULD ONLY PLAY ONE OF ONE STEP CLOSER'S SONGS FOR SOMEONE TO INTRODUCE THEM TO YOUR BAND, WHAT SONG WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I would show them "Lead to Gray" because that is closest to what the new record sounds like and it holds sentimental value to me. For the first time it felt like we didn't hold ourselves back during the writing of that song. We experimented with more guitar leads and layering, it helped spark the creativity for the new record. One of my favorite songs to play!
YOU RECENTLY DROPPED "PRINGLE STREET" — THE FIRST SINGLE FROM THIS PLACE YOU KNOW. TELL US ABOUT THAT TRACK.
"Pringle Street" was the perfect track to release as the first single because it captures a little bit of everything that the new record has to offer. There's a bit of singing with the yells and more guitar leads that pop out more than what we have done in the past. Also it has a stronger structure and a lot of layering in general, which was something we hadn't done as much till now. It feels like a complete song to me. I think "Pringle Street" shows our growth as a band and gives a good insight on what's to come.
WHERE'D THE NAME "PRINGLE STREET" COME FROM — IS THAT A REAL STREET?
[Laughs] Yeah it is, it's the street I live on. The song is about being stuck home and disconnected because of the pandemic, so "Pringle Street" was the perfect name.
WHAT'S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THIS PLACE YOU KNOW BEFORE THEY HEAR IT?
This record is pure self-expression in all aspects. I know everyone in the band is super proud of how it turned out and we can't wait for everyone to hear it.