On Tour With 7 Minutes In Heaven for 'Drake Magazine Online'

 Photo credit: Sam Fathallah

Photo credit: Sam Fathallah

It’s not very often that you walk into a show and catch the vocalist wearing a onesie. But when Chicago-based pop-punk band 7 Minutes in Heaven took the stage at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines, vocalist Alex Rogers was proudly sporting penguin footie pajamas. “Today is penguin appreciation day,” he says.

And is this the craziest thing to happen on tour? Not a chance.

Just the night before, the band’s tour van slid off the road. The trailer jack-knifed, and sparks flew. It was as badass as it was terrifying. “We’re alive though,” guitar and vocalist Timmy Rasmussen says.

And this just seems to be the kind of lifestyle 7 Minutes in Heaven is used to. The band started as Rasmussen’s solo project in 2012. But Rogers (vocals/bass) and Justin Mondzak’s (guitar) addition seemed to be exactly what 7MIH needed to find their sound, combining pop/punk/rock elements with catchy, can’t-help-but- sing-a-long choruses.

After touring and releasing “The Statement: Deluxe” at the end of 2014, they started off 2015 on the road with the first part of the Cold Kids and Campfires Tour. After that, the band started writing the band’s newest offering “Side Effects.”

Fast-forward one year, and the band is starting off 2016 with the Cold Kids and Campfires Tour Part 2—hitting 11 Midwest cities in 11 days—living the tour life, complete with “shitty fast food and really long smoke breaks,” bringing a summer campfire vibe to each frozen Midwest city along the way.

Lanterns light the stage in the dim venue, and Rasmussen and Mondzak strum the opening chords to “Firework,” which quite literally begins the acoustic show with a bang. Rogers’ commanding vocals start the tune, and concertgoers join right in.

“This is our first tour promoting the EP,” Rogers says, “And kids have been singing along to our new songs. We never really expected that.”

“Side Effects,” was released in December, hitting No. 1 on Billboard’s Alt New Artist chart and reaching the top 10 on the iTunes Alternative Charts.

“This is the first time that we’ve written together as a band,” Mondzak says. “We found out how each other writes and what our thought process is during the recording.”

Rogers agrees. “This EP kind of decided our path, solidifying what we’re about as a band.”

Their identity as a band is even more important than most. As an unsigned band, they don’t have a record label to lean on. They rely on the fans for survival in the oversaturated online music environment. “It’s fun being able to make something happen because you have this relationship with these people,” Rogers says.

Plus, they’ve found that the Midwest might just be the place to kick start a music career.

Rogers remembers “the glory days” when America’s flyover states were a musical hub. And then it lost momentum. The music scene filled with “shitty metal bands,” but authentic pop-punk is finding its focus back on Midwest talent. “Like the economy, it takes a couple years of something happening for it to actually take effect,” Rogers says. “And I feel like in the Midwest specifically, we have all eyes back on us.”

With bands like Knuckle Puck and Real Friends coming out of Chicago, 7MIH is ready to make their name known.

“Most of the time, we are written off as this ‘scene pop wannabe,’” Rogers says.

“We want to be a part of that pop punk [scene],” Rasmussen says. “We want pits, we want crowd surfers.”

And with So What?! festival up next for 2016, they are listed alongside some of the biggest names in pop punk today—think State Champs, Neck Deep, and more.

It’s their first festival. Another trip across the country, another story to tell. And to them, that’s what being in a band is all about.

“Like yesterday, for example,” Rogers says in agreement.

“We could be dead today, but we’re not,” Rasmussen adds. “Now we can tell that story.”