There is quite the chatter around the band Another Lost Year. Comments heard from their fans include “They’re the next Creed,” or “You don’t understand, these guys will be selling out arenas soon.”
Other fans would argue the Creed association is a horrible comparison. And with the readers of Rolling Stone recently rating Creed as the #1 Worst Band of the Nineties, those fans that see such potential with this band might want to retract that statement.
Although when we told Clinton Cunanan, the lead vocalist for Another Lost Year, about the Creed analogy, he said, “If people want to say we’re the next Creed, that’s fine. People can hate us all they want in 20 years if I sold 50 million albums. I don’t give a shit. That means that 50 million people, we touched their lives.”
When we caught up with Cunanan he was hanging out in the band’s newly purchased RV before a show. Previously they’d been driving a van to shows. Their new RV is not the only way the band is advancing in their careers, as they sit with two #1 hits on iHeartRadio.
No doubt Another Lost Year (ALY as they are called by their fans), has a devoted, somewhat obsessive following. At this show, several fans had driven hours to see them perform, and others at the show had followed them from city to city throughout the week. But why is that? What makes ALY so special?
We simply asked Cunanan what makes them unique, when we talked to him before the Rock Talk DSM concert at Krazee Kafe in Des Moines, Iowa, as part of their High Octane Tour with Three Years Hollow.
Cunanan told us,“We write real music. I try not to write anything that’s not real. The best songs to me are ones that I can say ‘Man I don’t know what he’s talking about there but I’ve been in this situation before.’ And I can grab ahold of it and I can make it my own.”
ALY’s song material started out as a solo project for Cunanan, which may be why he still writes most of the lyrics and music, even as they delve into writing the second record. Cunanan said, “If I’m going to sing it, I’m going to write it.”
Early in his music career Cunanan learned to play bass. Then he moved on to guitar because he always wanted to be a lead guitarist. “I watched Eddie and the Cruisers 2 and that made me want to do it. I made a cardboard cutout of a guitar. I was like 8 years old”
While Cunanan’s gritty, distinctive voice is a signature part of the band’s music, he never meant to be a vocalist. It was simply out of necessity when Cunanan took on the role. “We couldn’t find anybody who could sing. I don’t even think I was that good of a singer. The best of what we had to choose from at the time.”
But he’s excelling at that role, and he believes it’s all about passion and emotion. “There are some guys that I think can really sing. Then there are some guys where I’m like man you can tell there’s some emotion behind there. I’m not up there just singing. I’m telling a frigging’ story. I feel it.” Vocalist Cunanan is known for the way he interacts with the crowd. ALY’s music is emotional, intense and passionate, as the lyrics are largely based on Cunanan’s own life experiences. And when he sings, he looks directly at people, as though he’s telling his story to you. Watching him can be mesmerizing. You’re lured in by his gaze and the storyline.
The path to stardom has been tough on Cunanan. “I’m poor. I don’t eat well. I’m very lonely. I’ve lost everything to this. But there are very few people in this world who can say they do what we get to do.”
Newer artists no longer seem to be playing or selling out arenas. Bands like Daughtry are one of the rare exceptions to sell out large arenas. Cunanan thinks there’s a similar formula there that ALY is following. “His songs are real. There’s a reason why they sell out. He’s real. He puts on a good show. He’s a good dude. He’s got a great story behind him. You can’t be like Tim Lambesis and hire somebody to kill your wife.”
Last year ALY played over 260 dates, sometimes two shows a day. This year they’re on pace to play 330 shows. They have one night off, if that. “I’m giving it all I’ve got. You got one life to live. You never know. That one night could change it all. I live for that night.”
Cunanan thinks some of the keys to their success are staying accessible to the public, and playing their shows at the same intensity whether they are playing in front of five people or in front of hundreds. “I hear that we are one of the bands that is changing how music is done. There are bands that call me that should not be calling me. There are people who call me who should not have my phone number, who call me and are like, ‘Hey man, how are you guys doing what you’re doing?’ I believe in this music more than anything. I’ve sunk everything into this. I’ve never in my life been 100% on anything. I had something to say. I still got a lot to say. When I see how people kinda connect to it, it’s just real.”
As Cunanan has looked out over the crowd in recent weeks, he’s seen fans singing not only their released singles, War On The Inside and Writing On The Wall, but also every other song they perform. It seemed surprising, but thrilling for him to see fans know songs they really shouldn’t. It means they are listening to the album. At a show earlier in the week, a fan even paid the band $200 to play a song they don’t routinely play live.
Cunanan can sense big changes coming for ALY.“I feel like my life is getting ready to change in a big way. They say it doesn’t happen overnight. I don’t know how much more overnight it can happen. We went from not even being a band a little over two years ago to having two #1 songs on iHeartRadio. All the radio play. I’ve been driving through states all over through this country and just random times, ‘holy shit, I wrote that song.’ Two of the songs made it on TV. It makes me nervous and excited all at the same time. I want to be remembered.”
When thinking about putting out a new record and the pressure ALY faces to top their Better Days album released in 2012, Cunanan joked, “God almighty, It’s a good album. I listen to it and I’m like son of a bitch, who did this? You got to follow this up?” But in a more serious tone, Cunanan explained, “I think we’re going to go back with Justin (Rimer) again to produce it. He’s got a lot of new toys in the studio that we’re dying to try out. It’s not for lacking of trying to get in the studio. We want to get back in. We want to get some new material out.”
“I’m really nervous about the next album because I see how much of an impact this album had. I thought that I had the next album wrote already, and I’m not so sure that I do. It’s amazing how just a small window of time can change your perception on everything. A lot of the subject matter in the last three weeks has been about my ex-wife and what we’re going through. I’ve never had to deal with this before, with a child involved. I’m sure a few songs are going to come out of that too. It’s subject matter that people can relate to. It will affect a lot of people. At the end of the day that’s what I want. I don’t want to make people sad. If you can get a little bit of hope. I’m nobody. If I can go through it, then a lot of people can.”
Fans constantly ask ALY when they can expect a new album, and the band hopes to take some time off towards the year to write the album, but as far as putting it out, Cunanan says it comes down to money. “As much as it costs to record an album right now and as much money as we have to put in to make the money back, it’s all about money at this point. We can’t afford to go in right now. We have to continue touring the way that we are so that we can pay our bills. It’s not that we don’t want to. I’d love to. The new music is coming. I swear. Just bear with us”
ALY is also starting an Indiegogo campaign to help cover some of the expenses involved in putting out a new album. After the campaign is launched fans can donate money so ALY can get the new record out quicker.
ALY has spent the last year touring with several other acts. Their favorite thus far has been up and coming act Screaming For Silence, based out of Omaha, Nebraska, who they toured with for about four months.
Cunanan fondly remembers the Chesaning Showboat Music Festival in Michigan as his most memorable show to date. About 2,000 people stood in the pouring rain to watch their set, and Cunanan said it was surreal. They played right before Sevendust. And he said it was like watching Gavin Rossdale on Spring Break MTV ’96 when he’s out there in the pouring rain playing Glycerine with his guitar.
You can catch ALY in multiple cities and at several festivals this summer including the Muddy Water Music Festival in Kansas, the Tri State Music Festival in Tennessee, Breast Fest Biker Bash in Illinois, Rock the Farm in Ohio and the Down N’ Dirty Rock Fest in Michigan.