The members of 35th & Taylor don't hesitate to seize an opportunity when it comes their way.
Last week, the Siouxland rock band announced on Facebook that it would be opening for Bon Jovi on Sunday (March 26) at the United Center in Chicago.
35th & Taylor was chosen from numerous participating groups as part of Bon Jovi's opening act contest, which gave bands around the United States a chance to play an arena date during Bon Jovi's latest tour, according to the band's website.
The Weekender spoke to singer Anna Taylor and guitarist Evan Kaler about the band's upcoming show:
What was your initial reaction to hearing the news?
Anna Taylor: We all freaked out! We are beyond excited to have this opportunity to play United Center in front of 23,000 people – definitely the biggest number we’ve ever played in front of. Crazy excited.
Evan Kaler: I was kind of speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I kind of didn’t believe ‘em at first. I was at a loss for words. I still kind of am.
What’s the next step after finding out that the band will open for Bon Jovi?
Taylor: It’s just us opening up for Bon Jovi. There’s no other opening act. We have a 20-minute set before him and we plan on playing all originals. That’s an opportunity for us to get our music out there in front of all those people. We’ve been practicing a lot more than we normally do. We usually meet up once a week. We know the songs very, very well -- but we want to be extra prepared.
How did you all find out about this contest?
Kaler: We had seen Bon Jovi talking on the "Today" show a few months ago about it and said he was looking for opening acts. Someone mentioned it on our Facebook page about it, too. The process for that was to submit one video, one picture and one quote. The agency goes through it.
Taylor: There were thousands of people that submitted an application for the Chicago show. What you do is you submit for one specific show that he’s doing. We sent ours for Chicago. The talent agency picks the top 10. Then they show the top 10 to Bon Jovi and he picks the person that wins. It’s already awesome that Bon Jovi has seen our band and chose us to be the opening act. We’re beyond excited for this.
What does this opportunity mean for the band?
Taylor: I hope it gives us the right boost. It could potentially be a big break for us, putting our music out there in front of that many people. Ultimately, our same goal is to become a national act. We play regionally right now and I’m hoping that this gig will get other gigs that are in Chicago and Colorado and all these other places around the United States so that we can make that dream come true.
Kaler: I think it’s justification for us and what we’ve been doing and working toward for the past six years. We’ve been working hard and it’s paying off for us. All of the blood, sweat and tears we’ve put into this is paying off.
Taylor: It seems like a pipe dream for a bunch of 13-year-olds to say they want to be rock stars, but then when you get an opportunity like this it’s… crazy. We’re on the right track.
What do you think of the band’s growth over the years?
Taylor: We work really hard for what we’re doing. We get together once a week and we practice for two hours. Sometimes we get together two times a week. We do a lot of stuff on the side to make sure that we have these opportunities and that we’re prepared for them when they come. Our managing company has been awesome. Since we’ve been working with them, other opportunities have come up. All of us are really dedicated to what we want to do. That means being heavily involved in social media and self-promoting yourself and doing all those different things to give yourself the best chance you have to make it.
Knowing that you’re going to be playing on the same stage as Bon Jovi, are you guys nervous at all?
Taylor: Not right now. Not nervous at all. We haven’t been given much time to really freak out about it. We have enough time to prepare for it and get everything on track and in order for the show.
Do you have any goals or things you want to accomplish during this show?
Kaler: Play the best show we ever played in our lives.
Taylor: With that many people there, I think we’re going to go nuts. Like I said, we are beyond excited to be sharing our music and playing originals in front of that many people and just getting the opportunity to share what we’ve created with other people. It’s very cool for us.
Kaler: Yeah I think if we focus on playing a really great show and make sure it’s the best we’ve ever done and making sure everything is on fire, then that will take care of anything else we could ever hope to accomplish.
What are you looking forward to the most about this upcoming show?
Taylor: I’m looking forward to meeting Bon Jovi.
Kaler: Being in front of 23,000 people.
Taylor: That number is so crazy. When we thought about it, Andy Grammer was 3,000 people and that was huge for us. Being backstage was so cool and getting to meet him was so cool. This is 20,000 more than that, so this is out of this world.