Interview with I Prevail clean vocalist Brian Burkheiser | By Natasha Van Duser
Most people probably remember I Prevail from their 2014 cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” They dropped a reimagined screamo rock version of the pop starlet’s 1989 hit single for Punk Goes Pop Vol. 6 and blew up almost overnight—all thanks to a song they didn’t write. But for I Prevail, that was all part of the plan. “The whole concept of doing that cover was actually just to get exposure,” clean vocalist Brian Burkheiser says. “It worked out perfectly for us, because a lot of people heard the cover and liked it so much that they went out and checked out our original content.”
Though I Prevail may have been a little sneaky about getting into the public eye, it definitely proved to be an effective tactic. The “Blank Space” cover achieved such massive success due to I Prevail’s impeccable capability of blending clean and unclean vocals evenly through pop choruses laid over rock riffs—a style heavily used to shape the majority of their own music. With an EP, 2014’s Heart Vs. Mind, under their belt to prove their musical worth, I Prevail are now looking forward to climbing the charts in earnest with their upcoming debut LP, Lifelines, out on Oct. 21 through Fearless Records.
“I think with Lifelines, many will come to find there’s not one set sound when you listen to it,” Burkheiser explains. “We vary from hard rock songs to pop punk songs to even pop influences on this album.” I Prevail come swinging out of the gate like A Day To Remember 2.0, combining harsh metalcore vocals and riffs with more melodic cleans and catchy choruses. While the boys in the band are just starting out their careers, they’re putting effort into their writing like old-school veterans. “I think we just really tried to find that perfect balance,” Burkheiser continues. “First and foremost, we want to be known as a rock band, but we also want to be able to break all of those different influences in those different types of genres into our music.”
There isn’t a set theme on Lifelines: the writing just goes wherever the band’s experiences have taken them, making the record feel genuine to the band’s members and relatable to the fans. Listeners can find solace in the uplifting single, “Scars,” or let their “I told you so” anger thrive with heavy hitters like “Come and Get It.” There’s even a radio-friendly pop jam called “One More Time” that even non-metal fans will enjoy. “When we came up with the I Prevail name, it really is a name to represent positivity,” Burkheiser says. “So, lyrically, I think the content on this album varies a lot, but I think listeners will enjoy knowing that, no matter what kind of emotion they are feeling, they should be able to turn on any one of the songs on this album and be able to get that emotion they’re looking for.”
Lifelines boasts 12 brand new tracks, but also revisits the EP’s most memorable moment, “My Heart I Surrender,” a confused, infatuation-based love song told through an acoustic guitar. “‘My Heart’ just had such a great reaction on the EP,” Burkheiser notes. “I really wanted to rerecord my vocals, and I know the guitarists and I wanted to kind of add a couple things that they didn’t get to do on that song last time. So, I think it was just one of those things that hit home with our fans so much and was such a successful song off the EP that we thought that, if this album does what we hope it does and kind of blows up, this will be one where people can hear ‘My Heart I Surrender’ right off the bat, a more polished version.”
I Prevail’s success is already mounting, as evidenced by their recent headlining tour and fall stint supporting scene powerhouses, Pierce The Veil. While fans probably shouldn’t expect more Tay Swift covers to drop anytime soon, they can get excited for all the new, refined content I Prevail have set in motion on Lifelines.