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a brief look-back of Think Harder: Louisville Metro Pop Punk

Think Harder band portrait (Louisville, Kentucky) Pop Punk
Think Harder: Louisville Metro Pop Punk

I just wanted to take a minute to make a nostalgia trip a decade back to appreciate Think Harder's prime. This will be just a little tid-bit - I intend to make a more formal and complete "History of Think Harder" post in the near future, but I think this will give some entertaining context and background about how Cyntrix Productions came to be.

Richard's bloody Finger during Think Harder's pop punk set at Uncle Slayton's (formerly Skull Alley) in Louisville, Kentucky.
Richard's bloody finger during Think Harder's set

Think Harder was started by Louisville-natives Richard Stottman, Matt Martin, Jacob Linde, and Burak Aslan around 2008 when they were in 7th grade. Richard, Matt, and Jacob were all friends who met at St. Matthews Elementary, and Burak became friends with Richard during middle school. The name is pretty obvious - we were trying to think of band names when someone said "just think harder" when we couldn't think of anything good. Everyone collectively looked around at each other like :O and it was decided.

What started as an excuse for a group of friends to hang out and make some noise eventually turned into something truly awesome. The original line-up was something like Jacob on vocals, Matt on bass, Richard on guitar, and Burak on drums. Fun Fact: the only reason Burak ended up being the drummer is because he could play expert drums on Rock Band, and Think Harder needed a drummer. Also, the main reason Jacob was the vocalist is because the group thought he had the attitude of a lead singer and the band really needed one.

Think Harder performing during Ramstock battle of the bands at Dupont Manual High School (Louisville, Kentucky) in 2011
Think Harder performing at Dupont Manual High School

Our first real show was actually opening for Bowling For Soup at the Mad Hatter right across the bridge from Cincinnati in Covington on January 19th, 2010. Needless to say, our set was a fiasco and I'm pretty sure we got cut early, but we didn't care. We had an absolute blast getting to perform with, meet, and talk to the other bands.

From there, we started getting serious about writing songs and playing shows. We recorded a very bad demo album called Greater Affection (that has since been scrubbed from the face of the Earth) and took any gig we could find. We played Bearno's by the Bridge, the mini-marathon, Ear X-tacy's Battle of the Bands, and even our friend's birthday parties. As we got more experience, we started harping Terry Harper to put us on his shows with national touring acts. We eventually got the privilege to open for bands like All Time Low, The Ready Set, He Is We, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, and even Twenty One Pilots!

Think Harder performing pop punk music at Uncle Slayton's (formerly Skull Alley) in Louisville, Kentucky
Think Harder performing at Uncle Slayton's (formerly Skull Alley)

It's around this time we found our guitarist, Anthony Valentine, and recorded our first "professional" release with Jordan Haynes at Earlygrayce Studios called Timelines & Transitions. I remember being absolutely blown away hearing our very first single "Who I Am". I remember freaking out how "it sounds like a REAL BAND!!!" It wasn't long after that point we inevitably crossed paths with the late Bryan Puckett of Little Heart Records who took us under his wing.

Becoming involved with Little Heart Records was an absolute game-changer. We were provided with every resource we needed to succeed. All of the sudden we were playing regular shows, meeting other local bands, had access to merch, music distribution, graphic designers, everything. Our following only grew until we were packing Spinelli's downtown so full that the fire marshal had to come out!

Think Harder band, hungover, about to perform at Six Flags in West Virginia
An very hungover band about to perform at Six Flags

My favorite memories were probably going on tour with Audiostrobelight, an LHR band from West Virginia who acted as mentors and helped guide us in the right direction. It was 2013, and we had all just graduated high school the evening before we set out for Maryland in the early hours of the next morning. We played all sorts of venues that week or two, including a couple very hungover couple of sets at a Six Flags amusement park. We were five 17 and 18-year olds packed tight in our bassist's nana's mini-van, playing shows in West Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland sleeping on the floors of our new friend's houses along the way.

Members of Think Harder and Audiostrobelight pose outside a fan's house who allowed them to stay the night in New Jersey
Think Harder and Audiostrobelight in New Jersey

We played a few more shows that summer before we all went off to college. We played our final show in May of 2015. To this day, we somehow still have 1500 monthly listeners on Spotify and people are still enjoying are music all over the world.

Luckily, I have backed up most of the data and footage from back in the day. There's some unreleased footage of our final show I'd like to put out, as well as a demo song we recorded at Audiostrobelight's studio while on tour we're thinking about releasing. Either way, some Think Harder goodies are on the horizon for some old school fans, so stay tuned.

Think Harder performing pop punk at Uncle Slayton's (formerly Skull Alley) in Louisville, Kentucky
Think Harder: Louisville Metro Pop Punk (photo by Kelli O[Toole)


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