A metal Cinderella story: Michigan-based band I Prevail nominated for two Grammys
This weekend will be a monumental moment for the Michigan-based band, I Prevail. When their album, "Trauma," came out last year, it became an instant chart-topper. Their single, "Bow Down" hit Billboard's Rock Top 10. Their band has been nominated for Best Metal Performance and Best Rock Album at this year's Grammy Awards ceremony.
Vocalists Brian Burkheiser and Eric Vanlerberghe recounted the obstacles they’ve overcome to grow into their stardom.
Burkheiser and Vanlerberghe met after being part of two different unsuccessful bands. Burkheiser met the band’s guitarist, Steve Menoian, on Bandmix, which is “like an eHarmony for musicians,” Vanlerberghe said.
Growing up in Michigan, the band members say they were fans of Linkin Park, Slipknot, and Eminem. Their appreciation for various musical styles is evident in the new album, as it combins elements of hip-hop, rock, and pop.
I Prevail became famous for their metal cover of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space," which launched the band into the limelight.
“We went from trying to DIY everything for a year, and kinda forming, then all of a sudden things blew up out of nowhere,” said Burkheiser.
At the end of a long tour in 2017, Burkheiser found out he had a vocal polyp after experiencing pain in his vocal cords. Doctors told him he had to step away from the microphone and get surgery.
“It was honestly a little traumatizing,” said Burkheiser.
After a long recovery, Burkheiser wasn't sure he wanted to keep singing. But with the support of the band he continued and began working on their second album, "Trauma."
Going into their sophomore record, they knew it would define them as a band and set them up for the future. They wanted it to be a true representation of their experiences.
“Going through all the different human emotions and laying out different songs for people to kind of channel whenever they are going through that moment in life where they need a song to get them through,” Burkheiser said.
One of the themes that informed the record was the loss of Vanlerberghe’s best friend who died by suicide. The song "Goodbye" addresses the tragic event and the pain that Vanlerberghe endured during that time.
“There were some times where I couldn’t even finish a line, it was hard. You start reliving that,” he said.
All the band members were committed to staying authentic while writing the album, and although they’ve been nominated for two Grammy Awards, that was not their goal.
“This is our favorite record, and this record is by far the most emotionally invested we’ve ever been into a piece of art. So if it did well, cool, if not, at least we put our all into it,” Burkheiser said. "With the numbers and how well it’s been reflected on with our fans, if you stay true to what you want to do, the possibilities are endless to see where you can go."
“We always had the ‘sky is the limit’ mentality, we just keep hustling there’s no end to it until we decide there’s an end to it,” Vanlerberghe said.
And if all that wasn't enough, this past Christmas, Burkheiser surprised his father with $50,000 to pay off his mortgage.
"That was a moment for me, that honestly I've been dreaming about for years and years and years," Burkheiser said. "My dad honestly was one of the very few supporters, and my mom too, but you know this band didn't have a lot of supporters when we started. But they always were there for us."
View this post on Instagram Tonight, I did something that I’ve been dreaming of for years. I was able to pay off my pops mortgage and get him one step closer to retirement. Dad, I love you more than words can express. You and mom have worked your asses off to give our family the world and supported me through all the highs and lows. At my lowest point when I was ready to leave I Prevail you pushed me to not let go of my dream and fight through the trauma. The least I can do now is try to pay you back for everything you’ve given me over this life. This will be a day I never forget :heart: A post shared by Brian Burkheiser (@brian.burkheiser) on Dec 24, 2019 at 9:02pm PST
The Grammy Awards ceremony is happening this Sunday night at 8 p.m. Eastern.
This post was written by production assistant Catherine Nouhan.