It seems only fitting that after six months, 7,000 bands and more than 100,000 votes, the winner of the Takeover Records “Sign My Band” contest would be determined by mere percentage points. And so on Christmas Eve, when the Internet polls closed and Pennsylvania’s Strike Fire Fall defeated the New York band Silhouette by the slimmest of margins – 52 percent to 48 percent – no one was really surprised.
“People don’t realize how many bands there are out there, how many kids there are in garages out there. And we’d like to think that this contest communicated to those kids,” Yellowcard guitarist (and Takeover Records’ owner) Ben Harper said. “And all these kids had strong opinions about which band they thought should win. So while the amount of votes blew our mind, we did know that this thing was going to be really close.”
By winning “Sign My Band,” Strike Fire Fall not only land a contract with Takeover Records, but also an opening slot on Yellowcard’s 2005 tour, and a merch deal with clothing label Hurley. It’s an opportunity big enough to make a bunch of college kids quit their day jobs and drop out of college… both of which members of Strike Fire Fall intend on doing.
“We started this band at Penn State in 2002, and we tried to play shows for anybody, any time. We would set up in a basement and play there,” Strike Fire Fall guitarist Chris Arotin said. “And now we get to open up for Yellowcard. We had said that if we won this contest, we’d quit our jobs and head out to the West Coast. So that’s what we’re going to do. When something like this happens, you’ve got to just go for it.”
Harper said he was so impressed by the response to the initial “Sign My Band” that he plans on launching a second one next summer at the Warped Tour. And in January, Takeover will release a compilation (tentatively titled Before We Were Signed ), featuring two songs by each of the contest’s 10 finalists.
“The good thing is that every band in this contest got exposure, and are going to get even more,” Harper said. “That was always the goal of the whole contest. There’s only one winner, but all the bands end up winning in some way.”