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Taylor Swift cover put local rockers on the map

By Gary Graff
Digital First Media/GraffonMusic on Twitter

» See more SOUND CHECK

When I Prevail released its hard rocking cover of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" on Dec. 1, the group was hoping to get 5,000-10,000 views to get some attention for the brand new band, according to singer Brian Burkheiser.

Six and a half million looks later, the Oakland County-based quartet can consider that mission more than accomplished.

"It's just through the roof says Burkheiser, 21, a Rochester resident who put I Prevail together after leaving his previous band, Until The End. I Prevail has just launched its first national tour, which includes a sold-out show Friday, March 20, at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac.

"The roller coaster hasn't fallen off yet," he adds. "And it's been a mix of everybody. We've had a lot of Taylor Swift crossovers; quite a few of her fans tweeted us saying they enjoyed our cover, which was a real eye-opener to see pop fans adapt to a rock cover. And there are plenty of people too who are from our side of things, the harder rock fans.

"The variety of interactions has been nuts" -- though Burkheiser notes that Swift herself has not weighed in despite the cover's popularity.

The best news for I Prevail, however, is that many of those who came for "Blank Space" are also checking out the group's original music. "Love, Lust and Liars" from the band's debut EP, "Heart vs. Mind," has been viewed nearly a million times. A record label deal is currently being finalized, and the quartet -- plus to additional touring musicians -- will be on the road throughout the spring and summer.

"People have really latched on," reports Burkheiser, who was a Domino's pizza delivery driver before "Blank Space" took off. "They really liked the sound of the Taylor Swift cover and had enough interest to stay with our original material," which mixes his clean, melodic vocals with Eric Vanlerbeghe's harsh growls.

"My influences, at least going into this, were Bring The Horizon, A Day To Remember, We Came As Romans. I knew I couldn't scream, but I've always been a fan of that mixture of screaming and singing. It always intrigued me, so I ended up finding Eric. We just wanted to go for a sound that reaches many people, so we have the songs that lean towards the heavier side but we also have songs like our ballad 'My Heart I Surrender,' which is almost all acoustic."

I Prevail will continue to refine that mix as it prepares to record its first full-length album with "Heart Vs. Mind" producer BJ Perry in Riley, Mich. Burkheiser says the group is hoping to have it finished and released before the end of the year.

I Prevail, Chasing Safety, Rumours and Boys of Fall

Friday, March 20. Doors open at 6 p.m.

The Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac.

Tickets are sold out.

Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.

Web Site: www.thecrofoot.com

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