Midwest Skies releases new album

Courtesy / Midwest Skies

Courtesy / Midwest Skies

Shelby Pendowski

The fears of attending college haunt all students. Affording tuition, picking a good professor or liking
a roommate all come to mind. The members of Midwest Skies quickly received a sense of relief when
the trio found themselves as roommates at Grand Valley State University. Since then, the rest is

Vocalist James Johnson, guitarist Ryan Ykimoff and drummer Josh Jones—who have since graduated
from GVSU—felt the resistance that faces any new band. The doubts of others, however, did not sway
the determination of Midwest Skies. The band members didn’t think it was opposition they faced, but
disregard. It was this disregard that fueled them to shadow the negativity with positivity, Jones said.

The bumps they have faced along the road to their new album, “Wish You Were Here,” which debuted
Sept. 21, have developed into stressful situations; however, they brought memories along with them.

“We don’t see the things that we run into as obstacles much more as we see them as opportunities to
prove that we still want to be playing together and that we don’t see ourselves as done or too old for
this,” Ykimoff said.

The trio began the recording amid tragedy: they returned to an underwater Grand Rapids around the
same time as the Boston Marathon bombing. “We half-heartedly joke that we left Grand Rapids and
the world fell apart,” Ykimoff said. “So a lot of the time we were watching the news on the TV in the
studio…It opened us up in a new creative way to new weaknesses, to new fears that we have.”

The inspiration from these moments, as well as the moments during and following their college years,
helped form the songs on the album. “Wish You Were Here” is a thank you and send off to all the
people who have helped the band along the way, the members said. The logo of the downtown skyline
helped them decide on the album name, as the gravity of home always attracts them back.

“We wish we could show everyone the pure joy we get out of going on tour and doing shows because
these people helped us to obtain those goals,” Ykimoff said.

The new album is a reflection of the members’ lives after college, but the new music came with a new
recording experience. This was the first time each member was able to be present for the recording,
Ykimoff said.

“In our previous two EPs, we all either had 40-hour-week work schedules, or we had classes when we
all weren’t here so we were never all together,” Ykimoff said. “It was always James was alone or there
were two of us…being able to collaborate and being able to be together, that made a huge difference
in the quality of what we were doing.”

Their first appearances at The Pyramid Scheme is just the beginning for these GVSU Alumni; they are
looking toward the future and plan to keep pursuing their dreams, but the Midwest skies will bring
them back home every time.

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