Scale the summit

Scale the Summit
New York in 2009.
Background information
Origin Houston, Texas, US
Genres Progressive metal, instrumental metal, progressive rock
Years active 2004–present
Labels Prosthetic Records
Members Chris Letchford
Mark Michell
Pat Skeffington
Travis Levrier
Past members Jordan Eberhardt

Scale the Summit is an American instrumental / progressive metal band based out of Houston, Texas. It formed in 2004 and signed to Prosthetic Records.[1] The band draws influences from other progressive acts such as Cynic and Dream Theater. However, unlike most other progressive metal bands, they have no vocalist and play instrumental music. The band gained notice as part of the Progressive Nation 2009 tour with Dream Theater, Zappa Plays Zappa and Bigelf.


Formation and early years

Chris Letchford and Travis Levrier grew up in the same neighborhood, but never played music together until 2004,[2] after they reconnected a few years earlier in a record store discussing a common interest, Between the Buried and Me.[3] The duo formed a metal band in Houston that had trouble finding a bass guitarist and drummer. Letchford was set to attend the Los Angeles Musicians Institute a year after the band's formation, and Levrier decided to attend as well. The duo mainly hoped to meet new people to join their band, reasoning that their chances of doing so would be highest there,[4] and after only a few months they met Jordan Eberhardt and Pat Skeffington, who joined on bass guitar and drums respectively.[5] They first noticed Skeffington when they saw him wearing a Between the Buried and Me T-shirt with drumsticks protruding from his backpack, and Eberhardt joined in response to an ad the trio placed on Myspace.[3][6] Reflecting on the experience, Letchford explained, "I still think to this day that it was just meant to be, as moving out to Los Angeles didn't guarantee anything. I think we all just crossed paths at the perfect time."[5]

Although the band played typical technical metal with a vocalist in Houston, Letchford and Levrier noted a change in their sound when they started writing again in Los Angeles.[5] After writing their first song, "Rode In on Horseback",[7] the duo realized the material sounded as if it was already complete, without being written for a singer, and so the duo dismissed the idea of finding another singer.[5] The duo took two years of classes at the Institute, where their new band recorded four songs on a demo and played shows around the town. To make it easier to pursue a career in the band, Letchford and Levrier convinced Eberhardt and Skeffington, whom they had never met before attending school, to move to Houston with them instead of basing the band in Los Angeles.[2] Letchford later explained that despite enjoying the area's natural beauty he felt the music scene in Los Angeles was too crowded and difficult to survive in.[8] The band's formation was temporarily threatened by Levrier finding work for a band called Into the Moat, which he considered joining permanently, but Letchford sent him a demo recording of the song "Omni" (a song that would appear on the band's debut album, Monument), and Levrier changed his mind. Into the Moat disbanded in spite of touring with acts such as Between the Buried and Me and The Black Dahlia Murder.[3] Levrier coined the name "Scale the Summit" when he perused a photography book and saw a picture titled "The Summit", and mentioned the name as soon as it came to mind; the group took the name immediately.[6]

Early releases

Scale the Summit's first release was a demo[9] that they personally handed-out at shows in limited quantities,[2] and their first album, Monument, was self-funded[5] and self-released.[8] Letchford was dismissive of the album's sound, which he considered inferior to those of the group's later albums as the group had had little experience in songwriting by that time and limited funds for the sessions.[5] They slowly started to gain attention from magazines such as Kerrang, Rock Sound and Amp. In 2009 they signed with Prosthetic Records and began working on their second album, Carving Desert Canyons. The release of the second album was extremely successful, earning the band a spot on the 2009 Progressive Nation Tour with Dream Theater.

In 2010, they toured North America in support of Between the Buried and Me, and recorded their third album, The Collective, which they released the following year. Also in 2011, the band toured with Periphery and Fair to Midland, The Human Abstract, Cynic, 3, Protest The Hero, Last Chance To Reason, Volumes, Structures, Rings of Saturn, and The Contortionist.

In April 2012, Jordan Eberhardt left the band, citing his reluctance to continue touring full-time; he was replaced by Mark Michell.[10]

In November 2012, Letchford announced that the band had started writing material for their next album, The Migration, which was released on June 11 the following year.[11]

Musical style

Scale the Summit maintain a professional standard of musicianship. Each member thoroughly rehearses his part of each song before the band enter the studio to record an album so they can record it immediately,[12] and during each live performance they play every song exactly as it was recorded.[13] Letchford estimates that most of the material remains the same between pre-recording rehearsals and during recording, even though the group do make alterations to the songs as they go sometimes.[12]

The band refer to their style of music "adventure metal",[5][9][4][6] a term which Letchford states originated from how listeners on the Musician's Institute campus told him and Levrier that they felt the music was taking them on a journey as they listened to it.[7] Until their first album was released, the band were often told to get a vocalist and that they would not survive without one,[9] but Letchford has admitted that even if there were auditioning vocalists who had exceptional talent, he and his bandmates were set against the idea of having a vocalist to the point that all prospective members for the position would be turned down.[7] Lacking a vocalist enables the band to transcend the verse-chorus-verse songwriting strategy that most bands with singers have to use to accommodate the lyrics,[14] but Letchford feels that writing music to be complete without vocals is more difficult.[4] Without ruling-out the possibility of side projects that have vocalists, Letchford has stated that Scale the Summit's own music will never feature such things as guest vocals.[4]

Mark Michell's recorded debut with the band was The Migration. Michell has a substantial understanding of music theory, in much the same way as departing bassist Jordan Eberhardt, and he also has perfect pitch, according to Letchford, which essentially gives him the same credentials as all four of the original band members, who pursued music majors in college.[12]

Song titles are usually selected after the songs are recorded; the band listen to the finished recording to see what kind of ideas it brings to mind, and name the song accordingly.[15][5] The process for song title selection can last a long time, as the group strive to ensure that each song is named appropriately.[5]


Main article: Scale the Summit discography
Title Details Peak chart positions
US Rock
US Heat
US Indie
Carving Desert Canyons
The Collective
  • Release date: March 1, 2011
  • Label: Prosthetic Records
  • Formats: CD, music download
The Migration
  • Release date: June 11, 2013
  • Label: Prosthetic Records
  • Formats: CD, music download
131 11 41 3 24
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Band members


  • Pat Skeffington – drums, percussion (2004-present)
  • Chris Letchford – 7 (previously 8) string guitar (2004-present)
  • Travis Levrier – 7 string guitar (2004-present)
  • Mark Michell – 6 string bass (2012-present)


  • Jordan Eberhardt - 6 string bass (2004-2012)


External links

  • Official website
  • Chris Letchford Official website
  • Official Facebook
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