At an age when most teens are first preparing to set foot on a college campus, Brad Skistimas was already inventing himself as an artist, both in name and in sound.
“I started playing guitar when I was 11 and then just played throughout high school,” said the singer-songwriter. “Pretty much right after high school, when I was 18, I kind of knew this was what I wanted to do. I started recording at home, making little homemade albums in my bedroom and selling them to my friends.”
Thus, Five Times August was born.
Skistimas, who performed on Tuesday in the Union, described the name of his one-man show as something that would hopefully stick in the minds of his fans.
“I was trying to think of a band name and my birthday is August 5, so I kind of just came up with Five Times August,” said the Dallas native. “I thought it would be easier to remember than having to spell out ‘Skistimas’ every time to somebody.”
The hour-long acoustic set included eight original songs written by Skistimas, as well as a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and two impromptu renditions of “Happy Birthday,” as requested by audience members.
“Something like today, where it’s earlier in the day and it’s an open area I try to pick more energetic songs….I have a list of songs in my head and roll with the punches,” Skistimas said.
Skistimas did just that, and was as easy-going as his music, joking with the audience between songs. Most of the band’s tunes, which had an upbeat, folksy sound similar to that of Jason Mraz, dealt with the successes, failures and sometimes general awkwardness that comes with falling in love.
Included in the set were “Better With You” and “Up to Me,” just two of several of the band’s songs that have been featured in TV shows like The Hills, Degrassi, Laguna Beach, and One Tree Hill.
Though Five Times August may not be at the forefront of pop culture as it was in the hey-day of MTV “reality” shows and teen melodramas, Skistimas said that he has been working on other projects, one of which is due to launch this April.
Skistimas, who is collaborating with his brother on the new endeavor, is looking to create a website that allows singer-songwriters to interact with their fans.
“Basically, fans of any certain artist can go and pre-order their next song, but the song hasn’t been recorded yet,” Skistimas said. “Anybody that pre-orders the song is entered in a drawing and then the song can actually be written, inspired by the fan.”
He hopes he will be able to use this new venture to help him with the next phase of his career, where he hopes fans will help inspire as he works to create a new album.
But before that, Skistimas is headed to play another show in Virginia before he returns home to Texas, back where it all began.
And while Five Times August has appeared a little bit quieter on the music scene as of late, Skistimas has no plans to put down the guitar that he picked up as a preteen any time soon.
“It’s been over 10 years now, but I’m still going at it. That’s a good thing.”