Scale the Summit

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Scale the Summit
From left to right, Travis Levrier, Jordan Eberhardt, Pat Skeffington, and Chris Letchford performing live in Brookhaven, New York in 2009.
Background information
Origin Houston, Texas, U.S.
Years active 2004–present
Labels Prosthetic
Members Chris Letchford
Mark Michell
J.C. Bryant
Past members Jordan Eberhardt
Pat Skeffington
Travis Levrier

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 is influenced by other progressive acts such as Cynic and Dream Theater. The band gained notice as part of the Progressive Nation 2009 tour with Dream Theater, Zappa Plays Zappa and Bigelf.


Formation and early years[edit]

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[edit]

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] In 2009 they signed with Prosthetic Records and began working on their second album, Carving Desert Canyons. Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater heard the band's music and invited them to tour with Dream Theater on the 2009 ProgNation Tour.[5]

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]

In March 2015, Pat Skeffington left the band and was replaced by J.C. Bryant, who wrote and recorded the drums for the band's upcoming fifth album,[12] titled V and due for a summer 2015 release.[13]

Musical style[edit]

Scale the Summit maintain a professional standard of musicianship. Each member thoroughly rehearses his part of each song before the band enters the studio to record an album so they can record it immediately,[14] and during each live performance they play every song exactly as it was recorded.[15] 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.[14]

The band refer to their style of music "adventure metal",[4][5][6][9] 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,[16] 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 which, according to Letchford, essentially gives him the same credentials as all four of the original band members, who pursued music majors in college.[14]

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.[5][17] The process for song title selection can last a long time, as the group strive to ensure that each song is named appropriately.[5]

Due to rhythmical complexity ("off-time chugs"), the use of extended range guitars, and the general "vibe", their music is often ascribed to be djent despite much of their material being "clean channel" which contradicts the early onomatopoeic etymology of the genre's name. [18]


Title Details Peak chart positions
US Rock
US Heat
US Indie
US Sales
Carving Desert Canyons
The Collective 39
The Migration 131 11 41 3 24
V 14 36 5 29 100
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Band members[edit]


  • Chris Letchford – guitar (2004–present)
  • Mark Michell – bass (2012–present)
  • J.C. Bryant - drums, percussion (2015-present)


  • Jordan Eberhardt - bass (2004-2012)
  • Pat Skeffington – drums, percussion (2004–2015)
  • Travis Levrier – guitar (2004–2016)



  1. ^ "Scale the Summit Signs With Prosthetic Records". 2007-12-07. Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  2. ^ a b c Anderson, John (April 2, 2011). "Guitar lessons, Interviews, Reviews, & More | Guitar Messenger - Chris Letchford & Travis LeVrier Interview (Scale The Summit)". Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Magnotta, Andrew (February 9, 2012). "Interview with Chris Letchford from Scale The Summit | The Aquarian Weekly". Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Interview: SCALE THE SUMMIT &#!24; All Metal Resource". December 16, 2008. Archived from the original on December 26, 2008. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Thaler, Dan (June 28, 2010). "Chris Letchford, Scale the Summit | Prog Sphere". Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Butler, Tyler (March 12, 2010). "Scale the Summit Interview: SXSW 2010 - Spinner". Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Gelhke, David E. "Scale The Summit Feature Interview At". Retrieved July 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Brown, Kimberly (March 31, 2011). "Hails and Horns - Scale The Summit - An Interview with Guitarist Chris Letchford". Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c "Interview with Scale the Summit - Alternative Matter « Your alternative to mainstream metal!". May 13, 2011. Archived from the original on May 18, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Scale the Summit announce new bassist | News: Kill Your Stereo". April 6, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ "The Migration Release Date". March 27, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Scale The Summit replaces drummer". Lambgoat. March 17, 2015. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Scale The Summit Reveal New Album Title". The PRP. March 23, 2015. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  14. ^ a b c Westland, Raymond (June 9, 2013). "Instrumental Migrations - An Interview With Scale The Summit | Ghost Cult Magazine". Retrieved July 23, 2013. 
  15. ^ Gelhke, David E. "Scale The Summit Feature Interview At Part 2". Retrieved July 24, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Interview with Chris Letchford of Scale the Summit - Interviews | KZSC Santa Cruz". July 7, 2010. Retrieved July 25, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Chris Letchford of Scale the Summit: The Heavy Blog Is Heavy Interview - Heavy Blog Is Heavy". December 23, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Periphery interview part 3 of 3." FreethinkersBlog. 19 Feb. 2012. Web. 28 Aug. 2013. <>.
  19. ^ "Scale the Summit - Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Scale the Summit - Chart History (Hard Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Scale the Summit - Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Scale the Summit - Chart History (Heatseekers)". Billboard. Retrieved July 23, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Scale the Summit - Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Scale the Summit - Chart History (Top Album Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved October 21, 2015. 

External links[edit]