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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Old Neon

Megan McGinnis

Old Neon is a band that makes hook-heavy pop-punk bursting with emotion and energy. Their new album is a super-fun listen, especially if you’re one of those folks that just can’t help but sing along. The song “Jumpstart” will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt like they’d never be in love again. The guys from Old Neon recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar.

Old Neon are:

Sean Atkins – guitar
Mike McInnes – guitar
Chris Homa – bass
Zach Pollack – drums
Drew Sipos – vocals

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

What’s your musical history up to this point?

Sean: I’ve been involved in music since early childhood, working within the local music scene in a variety of ways for most of my life.

Mike: I started playing sax in the elementary school band. After high school I began playing in pop-punk and adjacent bands in the area but put that on the back burner after student loan bills started piling up. Seeing State Champs at Four Chord Music Festival 7 in 2021 inspired me to find an outlet to music like Old Neon’s again.

Chris: I played trombone and did musical theater when I was a kid, then started playing guitar when I was 16. Started playing bass primarily in 2019 to old Nas and Commodores songs and it kind of just became my favorite. Most people try bass before guitar I guess. Helps that I already loved the styles that feature it, which there is so much to go through as far as fun songs to play bass on.

Zach: I started teaching myself to play drums around 10 years old, just noodling around on a kit that belonged to my brother. I found I had a knack for it, and was able to start learning some songs by ear. After about 15 years of just playing drums for myself and never being in a band, I joined Old Neon.

Drew: Lifelong musician. I’ve been in bands since middle school, produced and mixed records for other artists, sang in acapella groups in college, choir, musical theater, live sound engineer, private gigs as a vocalist for things like weddings and parties. Dang I gotta update my LinkedIn lol.

How do you describe your sound? 

Sean: I would describe us as a pop band, catchy, fun hooks with some loud guitars

Tell us more about the song “Jumpstart.” What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?  

Mike: I like songs that translate to a high energy performance live, so that was some of the jumping off point (no pun intended) for this one. It’s very much a power pop song in the vein of The Starting Line or Sugarcult. The chorus might be the oldest idea on the record given that it’s something I started writing a long time ago with my then current band. I thought the hook worked well but the rest of the song never really fell into place. When I started playing with Old Neon I tossed it into the ring as an idea to work on and the guys all pitched in to bring it back to life in a big way.

Zach: I hadn’t yet been a part of writing a song from scratch – to this point I was re-writing and recording drum parts to completed songs the band already had in it’s collective pocket. For me, “Jumpstart” represents a couple creative firsts and it’s special to me because of that. Seeing it develop and grow from the first writing session in Mike’s basement to now has been a treat.

Drew: “Jumpstart” was one of my favorites on this album to write. A true collaboration across time and space! I was tasked with writing the verses. It was cool to have a jumping off point for the song, everything I added had to elaborate on what the chorus had already set up.

Megan McGinnis

What was the first album that really changed your life?    

Sean: Nirvana "In Utero"

Mike: Blink 182 "Enema of the State"

Chris: Linkin Park "Hybrid Theory"

Zach: A Day to Remember "Homesick"

Drew: Jon Bellion "The Human Condition"

Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?  

Sean: overtheweather, Go for the Gold, Find Ethel, Heading North

Mike: Sunny Daze and the Weathermen, Tiny Wars, Sweat, For Those In Question

Chris: Mellowscape, Dissidente

Zach: Back Alley Sound, SUREFIRE, Mallory Run

Drew: Paging Dr. Moon, Moontown

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

Sean: Album release show is June 30 at Club Cafe, and catch us on Four Chord Music Festival, Aug. 12.

Mike: Pro-Set released a Mr. Rogers hockey card during the 91-92 NHL Season (celebrity captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins). I still have mine.

Chris: When I was a housekeeping manager, I counted the number of toilets I inspected after leaving the position it was around 53,000. That gig taught me to be pro labor class and I’ll never forget those principles.

Zach: I consider most things about me to be rather uninteresting and not worth sharing.

Drew: Add me on Only Fans if you want uncut video of me cleaning my feet with the sound on

Learn more about Old Neon here.

Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.