First to Eleven may be a YouTube cover band, but they’re not what you’d expect. With local roots in Erie, Pennsylvania their popularity grew over a decade, spanning multiple continents via the Internet. Vocalist Audra Miller, guitarist Matt Yost, drummer Sam Gilman, and music-teacher-turned-bassist Ryan Krysiak formed a band that originally posted covers to boost exposure and get onto the Warped Tour stage. From there, things kept rolling, and before they knew it, they had over 1.5 million YouTube subscribers.
With the advent of more specialized social media platforms (like the ever-popular TikTok that allows the band to gauge follower interests with new cover samples), First to Eleven has nowhere to go but up. Some of my favorite covers include “Barracuda” by Heart, as well as “My Happy Ending” by Avril Lavigne, but there are around 300 amazing covers to choose from. It was great to chat with them about both the artistry and business side of things after attending their electric live show in Boston last month, as well as the odd phenomenon of why rock versions of Taylor Swift songs always get the most attention.