IF YOU GO

What: Under The Sun Tour

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 5. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Where: Sky Ute Casino, 14324 Colorado 172 Ignacio, Colo.

Tickets $25-100 on skyutecasino.tix.com/

Farmington — Matt Scannell grew up in a musical family. His parents were singers and instilled the love of music into their children.

"I think of it almost like an appendage," Scannell said. "It's part of my body."

He picked up the guitar when he was around 7 years old, about 36 years ago. Now Scannell is the lead singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer for Vertical Horizon, a pop-rock band.

Vertical Horizon will be playing alongside Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Gin Blossoms and Fastball on July 5 at Sky Ute Casino as part of the Under The Sun national tour.

Music was the only thing Scannell ever dreamed of doing as a career, however, knowing that it is difficult to make it in the musical word, he enrolled in Georgetown University, where he got a degree in psychology. While in college, he started Vertical Horizon.

Around that time, his band produced "There and Back Again," a self-released debut album. They had around 1,000 copies made.

"We'd thought we'd be giving them out to our grand kids," Scannell said.

However, within a couple of months, they'd sold every copy.

From there, the band kept experiencing more and more success.

Scannell's background in psychology has seeped its way into the band's music.

"The way that we think and feel fascinated me and continues to fascinate me," Scannell said.

One of his songs is called "You're A God." The song talks about how people place others in positions of power above them and how these people need to take that power away and not acknowledge them as better.

Scannell said psychology "teaches you your truths can be whatever you want them to be."

Scannell said that by changing the way they perceive things, people can change how things are.

"If you're feeling sad, you just have to do actions that make you happy," Scannell said.

Vertical Horizon's real breakthrough was with the song "Everything You Wanted," which was released in 1999, about seven years after their debut album.

Scannell said the song "Everything You Wanted" was written based on his own life experience.

"I was in love with a friend and she didn't see me as anything but a friend," Scannell said.

Scannell said he felt as if he was screaming on the sidelines for her attention. However, nothing ever happened between them. Nor does she know that she was the inspiration behind the band's first hit song.

"I've never told her and I never will," Scannell said.

The song changed Scannell's life. For the first time his music "did more than just serve an emotional purpose." Vertical Horizon started playing at larger venues and some of the pressures the band had felt were eased.

Eventually, Scannell decided to leave the major record companies and start his own label. He said in the last decade there has been a fundamental change in the recording industry due to digital technology. The change has led to less need of major label contracts.

Scannell said breaking the ties with major recording companies has enabled the band to have a more "one on one relationship between the band and the fans."

However, the independence has also presented a few challenges. Where Vertical Horizon used to have departments of people to handle jobs, now they have to make sure those jobs are done.

The band is releasing its newest album, "Echoes from the Underground" this fall.

The title name comes from a line in the song "Evermore."

The song is written from the perspective of someone who is lying in bed next to the person they love, however they sense that there is a distance there and they are losing them.

Scannell said the word echoes conveys a sense of past, but also a sense of distance.

"It's about looking forward through the past," Scannell said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover.