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Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Alternative Punk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Cliffhanger Release New Lyric Video"

Our old Artist Of The Month Cliffhanger have released a new lyric video! Check it out by clicking “Read More” below. - Restless Press


Cliffhanger are a group of dudes with a dream and a definite plan to get there. Jordan Benker (vocals), Mike Licari (drums), Mike Centracco (guitar), and Trevor Utz (bass) all come from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Some of the names might suggest mafia activity (you never know), but those are actually the names of 4 dudes who love pop-punk and want to share it with the world. Though they’ve only been around for a short while, they’ve gotten far in the 9 months they’ve been working their hardest. This band traces influences from old and new pop punk, creating a fresh sound while retaining their roots. Once you hear their sounds, you’ll be wondering why they haven’t been discovered yet yourself!

(Lyric Video for "City Skyline" by Cliffhanger)

Early last month, the band released their lyric video for the song “City Skyline“, created by bassist Utz. The song features catchy riffs on behalf of Centracco, clean, clear vocals by Benker, drums that keep an upbeat pace by Licari, and lyrics that almost perfectly capture the energy of a packed show. The layout of the words appear like city buildings, adding to the effect. Their EP also features songs such as “They Used To Call Me ‘Anal Girl’” (a quirky 500 Days of Summer reference) and “Bruises and Sabotage”. The EP was recorded with Michael Goavere, previous member of now-defunct Detroit pop-rock band Every Avenue. You can hear a small bit of influence from the band’s early work.

So there’s the lowdown on Cliffhanger. You can pick up their EP, “Just Ignite,” on iTunes. You can also listen to it on SoundCloud and Spotify. Stay tuned for an interview with them later!

Last but not least, to quote their Facebook:

“With professionalism, talent, and hard work, CLIFFHANGER aims to be a heavy presence in the Chicago pop punk scene.” - Pop Punk World

"Cliffhanger – Just Ignite EP"

“With experienced members from various notable Chicago bands, CLIFFHANGER has come together to create a unique mix of old and new pop punk”, a piece taken from the bands Facebook page; suggests that the road has not been easy for Cliffhanger. Made up of four band members, Jordan Benker (vocals); Mike Licari (drums); Mike Centracco (guitar) and Trevor Utz (bass), which all hail from Chicago. However, they’ve arrived now, so let’s take a look at their debut EP “Just Ignite”.

Released on the 7th May 2013, and containing three songs entitled “City Skyline”; “They Used To Call Me “Anal Girl”” and “Bruises and Sabotage”, the EP lasts just short of 10 minutes.

The opening track “City Skyline” features a neat lyric video, which was how we came across the band, of the lyrics of the song being displayed as a city skyline; through skyscrapers popping up throughout the video with the lyrics upon them. An imaginative idea. Now, onto the song. There’s no messing around when it comes to the opening song. It starts quickly, featuring a nice beat by drummer Mike Licari and catchy lyrics that you’ll be singing along to in no time. The song is well thought out, featuring a cool bridge before going back into the chorus. Track 2 “They Used To Call Me “Anal Girl”” carries on where track 1 left off. Once again starting in a similar fast paced style, except this time the pace is held up throughout the song. Reminds us of a fresh Green Day of old (if that makes sense?!), which is good. Exactly what the band promised in their Facebook bio, “unique mix of old and new pop punk”, track 2, for us, is exactly that. Track 3 is quickly upon us, “Bruises and Sabotage”. The aspect we take and like the most from track 3 is the guitar work from Centracco, it’s clever and intricate. Another aspect we like from “Bruises and Sabotage” is the bridge; where Benker sings over a bass line before the song and vocals burst back into life. A very good song and one to look out for.

Overall, Cliffhanger are a welcome addition to the pop punk scene and we feel that they have delivered on their own statement of a “unique mix of old and new pop punk”. As is the case with EP’s, you are left wanting more and we look forward to hearing what Cliffhanger have to offer; a ballad of some kind?

“I won’t sit back so silently”, lyrics taken from opening track “City Skyline” could not be more apt here; we expect Cliffhanger to be making some noise in a place near you soon!

Watch their video for “City Skyline” here –

Download the EP off iTunes here – - Simply Pop Punk - All Things Pop Punk

"CLIFFHANGER- Just Ignite (EP Review)"

CLIFFHANGER are a Chicago based pop punk band that have recently emerged onto the scene with their EP JUST IGNITE. The first thing that comes to mind when checking out the dudes in CLIFFHANGER's EP is that it is severely underrated! With only 120 likes on their Facebook page, and the release of an EP at this standard they should be supporting the likes of NEW FOUND and The Story So Far already! But onto what they actually sound like, a three song EP that blends the nostalgic-ness and fun of old school drive thru records bands with the hard edge of The Story So far, and moshy fast paced beats of The Wonder Years. Gang vocals and infectious guitar riffs are a plenty in first song CITY SKYLINE which gives a more old school vibe than the other two tracks until the breakdown that is, where i'm sensing some more Easycore influence (not over the top though...). Second song THEY USED TO CALL ME (ANAL GIRL) is my personal favourite track, made up of a fast paced drum beat and lyrics that remind me of Blink-182 or Sum 41. This song is quick paced the whole way through and i imagine would be so much fun to see live. The middle 8 section where it breaks down a bit has a beautifully catchy guitar riff, that i really feel like learning! Final song BRUISES AND SABOTAGE closes out the EP on a bang! straight in with a half time beat on the drums and a Fall Out Boy-esq guitar riff which is extremely pleasing to the ears. The song closes out with a Man Overboard style gang chant to close off this brilliant debut EP from CLIFFHANGER. I can't stress this enough but this band really deserve to be heard, this music is so catchy it needs to be heard by thousands of people! Everyone go check out CLIFFHANGER ASAP!

For Fans Of:
The Story So Far
New Found Glory
the Starting Line
( this was a hard one to decide) - Pop Punk News & Reviews


Recently, I did a piece on Cliffhanger, a local Chicago pop punk band on the move. I interviewed them last night, and they’re all hilarious, so I suggest you check this out! Read up as we discuss their new EP, using the internet to promote, Lil B, intense mosh pits, celebrity crushes (I’m talking to you, Jennifer Aniston), and more!

Sidenote: Jordan was in the interview for a short time before we assume he conked out due to strep throat. Tell him to get well on Twitter!

PPW: Would you mind introducing yourselves and telling us a fact about you that we should know?

Jordan: I’m Jordan and I play guitar and I have never eaten sushi. Hashtag important facts.

Mike: Hi, my name is Mike and I play rhythm guitar in Cliffhanger. I started Cliffhanger with Jordan back in 2011 after I graduated from NIU.

Trevor: I’m Trevor and I sing vocals and play bass guitar and I am a proud vegetarian.

Mike: We’re missing our drummer Mike Licari from this interview, but I’m sure he would say he’s straight edge.

PPW: You guys just released an EP pretty recently. Tell us about it.

Jordan: It was an interesting first for me because there was so much artistic input from all of us individually in the writing process.

Mike: We released our debut EP “Just Ignite” on May 7, 2013. We’re very excited about it! Since 2011, Jordan and I had a handful of songs we were working on but didn’t have the complete band. Once we had the full lineup in September 2012, we shaped the songs to fit our influences and create a sound that we enjoyed playing. After a few months, we took three songs and went to Downbeat Studio in Chicago to record with Michael Govaere (ex-drummer of Every Avenue). We were thrilled with how they came out because it has influence of both new and old pop punk. We had our songs mastered by Alan Douches (West West Side Music) who mastered various big name bands. Since then, we released the EP and are looking for anyone and everyone to listen to it.

Trevor: It was really amazing to see our songs come to life from just playing in the basement of our drummer Mike’s house. Our producer Michael Govaere really put some magic on it, but the songs really had the raw feeling that they started with. I love that aspect of the EP. We’ve been sitting on them for a while; so it was nice to see them out there and getting heard finally.

PPW: How was it working with Michael Goavere? Did he add any of his Every Avenue influence to the EP?

Trevor: He actually didn’t add too much of his old band to it. I think he’s on to different things musically. He tries to see the project for what it is and experiment with new things. The funniest part in the studio was dealing with so many Mikes at the same time. (Mike our drummer, Mike the producer, and Mike the guitarist)

Jordan: Great working with a producer who has experience being in a band, there’s that shared feeling of direction and I’m sure that definitely helped him piece together this EP with us.

Mike: Working with Michael was awesome! He’s a super cool guy and really down to earth. After telling him the kind of sound we wanted, he knew exactly how to make it sound great on the recordings. I think the only Every Avenue influence he added to our songs was having experience with the older pop punk type sound we wanted to have. He also really likes gummy bears.

Trevor: Yeah, it was fun being in the studio with him. We bonded over Breaking Bad and a couple of other shows. It was just a fun experience.

PPW: What bands would you say influence you the most, as far as Cliffhanger goes?

Trevor: I think the beauty of the band — at least for me — is that we are really split half and half. I THINK that me and Jordan are more pop influenced. I sing some Summer Set and All Time Low with him, whereas Mike and Mike both seem to stem from the “punker” side- bands like Hit the Lights, New Found Glory, MxPx are just some that come to mind. I think we really combine in the middle of the two sides to get a good pop-punk mix.

Mike: Well, we all have similar interests but like various bands. We each bring a wide aspect of influence to the tables. I think old Hit The Lights, Rufio, City Lights, and Four Year Strong were playing a lot on my end when we were writing the songs.

Trevor: We balance each other out. Lately too many bands are just either SUPER PUNK or SUPER POP. I think the beauty is in the combination of it.

PPW: Okay, so, whose idea was it to name the song “They Used To Call Me ‘Anal Girl’”?

Mike: So… That was my idea.

PPW: It’s a reference of sorts, I hear?

Trevor: I really honestly don’t know. Mike tells me it was his, but I watch that movie every day so it could have been either of us. I had some REALLY dumb long names for that song. I think he was making fun of me, and the drummer Mike was like that’s rad. They outnumbered me. I still get odd looks for it. People either love it or hate it.

Mike: I enjoyed that part in “500 Days of Summer” where Summer mentioned her old nickname. I never expected it to be the final name of the song, but when I mentioned it to the band, they were all on board and it stuck. I know Trevor really wanted a long song name so I found the Anal Girl quote.

PPW: What’s your personal favorite song of yours to play?

Mike: My personal favorite song to play of ours off of Just Ignite is “City Skyline.” That was the first complete song Jordan and I wrote and it’s what kept me wanting to keep playing with him and grow the band.

Trevor: We have some new ones which I am REALLY stoked about. The newest ones were really all of us building a song ground up. Some bands write by one person throwing a completed song at the band and expecting everyone to play what they want. The new songs really have everyone adding to the songs and making them grow. But off the new EP, Iwould say Bruises and Scars now. It used to be my LEAST favorite, but it’s a song that gives off this weird live vibe that I love.

PPW: You claim to use a lot of professionalism and I see a lot of you went to college and whatnot. Do you think this helps you in the music scene?

Trevor: I love this question. Yes to professionalism. I think as independent artists, you HAVE to be the most professional and creative as you can. There is no room to be lazy anymore. You have to be putting your best foot forward at all times. The days of the rockstar life is over for smaller bands. If you want to get recognized you have to put in the time and effort. College and jobs have taught me to approach things systematically. It’s just the mature mindset that is so crucial.

Mike: I think it has so far. We’ve worked with some great people and we don’t want to burn bridges with anyone. You never know who you’ll be working with in the future. There’s a lot that goes on behind the songs you hear online or wherever and if we want to continue doing that, it’s nice to maintain those relationships.

PPW: What method of promotion do you think have helped you the most?

Trevor: We have been trying to use every outlet we have. I can’t choose a most helpful because we are so new. We use Twitter to follow fans and we love doing interviews such as this to get the music out there. It’s too early to say which one is working the most. We’re going to try each and every way to reach people. The internet is great because there are so many places people are checking in to. We just need to find which ones.

Mike: We also go to show up to local shows and meet people and spread the word there too. We also go to local shows and meet people and spread the word there.

Trevor:We actually passed out CDs at the Cartel concert last Sunday. That was a nice way to actually meet real people and make some tangible connections.

PPW: Time for the fun questions! Do you have any silly fear? Spiders, birds, Furbeez, etc.?

Trevor: I LOVE SPIDERS. I don’t kill bugs because I’m a pacifist.

Mike: I wouldn’t say Furbeez is a silly fear. It’s a scary fear.

Trevor: I can’t think of any off the top of my head, now that you mention Furbeez, though…

Mike: I don’t like squirrels though. They always follow me when I go outside.

Trevor: Squirrels are fucking cute. I’m afraid of Wonder Years fans.

PPW: Aww, why?

Trevor: Kidding! But seriously, they can be intense. Have you ever been to a mosh pit for The Wonder Years? I was exhausted by the end of it.

Mike: It’s intense.

PPW: What is the weirdest or most surprising song you have on your iPod?

Trevor: I have too many embarrassing songs on my iPod to count. I would say my taste in music is weird. I have random pop songs from the late 90s. I still rock out to “That’s How I Beat Shaq” by Aaron Carter too much for my tastes.

Mike: Blue by Eiffel 65.

Trevor: Oh my god, we listened to that in Chicago. It was weird bumping that with the windows down. I listen to too much gangster rap as well. Lil B is my man. Actually Lil B is the weirdest thing I have on my iPod! My mom thinks I’m insane for listening to it all the time. His positivity is unreal. My friends really can’t get into that one.

PPW: Do you thank Based God when needed?

Trevor: My friends really can’t get into that one. I thank Based God every morning before work. His swag has made me a little less of a white boy. Mike [Licari]’s gonna kill me for these answers.

PPW: What music have you been jamming lately other than that?

Mike: I’ve been listening to City Lights and Turnover a lot recently.

Trevor: I have been on a big Simple Planand Good Charlotte kick out of nowhere. I listen to Mac Miller and Kanye’s new album. I just re-listened to Patent Pending and love their sound for the second time around. The Maine’s new album was cool. Fall Out Boy’s new album is still bumping in my car. Hollywood Ending has some good new stuff as well. Whatever isn’t on the radio.

Mike: I also have been listening to Handguns, Kid Liberty, Carousel Kings, Major League and Blink-182… Always Blink-182.

PPW: Would you say any of you are obsessed with a certain celebrity, crush or not?

Trevor: Demi Lovato hands down, or any girl with a guitar on. Lzzy Hale from Halestorm. I have a poster of Jennifer Aniston hung in my room if that’s obsessed or not. I really honestly believe I will marry Jennifer Aniston. She’s so pop punk. Any girl next door actress is very pop punk. I wrote a couple love songs to Jennifer. She never answered. The struggle of being a local musician.

PPW: Any last words to the readers & fans?

Mike: First, thank you for taking the time to interviewing us and getting to know us a little bit more and thanks to Pop Punk World for supporting it! Secondly, thank you for taking the time to read this interview. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on upcoming shows and future music releases. We’re planning to have a productive 2013 and 2014 and would to have each of you hear it and support us along the way! Always defend pop punk.

Trevor: Stay tuned for new tunes. We love all the support we’ve been getting for everyone. We have some big announcements coming up. Keep listening to pop punk and follow Pop Punk World on all social networks!

Follow the dudes and check out their tunes!



Trevor’s Twitter: @datratchettrevy

Mike’s Twitter: @BoomerODoyle

Jordan’s Twitter: @JordanBenker

MIA Mike’s Twitter: @mikelicari - Pop Punk World


Check out this week’s featured independent artist: Cliffhanger
Based from the western suburbs of Chicago, Cliffhanger is a four piece pop punk band with vast amounts of energy. Though only about a year old, the members of the group came from other bands in Chicago, and started their time together with hard work. They collaborated with Michael Govaere, a previous member of Every Avenue, to release their debut EP, Just Ignite. It is available now on iTunes, Spotify, and other outlets. Check them out on their facebook: here, and you can watch the lyric video for their song “City Skyline” below: - Restless Press

"Unsung Heroes :: Cliffhanger"

More than ever, pent-up aggression has become a cornerstone of pop punk. Vocals are gruffer, instrumentation is more furious and complex, and lyrics are more pointed. There's nothing wrong with this, but it's always nice to hear bands that draw that back a bit and make more of what can be considered “classic” pop punk at this point. Cliffhanger is one such band that just released its debut EP, Just Ignite. The EP is only three songs, but the title is completely accurate. The band ignites some excitement for what's to come with catchy hooks, a talented vocalist, and a whole lot of energy. Cliffhanger melds both sides of the genre together exceedingly well, echoing traits of bands like Taking Back Sunday and All Time Low and seamlessly swapping between the two. You should definitely give these guys a shot, especially since the EP is so short. It's a quick, enjoyable listen and I'm interested to see where Cliffhanger goes from here. - Neck Deep Media

"POZ Showcase: Cliffhanger"

Mixing the old with the new, Cliffhanger aims to revive Chicago’s pop punk scene with their western suburban angst. This year, the band ranked no. 7 on Pop Punk World’s Top 20 Unsigned Bands. Cliffhanger’s debut EP Just Ignite was released last May and is available on iTunes.

POZ Showcase: Cliffhanger
by Zack Zarrillo - Oct 20, 201310 notes


Mixing the old with the new, Cliffhanger aims to revive Chicago’s pop punk scene with their western suburban angst. This year, the band ranked no. 7 on Pop Punk World’s Top 20 Unsigned Bands. Cliffhanger’s debut EP Just Ignite was released last May and is available on iTunes.

Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Bandcamp

Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
Jordan Benker – Lead Guitar
Mike Centracco – Rhythm Guitar
Mike Licari – Drums
Trevor Utz – Bass/Vocals

What’s your hometown (or what are your hometowns)?
Chicago’s western suburbs (Berwyn, Riverside, Downers Grove, Rolling Meadows).

How did the band come together? How long has it been?
Mike C. met Mike L. met a long time ago while playing in local bands. After Mike C. graduated from college, he wanted to start up a new band that was different from what he used to play but combined his love for old and new pop punk. Mike C. then met Jordan at the Milwaukee Warped Tour where they discussed the possibility of starting a band. Mike C. reached out to Mike L. to inquire about playing drums from Cliffhanger and he agreed. Jordan introduced everyone to Trevor after they had met at Penny Road Pub while Jordan was playing a solo show. A few months after we all met, we decided to head into the studio to record, “Just Ignite.” We’ve been playing music for exactly a year, but started pushing our music when we released our debut EP in May.

How have you grown since you started?
We originally just wanted to throw our music out there since we recorded in February, but we waited until May to release it so we could have physical CDs created along with merch. It was a lot of patience, but it was nice knowing that everything was prepared before releasing it. We’ve grown by understanding patience and learning how to execute it correctly.

Our newer songs that have yet to be recorded are more lyrically relevant to today’s sound but still are structured between a mix of new and old pop punk.

What sets you apart from other bands?
We’re not a “theme” band. We discuss many topics in our songs that relate to us, so these songs are a way to get to know us. We don’t write songs about any theme in particular. We write about what we want to write about.

We’re also fun people and pretty random. We like to have fun and have a great time on stage.

What’s the best part about being in your band?
Everyone has the same goals of being professional, releasing quality material, sharing the desire to grow the band, and being serious in a fun way. For example, we have a song called, “They Used to Call Me ‘Anal Girl.’” It’s a serious song, but it has a fun song title. With everyone on the same page, playing together is that much better.

More times than not, influences tend to bleed through. What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
I Call Fives, Turnover, Count to Four, City Lights, Major League, Neck Deep, Handguns, and older bands like New Found Glory, Four Year Strong, Hit The Lights, blink-182, and All Time Low.

What would you say the band has already accomplished and what do you have your eyes set on next?
Like we mentioned previously, we’ve only been publically active since May, but we’ve received excellent reviews on our debut EP Just Ignite from several website. We’ve been on PopPunkWorld, Aesthetic Heart Promotions, Pure Grain Audio, Defend The Scene, and we were the Independent Artist of the Month at Restless Press. We’ve also had songs played on Chicago Punk Rock Radio and Amanda On-Air (a pop punk station in Eugene, Oregon). We’ve shared the stage with These Hearts and Mychildren Mybride. Lastly, we created a lyric video for our song “City Skyline” from scratch, which can be seen here:

We have our eyes set on booking more shows in the Chicagoland area, making another lyric video, saving up for a follow up EP, and trying to get our name out there.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place with the band (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
After playing our first show, we witnessed a member of another band that we played with puke on the sidewalk. There was a bunch of scrambled eggs just splattered across the sidewalk from his breakfast. It looked like he had eaten a dozen eggs. We like to joke that he vomited so much because he couldn’t contain all the awesome that he just experienced from watching us play.

Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
We’re fans of older pop punk music, new pop punk music, pop music, and several additional types of genres. We like combining those influences to create the sound we have. If you’re a fan and enjoy various types of pop punk music, then hopefully you can relate and enjoy our songs.

If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
If we could change something about the music industry, we would have smaller bands play on larger radio stations instead of having those radio stations playing the same songs over and over again. It’ll give variety to the station and help expose those smaller bands to a larger crowd.

How did your band’s name come about?
We always have great band practices but sometimes won’t practice for several weeks due to conflicting schedules. The practices always feel like they are left on a huge cliffhanger. We write energetic songs and we’re eager to finish them together, but we always have to wait some time before we can. When discussing this, the name “Cliffhanger” became a popular option for a name, and it stuck because we felt it was appropriate since we’re always left wanting more.

What’s the biggest mistake someone’s made while playing?
No one really makes any mistakes. Mike C. started bleeding from his thumb onto his guitar for rocking too hard once, but nothing too serious.

Any pre-performance rituals?
No. We’ve always been pretty rushed, so we don’t really have any downtime before our shows.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for taking the time to read this and thanks to POZ for showcasing us! Check out our debut EP “Just Ignite” which is available on iTunes:

Also, follow us on the following networks to keep up to date with us!

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Bandcamp, YouTube - Property of Zack

"Cliffhanger - "Just Ignite" [EP]"

Just Ignite is the new release from the Chicago-based pop punk band Cliffhanger. Yes, it is pop punk and for the most part I try and stay away from this genre, but what can I say... this is a pretty solid EP. The three songs herein are edgier, heavier, and more enjoyable than just about anything I've previously heard from this genre.

I especially liked, "They Used To Call Me Anal Girl" - it has a killer, raw, high-energy vibe to it that I really dug. Believe it or not I actually found myself wishing this release had a few more tunes because at just over 9 minutes long, things just seemed to get rolling when it was all done. Length (and genre) concerns aside though, this is an EP that is worth checking out... I think Cliffhanger are definitely onto something.

Track Listing:

01. City Skyline
02. They Used To Call Me Anal Girl
03. Bruises and Sabotage

Run Time: 9:28
Release Date: May 7, 2013

Check out the song "City Skyline" - Pure Grain Audio


Still working on that hot first release.



"Just Ignite" is the debut EP from Cliffhanger. Hailing from Chicago's western suburbs, Cliffhanger captures the essence of older pop punk along with the melodic energy of the genres modern sound. With four dedicated members, Cliffhanger has a strong influence of both pop and punk. Mike Centracco and Mike Licari are heavily influenced in pop punk and have been since the mid-1990s. Jordan Benker and Trevor Utz are very affluent in the pop music scene. Together, all these influences are brought together to create a familiar, but different sound.

After 5 months of playing together, Cliffhanger worked with Michael Govaere (ex-Every Avenue) at Downbeat Studio in Chicago to record Just Ignite. After recording at Downbeat Studio, Cliffhanger worked with Alan Douches (West West Side Music - A Day to Remember, Fall Out Boy, The Wonder Years) to master "Just Ignite."

"Just Ignite" is an accurate metaphor for working up the courage to begin something new with passion and excitement. The title also reflects the band's emersion into the scene with force. "Just Ignite" covers topics from the desire to break away from the routine life to the remembering the ones we have lost. There is a certain strength that comes from the music to overcome obstacles. The lyrics relate to the overlooked and under appreciated.

With "Just Ignite" being the debut release for this Midwestern band, it paves the path for growth and anticipation. Without a doubt, Cliffhanger will leave you waiting eagerly for the next release.

Band Members