With the 6th annual JanSport Battle of the Bands kicking off this coming Tuesday, January 21st, we thought we should take a moment to catch up with last year’s winner: Philadelphia’s Cold Fronts.

The guys have definitely had an incredible year, and front man Craig Almquist filled us in on some of the details, along with some SXSW tips for bands making the trip for the first time:

JS: We’ve seen lots of big news from Cold Fronts this year. What have you guys been up to since last year’s SXSW?

CA: Since last year we signed a deal with Warner/Sire. Toured across the United States of America. Recorded our first full length album. Quit our day jobs. We did fifteen songs with Kyle “Slick” Johnson (The Hives, Modest Mouse, Wavves) and it sounds pretty sick. It’s been one of the craziest years of my life and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

JS: What was your most positive Sx experience last year?

CA: I would say winning the Battle of the Bands contest was the most positive experience. We had a tour booked to the festival already and then that was just the icing on the cake. We’ve been fortunate to always get great opportunities and work with cool people, and this year was no different. The day of the JanSport show was so crazy. Some labels came to check us out and ultimately led to us getting a contract with Warner/Sire. Every year something crazier seems to happen so we’re pumped for this year.

JS: You guys are seasoned SXSW vets at this point. What is your craziest Sx memory?

CA: The craziest SXSW was probably the first year we ever went. We had just gone on tour with mewithoutYou and the tour ended in Pennsylvania and we had like three days or less to get to the festival. So, we just drove straight there and didn’t have any place to stay. We found a production lot, snuck in, and set up a tent, and that was pretty much where we lived the whole week, rain or shine. Our friend was doing generator shows on the side of the street (illegally) and we did a quick afternoon set. Some guy came up to us after the set and said he liked the songs and I gave him a record. A few weeks later I found out it was Seymour Stein. The dude who signed The Ramones, Talking Heads, Madonnna, etc. We ended up talking to him for the next year and he eventually gave us our record deal. Its just one of those weird coincidences where the universe just seems to throw you some dumb luck and good timing.

JS: That’s incredible. It’s the classic “right place, right time” story. Those sort of chance encounters are really what Sx is supposed to be about. What is your one piece of advice to young bands that may be heading down there this year for the first time?

CA: You know, there’s a lot of bands in the world and SXSW only reinforces that. It can be a little overwhelming but it should also be encouraging and make you want to stick out. Play as many shows as possible, make genuine connections with people, and don’t be a dick because word travels fast.  Also, write down goals. You’re way more likely to achieve them if you have the conviction to write them down on paper.

JS: Sound advice. Especially the not being a jerk part. What are your plans for 2014?

CA: Release the record and then take over the world man! I’ve been obsessed with music and bands my whole life so the fact that this year I get to be a part of this world is really beyond exciting. Its like a dream. We’re sitting on a really kick ass record right now and I’m really excited to share it with everyone. Other than that we’re just going to be doing our two favorite things, writing and touring.

JS: Love it.

Check out some recent live video of the band here, and make sure to listen to some tunes here.