As It Is Talk Song Writing, Japanese Fans, Traveling And Playing Live
Read the whole chat here!
Did you feel a lot of pressure to write an album that would be as well received as ‘Never Happy, Ever After?’
There was definitely more pressure this time around. With your first record there are no expectations, but this time we had people we didn’t want to disappoint, including ourselves! We always want to outdo ourselves with each release and I hope people think we did that.
How important was it to pick up the themes of the previous album and carry them forward?
'Never Happy' was a very introverted album, it focused very much with our internal struggles and thoughts. 'okay.' was definitely more honest and dealt more with all the external issues that affect our mental health; our families, relationships and losses. Every lyric was a lot more raw on this record and we really had to dig deep and share a lot of things we’d kept hidden with each other.
Do you prefer playing festivals or headline shows?
I love them both for different reasons. I love the intimacy of our headline shows and seeing the pure passion for our band but damn I love having all the space on a festival stage to move around on! Maybe one day we’ll play massive headline shows and then I get the best of both worlds!
Did the writing/recording process for ‘okay.’ differ a lot from your first album?
We wrote it in the same house we wrote 'Never Happy' in, but this time we threw away the rule book and didn’t allow ourselves to get bogged down with ‘what As It Is sounds like’. We weren’t afraid to try stranger and darker things. The recording process was super different for us. With 'Never Happy', the demos were basically the same as the end products structurally, lyrically and musically. With 'okay.' we made a lot of changes in the studio and even wrote songs from scratch with our producer, which was a brand new experience that we really enjoyed.
You guys do a lot of touring; what’s been the biggest culture shock for you?
I love how different Japan is to anywhere else in the world. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where fans form an orderly line to meet you and shake your hand. Patty (Walters, lead singer) and I find it a little difficult to eat which can be a shock but we’re used to it by now!
Leading on from that, where is your favourite place to play? (so like hometown shows or somewhere entirely new?)
We are not a hometown band, we very rarely play in Brighton because it’s normally pretty disappointing! We haven’t done it in a while though. Glasgow is always great to us and always look forward to that show on a tour. New Jersey is always a great show too!
Did you think the reaction for ‘okay.’ would be as overwhelmingly positive as it has been?
I never like to get my expectations up too high because then you set yourself up for disappointment but seriously, the response from everyone was overwhelming. When you work on a record for almost a whole year, you always hope it wasn’t a waste and that people appreciate it as much as we do. I barely read a negative thing about the record, it seemed like even the people that didn’t get 'Never Happy' managed to get on board with 'okay.'!
How important is it for you for fans to be able to relate to your work?
I love seeing our songs connect with people and them finding bits of themselves in our songs but primarily it is more important for us to be as honest as we can about ourselves first. If fans relate then that’s awesome, we love being able to talk to fans, hear their stories and relate back to them as well.
When it comes to composing a song, what comes first: the lyrics or the melody?
Normally the music comes first, we almost always have a song done and lyrics and vocal melody will be the last thing to be written. It can be a frustrating process because lyrics and melody shape the song so much and for that to happen at the end can basically rewrite the song.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming year? Shows, tours etc. or anything non-music related?
I’m really looking forward to our first North American headline tour. We’re taking out our friends in ROAM and we know from experience it’s going to be an absolute blast. It’s probably going to be a highlight of the year. We have a bunch of exciting things for Europe we haven’t announced yet that are going to be awesome!
Were there a lot of creative differences when writing the new album? If so, how were they resolved?
There weren’t quite as many this time around because we banned the phrase 'this doesn’t sound like As It Is'. We still disagreed but we always come to a solution that all five of us are happy with. It’s good in a way as it means you really try every option, better or worse, for a song to get to the end result.
What do you do when you have time off?
I spend time with my wife and become a bit of a stay at home husband. I just enjoy relaxing and savouring time in one place!
Which bands would you say have been your biggest influence?
For me personally Frank Turner has been my biggest influence in terms of work ethic but in terms of musicality Taking Back Sunday made me want to be in a band and are the reason I’m here doing what I do.
What are the best and worst things about touring?
The best part of tour for me is always the show, hands down. That’s why I do this. Spending five hours in the van a day can be pretty tough on our mental state but like I said, playing a sick show makes it all worth it.