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At this time in their careers, it's a scary time. A second record for a band can either aid them a lot or start losing some fans and for this record, they definitely took some risks. Through my conversation with John, we talked about their first tastes of mainstream and the criticism that may come from fans because of that and just people in general and for these guys it's something they just don't care about any more. It's about the music and please do read on because this is one of the most real and intelligent interviews I have had so far through all of this! In this interview, John also dropped that their new music video comes out in a week so I hope you enjoy that little exclusive bit of information and the interview as a whole.
So with this new record, I know you guys did a lot of communication like you guys did a lot of video blogs about the new music and stuff. How do you think that's helped this record, 'Black and White'?
Know what, I think it, hopefully, the goal was to kind of express how much effort we put in to the whole process. You know I don't think a lot of people understand how much time it actually takes to make something like a full length record. We're really proud of the record as a whole and I think we just wanted to convey that. I mean I'm not sure how it's really helped. I don't know how you can judge that but I think by the views and like people being supportive of it I think it's helped for sure.
I know you're playing Soundwave this year and you're playing with a lot of big names like Third Eye Blind and Slayer and you're also playing with a lot of old label mates like Mayday Parade and Every Avenue so what are you most looking forward to playing it?
I don't even know what to expect. I guess initially I'm just excited to be going to Australia. I've never been there, I haven't even been there for leisure so it will be a lot of fun. I heard it's a lot of traveling so I think we're flying pretty much every where so I'm not sure what to expect. Really excited to see, I mean Never Shout's going to be there, Mayday is going to be there so we know a lot of people so hopefully it won't be too overwhelming once we get over there. So hopefully it will be a blast!
And then 'Black and White' I think broke a lot of stereotypes for you guys. It was a little more rock at least 'Inside of You' which is the first single off of it-
A little more rock! Like was that your goal to really expand a bit on the music?
Yeah! I think we were just trying to like create some sort of distinctive sounds as opposed to a medley of music and song. I think we were trying to create some sort of cohesion and I felt like we did that. Felt like one of the biggest things was we added a hand organ through out the whole record and I felt like that was something that we pulled from like Tom Petty and other bands like that but like things like that kind of meshes it altogether and makes kind of sense of the whole record and I feel like that was the goal and the goal in the future is to create an even more distinctive sound and continue to not necessarily set ourselves apart because that's not what we're trying to do. We're just trying to create a name for ourselves and a sound for ourselves and I feel like that's what a lot of successful bands have done in the past and that's what we're trying to do. Trying to pull from.
Perfect and I know like from talking to Kennedy you do a lot of the writing, well most of the writing. So how do you think you've grown personally as a songwriter?
Um (laughs) you know with the experiences that I (laughs) had songwriting for 'Black and White', I was writing with people that I mean you've heard all their songs on the radio. They're not necessarily the voice for the song they're the people behind it and I felt like that was the most influential part of my career as a songwriter thus far. It helped me so much just thinking about songs as songs and not necessarily as sounds. You know there's so many references I can make but there is a reason why the songs, most of the songs that you hear, are popular and liked by a lot of people because they can be any different style of song. So I felt like that was super beneficial and I learned so much and the goal for me, my personal goal, for this next record is to not write with anybody and just if I want to write with somebody it will just be for fun. Not going in with this mentality of we have to write a single for the record you know. I just think we learned a lot about ourselves as artists and creatively I think. Hopefully it will help. I mean I'm going to give it a shot and I've already written so many songs since then and just in the past like three, four months I've written god knows how many songs but it's just fulfilling to kind of see the progress of where I started out. In writing for the first EP we wrote and put out and now like I think content and lyrics for me I was always a little un easy about putting out too heavy of things or putting out too much of myself which is why a lot of the earlier stuff is more about things that I've never experienced because it's easier. You know you don't put yourself out there so you're less vulnerable so that's what my focus is. To be as honest and as open as possible from here on out.
And then you've covered a lot of songs in the past. I know you did one for Billboard and then obviously when you did the Classic Rock compilation. Maybe if you were to cover a band you've toured with in the past, who do you think they would be?
I know you've been lucky enough to tour with so many big guys.
Yeah! I mean we've toured with so many bands with so many great songs. I think it would be fun to maybe try our hand at this band called Brighten. They're from Chico.
Yeah Justin is in A Rocket To The Moon as well but I think that would be fun to try to cover a Brighten song. He's the most incredible songwriter I know so I think just song wise I would probably choose one of his or A Rocket To The Moon. Either one.
I've worked with a lot of bands that always say Brighten.
Like There for Tomorrow Maika Maile. I work with him a lot like every time he comes through and every single time he has such good things to say about them!
Yeah dude great guys man. I'm actually going to Jimmy's wedding in January. Jimmy the drummer is getting married so it's going to be an awesome time.
And then this summer you went out on a headlining tour and you brought out two up and coming acts from Arizona as well in This Century and Austin Gibbs. It was like their first big national exposure so what was like your tour like that? Like big people bringing you out, maybe taking a risk by bringing you guys out. Like the one that began to open the doors?
Well the first tour it was Brighten and The Morning Light and us and it wasn't necessarily like anybody taking anybody under their wings because we were all good friends but it was more just like-. It was just like that family vibe which was awesome and it taught us a lot about what it means to be true. You know what it means to be honest and what it means to be real and I think sometimes you can lose sight of that especially when more people start showing up to your shows. When great things start happening or even terrible things start happening, you soon find out a lot about a person. You know from adversity or success. I think that tour kind of opened the gates if you will but as far as a band taking us under their wing, we were fortunate enough to go on a Boys Like Girls tour, we've been on a couple, but the first one that we did. Good Charlotte was with them and Metro Station as well and Good Charlotte really kind of just showed us the ropes. I think that's a lot of where that mentality comes from is kind of being true to yourself and then regardless of the success and fame and fortune and you know whatever troubles or misery or whatever it is I think they kept it really even keel. I'll never forget that first day. We were in Chicago and we were all in our dressing room and Benji and Joel rolled in and we were like little, little kids. We were like 'Oh here's a chair, here's a chair!' you know what I mean and that tour, that's something that I'll remember for the rest of my life. That was pretty awesome!
And then you've put out one video I believe for this record so far but obviously you've done a few videos in the past. Maybe what was like your favorite to make? Like you have 'Girls Do What They Want'-
Yeah it's kind of like a montage thing.
Like tour video!
Then you've done like 'Everything I Ask For' and 'Into Your Arms'-
We did one for 'Everything I Ask For' and then 'Into Your Arms' and then I don't know whether 'Girls Do What They Want' came out before or after 'Into Your Arms'. Actually, my favorite one that I've done thus far has been or will be one that we're releasing in a week.
I think a week. I think that's what Pat said today but we shot it with our buddy Loren back at home. He used to play drums in A Rocket To The Moon and that was by far the most fun that I've had because it was so laid back. I'm really excited for you to see it because it's definitely an interesting idea and it was just kind of a spur of the moment thing. We just threw it together. Doesn't necessarily pertain to the song which I like a lot. It doesn't have really anything to do with the song and once you see it, hopefully you'll see why we had so much fun but we shot it in Arizona and it was just homies (laughs). It was awesome!
Cool how this out worked out then!
Actually this was pretty strange but I was at work and I heard 'Right Girl'-
Oh very cool!
And I thought that was pretty neat because unfortunately no one there knew you yet so I told them about past interviews with the band so you had a bit of mainstream success which a lot of alternative bands are on it now like Hey Monday and The Ready Set. How do you feel like, do you think it's a good thing that is going to help the alternative scene or do you think it's going to hurt it? How do you think it's affecting it?
Well to tell you the truth. I mean radio has it's own track record. Radio doesn't sell records any more. That's apparent. It sells singles and for a band that is trying to push all their songs, I'm not worried about whether 'Right Girl' goes anywhere. You know that's personally. I'm letting every body else that should be dealing with that stuff, let them deal with it. So for me personally I mean is it satisfying? Yeah. Is it gratifying? Of course but I mean I'm not worried about it. I don't even look at the reports that I get. I just delete the email because that's not my focus. My focus is to blossom the band and grow it as big as we can pushing all the songs in unison.
Well you guys have been together for a long time now-
It's not going to like affect you guys making music.
Yeah and I think we have a pretty clear idea of where we want to see ourselves in the future and where we want to see ourselves you know now.
How do you feel maybe you've matured? You've obviously grown up since the last album. Just aging yourself but you're not teenagers any more you're not 18. How do you think you guys have matured since the beginning? Like it's a little bit more rock but like yourselves personally in this band together?
Before, it was really easy to say that you weren't really worried about what anybody else was saying about you and you know as well as I do growing up when you go to high school or even middle school that's a really hard thing to actually act on and actually just let it ride. I think we're at a point where that's the case. We don't care anymore. I don't care. I don't care at all. I'm not worried about it. I'm twenty two years old you know what I mean. My mom knows everything that I've done. She knows everything that I say.
Does she read all the stuff?
She reads all of it. She actually comes to me when people write bad reviews and stuff like that. She's always telling me. I'm like 'Mom don't read those' or 'Don't listen to them' but I really feel like I'm at such a point in my life where there's too much positives to think about any of the negative and I think that's how all of us feel. This is fun and when this isn't fun and when this becomes a job I mean there has to be some sort of sense of responsibility right now but I'm twenty two years old. I should be graduated from college. All my friends that did don't know what they're going to do and I know what I want to do at least for right now. The school that I went to I'm pretty sure that's not going to move. They're not going to up lift the foundation and move it. So I'm having a great time and I think we're not taking this for granted as much as we used to. It's hard not to take it for granted sometimes. It's hard to kind of be excited about things all the time but we're definitely working on it and I think we're at the point where this is the most crucial time. The next two months in my opinion are the most crucial points ever. This is like 'this is it.' We're going to record on our own and then-
A new record?
Yeah I mean just for our sake and the focus is still 'Black and White' just because it's so fresh and not fresh as in like cool. Fresh as in new.
So cool, so fresh.
Yeah but yeah we're going to give it. Well I'm going to give it as much as I have in me and if nothing comes from it, nothing comes from it but I have a good feeling about things I do.
And then what do you think is going to be going on? Do you think you're going to be focusing on recording, are you going to be taking a little break, playing more shows?
Well we definitely have two months off. This December and January so we're going to go, I mean I'm going to write as many songs as I can. We're going to write as much as we can together and then we go to Australia. We're doing a lot of international stuff which will probably take us up to the summer and then tour again. Back in the states.
Yeah! Well thank you so much!
No problem! Thank you!
It was great to get a different vibe of it!