We met with frontman Blake Allison the afternoon before the show to chat about upcoming plans for this year, their writing process and overcoming struggles. Check out the full interview below!
Blake Allison: Yeah actually, we are going to go ahead and start writing for the next one. We had been writing the last record for 2015 into 2016 and finally finished it up in 2016. We actually started recording that in late 2015 and it sort of spilled over, we had some touring that we had to do in between. So this year we plan on getting a really big head start on our writing so we are starting that way earlier than we did on the last one. I think we are about five or six songs deep on this next record, which is pretty soon because it feels like S.O.A.R just came out. It seems like most artists put out a record every two years, so we are going to try to do that with this one. It was a much larger gap between the last record and S.O.A.R, so it’s about time.
SR: How do you feel this latest album has gone over with the fans?
BA: I think that our new single “The Bottom” is really hitting home with a lot of people. We released that video for it and it seemed like we got the reactions that we were looking for. We were trying to get people to see that this song in particular was more than just a rock song about a struggle. That it was us trying to tell our story and trying to make people realize that we are not trying to focus on the pain and that’s it. We are trying to help people by giving them almost an example of what we’ve done through our lives to make things better, and to live creative lifestyles. That’s one thing that we fear the most is not being able to create every day in any kind of art. The song “The Bottom” is about seeing the end of that creativity and deciding to do something about it.
BA: Yeah, I have a really good friend back home and he describes our album as one big “diss track”. We had a lot of things to be angry about on our first record and on the second record we had accomplished those goals that we had set out when we made Time & Pressure. So this second record was a little bit more about the future than Time & Pressure, that was about the past.
SR: When putting together an album there is always a pruning process, so what is the criteria for a song to make it on the record?
BA: That’s a good question. I will say that this new record, the one we are working on right now, we have a standard that we feel like we need to meet for each song and basically we are telling ourselves that if each song independently makes us feel satisfied, that each song has substance, has our musical and performance integrity and just overall is a good song or not, because sometimes you can work really hard on something and you realize this it is just not a good song, so we want each track to satisfy those needs. In the past we have written songs and said man that’s really good and it would go really well on the record and then we released that record and played those songs for people and realized that some of them are a little confusing because we are a metal band on this song and then kind of a like an indie-rock band on this song and so forth. And I feel like what we want to do now is narrow that focus into just writing songs that just have the most substance, because those are the songs that we feel end up landing where they are suppose to in the hearts of the audience. So that’s the goal.
BA: Personally, I think that a lot of people my age start to look around at their peers and see what they are doing with their lives and the 'grass is always greener'. The hardest thing for me is to realize that this is the life I have, the life that I am going to lead. And I could abandon ship and try to go get another job or do something different with my life, but I don’t know. This last break I spent a lot of time with my family, going over whether or not this is the lifestyle that is good for me and I realized that at the end of it, you can put a dollar amount on happy you are but you shouldn’t. I was starting to do that, I was starting to think that I don’t spend enough time at home, my relationships are failing, I’m not spending enough time with my family and it just seems like I don’t have any roots anywhere. And it seems like all of my friends that have gotten out of college and that have worked really hard at their jobs, ten years have passed since high school and college and you know they seem to be really happy. But this is what makes me happy. If I wasn’t on tour, if I wasn’t making music every day, that would drive me crazy. And so I think there is a dollar value to that, it’s just hard to see it like that. I think the biggest struggle for me is realizing my life is great. I’m very lucky to be where I am, but sometimes you start comparing and comparison is the root of insecurity.
BA: Oh, hmm. Staying motivated is definitely a very difficult thing when the state of the industry is where it is, but I think that I could sit around and complain about the way that things are or I could adjust and that’s what we are trying to do. Getting around those obstacles is a big part of my motivation. And I’m in a band with three other guys that work hard at their job so I don’t want to let them down, and that’s a big motivation as well. And the people who listen to our music, I feel if I stopped right now there would be a lot of people who would say something like “what happened”, you know.
SR: So what makes a great band to you and what standards do you hold yourselves to?
BA: I think great bands always have courage in the face of artistic freedom. So I envy bands that do what they want to do. And that’s something I feel is the most inspirational piece in our music, that when we set out to make a record, it’s not that we do something that’s unheard of it’s that we do something that we want. I think we take the most inspiration from people that are very brave.
SR: Alright, last question. What words of wisdom for overcoming do you want to leave your fans with?
BA: I would say if I could give any advice to overcoming any sort of serious strife, I would say that that for us it’s hard to look inward when the source of your pain is outward. But the truth is that most issues are just a matter of perspective and how you look at it. And so I encourage our listeners, our friends and our family to take a deep breath, take a step back and try to find a better perspective for the way that things are.
SR: Thank you so much for talking with us!
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