Originally published online at BLUNT Magazine.
It’s been a really good year for British pop-punkers As It Is. Not only have they released their debut full-length, Never Happy, Ever After, they also scored line-up spots for both Warped Tour in the US and Reading Festival in their native UK. Like we said, it’s been a really good year. With their first ever Australian tour just around the corner, we said ello guv’nor to frontman Patty Walters.
You guys have only been around for a couple years, how did you originally meet and what led to forming the band?
It’s quite a longwinded and unconventional way to meeting each other. We’ve all been into pop-punk since our childhoods, and basically I was in a position where I didn’t know anybody who I wanted to be in a band in. So I went to this website, JoinMyBand.co.uk and put up an ad saying, “Hey, I want to start up a pop-punk band. Is anyone interested?” Our guitarist Andy [Westhead] replied to the post – we didn’t know each other until we met up for the first time and started this band together. I asked Ben [Biss], our guitarist and other vocalist, if he would be interested because I knew that he was into a similar style of music and played a few instruments. He said, “Yeah” and we started writing our first ever songs. We met our drummer Patrick Foley through the same site, and eventually completed our line-up with Alistair [Testo, bass] and here we are today! It may be a slightly weird story. We’re best friends now, but back then we didn’t now each other well or even at all, but that’s kind of how it all came to be.
You put out your debut record Never Happy, Ever After a few months back. How does it feel to finally have it finished?
It feels very surreal, even still thinking back to it. None of us had ever written an album before; we’d never recorded an album before. It was a very exciting and new thing for all five of us. It’s something I’m still very proud to say that we’ve done, that we’ve written and released a full-length record. To see it resonate with so many people is incredible. I was blown away. We tried our very best with our first attempt, and I’m glad it’s meant so much to so many people
Was there any pressure making it? Did you feel like you had to live up to the expectations of the fanbase and expectations you’d amassed with your previous EPs?
The way we treated this opportunity was that this was something we’ve wanted our whole lives, to be in this position, signed to a record label and able to write a full-length. We saw that as such a special opportunity; an opportunity that doesn’t necessarily happen to all bands, so we didn’t want to take that for granted even slightly. We wanted to give it everything, so we weren’t taking anything for granted. We understood that this opportunity was something we were very lucky to be in the position to have, so we truly did try our hardest and worked long days. There was a bit of pressure in that respect, and there were nerves and apprehension. We didn’t know how it was going to be received, if people were going to enjoy it as much as the previous EPs. But, at the same time, we tried our very hardest and were writing stuff that we were very proud of and excited to eventually release. So, yeah, there was a bit of pressure but at the same time we were mostly excited.
You’re an English pop-punk band, which is pretty unique as that genre is primarily dominated by American acts. Do you feel like you’re representing the UK in the international pop-punk scene?
Sure. I mean, I think what’s so interesting and exciting is that there was no such scene for British pop-punk, except for maybe the last two or three years with bands like Neck Deep and Gnarwolves. Since then there’s been ourselves, and bands like Trash Boat and Roam who have been signed to these independent record labels. But when we started this band it was absurd to think or even expect international eyes, like Australia, America or Japan, to even look at the UK for exciting new pop-punk. That just wasn’t a thing. That’s what’s so exciting about this point in time for this scene. It’s a very exciting time to be a part of UK pop-punk. If we’re helping to spread the word than that’s fantastic, because it really is an exciting time. There are a lot of really great bands in our scene right now.
Is the fact that you come from the UK something that factors into your music? Do you make it a point to show that you’re from there as opposed to anywhere else?
I suppose so, yeah. It’s an interesting one because I’m American originally, but that other four boys are all English. Ben is just as prominent a vocalist as myself and he sings with an English accent. You kind of get a dual, trans-Atlantic accent appeal in the vocals. But, yeah, it is very much a point: we are a very British band. I don’t necessarily know if that influences our sound, but I think it’s more of a mentality.
You guys are the first UK band to ever sign with Fearless Records as well. How did that come about? Did they first approach you?
They came to us slightly after our management came to us. Previously we hadn’t had any label interest whatsoever, and our manager asked us if labels started approaching us what would be our ideal label to sign with. After thinking about it we all said Fearless Records. They have a relatively small roster, and looking at it, we knew every band on there. Their demographic really suits ours. Overall we just really enjoyed their work ethic. When they approached us we were overwhelmed and after a few meetings and talking it out, it was just the right deal for us.
You worked with producer James Paul Wisner on Never Happy, Ever After, and he’s worked with some pretty big name bands like Paramore, Dashboard Confessional and Underoath to name a few. Why did you choose him for the job? Was that a similar case of him approaching you?
That came about, I remember very vividly, when I was in a conference room at Fearless Records HQ with our manager and the name got suggested. Everybody got really excited, but I didn’t know his work that well. The thing with our sound is that it’s a very nostalgic. It’s not necessarily the most newest, ground-breaking sound in our genre but we are trying to evoke that nostalgia. We thought someone who helped create that sound, who worked on Dashboard Confessional and The Academy Is… records would help us achieve it. So that’s why we decided to work with him and it was an awesome experience. It was very, very awesome.
You’ve had a pretty big year so far playing festivals likes Warped Tour and Reading & Leeds. How were those experiences for you? Was it weird being on these massive festival stages as opposed to watching from the crowd?
It was very surreal. We’ve been to those festivals as kids to watch bands we really admired and looked up to. To be on the other side of that, to be the band that people were coming to see was very overwhelming. I remember having these realisations throughout the set that this was actually occurring. It was very surreal and very exciting and something I don’t think we’ll ever forget.
Any particular highlights?
It’s one of these things where nothing really stuck out. It was the entire 30 minutes, from walking on to walking off, we were just blown away.
I feel like “pop-punk” as a genre gets a bad rap, like it’s the dorky younger brother of actual punk. Is that something you’ve experienced?
Yeah, sure. I can totally understand that mentality, and it’s not a genre for everyone but I think that’s a key thing in any genre, you know? So we’re not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but that’s okay, really. I understand why pop-punk is seen as the dorky younger brother of punk rock and hardcore. But at the same time, pop-punk is so different now than what it used to be. You’ve got bands like The Wonder Years and Knuckle Puck that are taking these lyrics much further than pop-punk from 10 or so years ago. That’s what’s so fantastic about pop-punk right now, and that’s what we’re aiming to do as well, to make it slightly darker and slightly more respectable. At the same time I love it because it such a fun genre. But I understand that mentality. I don’t think we’ve been ridiculed for purely just that. I think one of the loveliest things to see was when we did a tour of Europe with an Australian band called Trophy Eyes. We were slightly apprehensive with them being a more aggressive, not necessarily pop-punk band but more of a punk or hardcore band, but they welcomed us with open arms. They weren’t genre elitists; they liked the lighter stuff and we like the heavy stuff. That was really cool to experience. They were some of our best friends while on Warped Tour.
That’s something I’ve found with the pop-punk scene, that it’s incredibly friendly and supportive. Why do you think it’s such a strong and welcoming community?
It’s hard to say if it’s even pop-punk specifically. I think each niche genre has bands that respect one another. If you’re passionate enough to pursue one specific genre, I think you’re going to support everyone else in that community. I love that our genre isn’t a competitive genre – it’s a very supportive genre and we’re all looking out for each other and trying to shout each other out as much as possible, and just be there for each other. If one of us thrives then all of us thrive, that’s just kind of how it works. You just pave the way for artists of a similar suite. We’re not necessarily doing it with that intention, we just want to be nice to each other and want everybody to succeed.
You mentioned earlier that you used Join My Band to find your bandmates, and you guys are pretty active on your YouTube account. You also crowdfunded your fourth EP, This Mind Of Mine. Basically, you’re a band that has really embraced social media and digital services. Is crowdfunding an album something you’d ever consider doing again?
Potentially, potentially. The thing about social media and technology right now is that it’s a very useful tool, and I don’t see it being particularly useful to ignore it. It’s just something that can help your band, honestly. To use it right is very, very effective. It brings a lot of different bands together and it’s done a world of good for us because we understood it, appreciated it and overall enjoy it. Crowdfunding the EP was a good decision for us and I was very glad we did it, and very glad we use social media the way we do.
You guys are currently here for your first ever Australian tour! Is this your first time visiting here?
Yeah, it is. It’s going to be an awesome time! We don’t really know what to expect, except to expect anything. We’re coming out and just hoping to have a really good time, sight-see and do all the tourist stuff, and meet some amazing people. The band we’re touring with, With Confidence, we’ve listened to them and think they’re awesome, so we’re equally excited for that. It should just be a really good time – we’re really looking forward to it!