Covering more genres than you can count on one hand, America’s neo-soul, RnB, post-hardcore superstars ISSUES have released their debut self-titled album and it’s an absolute killer. They have been on tour with bands such as Of Mice & Men, Crown the Empire and Bring Me the Horizon to name a few, all the while leaving a trail of soulful melodies, roaring screams, electronica and powerful post-hardcore in their wake. We spoke with Tyler Carter on everything about the band and their solid new album.
How’s The American Dream Tour going with Bring Me The Horizon?
It’s so awesome! They [Bring Me the Horizon] are just so incredible. They are- I don’t want to say rock stars as that has a negative connotation to it but they are just awesome. They put on a great show and are so inviting to us.
Tell us a bit about the apparent bus incident that occurred with ISSUES?
It wasn’t even that serious. I guess we were side-swiped in the front of the bus and obviously they were a bit better off than us with they being in car and us a bus. But some of the guys were shaken. I slept right through it. I didn’t know until a fire-fighter came and woke me up. But everyone’s okay, no injuries at all, we’re all good.
Speaking of touring, any idea when you might be coming down here to do a tour?
We were supposed to come last year but financially it wasn’t possible, which sucks that now we have to wait so long to get down there. When [promoters/labels] they’re going to give us the opportunity we don’t know; hopefully we’ll get Soundwave or something and be able to do it right, do it big!
Can’t wait for it! We’ll talk about the album now so tell me why you decided to self-title the record?
I mean, the album is what it is. It’s like, the history and the legacy of ISSUES and the name of the band with people’s issues, both good and bad, negative and positive; and we wanted to bring that concept back I guess. And just the fact that we are a full band now. It’s all official members, a great team of writers, it feels like we found our identity and our sound and so it was inevitable to self-title the record.
Run me through the writing process of the album.
Oh man, there are so many different formulas. We have a lot of different ways and takes many different vibes and creativity to pull it together. I don’t want to give away too many secrets but sometimes we’ll start with a pop song and make it progressively heavier and alternative. Sometimes well start with Josh [drums] and he’ll just start a groove and go from there. There s a lot of different ways.
On the topic of writing, who writes the lyrics, does Michael compose them, do you or is it a joint effort?
Generally I write most of the lyrics. I’ll write my parts and write his mostly to keep it melodic and catchy. He’s definitely a visionary when it comes to lyrics, he has a lot of story ideas and a lot of great ideas in general and input. I guess it’s my forte to bring it together into a structure. We’re a good team.
What topics do you enjoy exploring most about?
It just depends on how I feel. It’s like writing poetry or painting, the art will come out as to how you feel emotionally. That’s why the hard part is that if Michael has an idea or concept then I have to put myself in his mind-frame. We have a song that’s about Michael’s relationship problems over the past few years. I had to think differently this time around in the track which was ‘Sad Ghosts’. I could feel his words but I couldn’t feel his pain. I had to put myself in his shoes and connect with him. There was a night in the process of that where we just stayed up and he poured out to me everything he had felt and thought over the past few years and I took it down. And I had to connect with that before I could bring it to life.
Moving away from the artistic side of it and onto the tech’ side, who produced the record for you?
Well we produced the record on pre-production with all the electronics and writing. And then we went in with Kris Cummet who did Black Diamonds and he helped us structure some things and really bring it together into unity. We wanted the sounds and songs to all feel relevant with each other. So that’s the professionalism we got from Kris, we got the great quality and sound.
So you look forward to working with him in the future?
As we say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We have such a solid set of writers now in this band and we have Kris who grows as we grow. This time we did real drums on the record and all real instruments so it was a little bit of experimenting on the record and as we learn, he learns you know? When we write more songs in the future we’ll hopefully add some more tones and work with some other writers and producers but still get Kris to be our core. Hopefully well bring out some next level shit! (laughs)
For you, what was the most fun part of recoding the album?
I think for me, it was the fact I wasn’t scared to be the artist I wanted to be. I kind of ran shit the way I wanted it to be. Kris was awesome about producing my vocals, if I wanted to show more of my RnB side or my throwback-pop side then he would be ok with it. I knew what I wanted it to sound like. I had written it all pre-recording so I knew all the harmonies, all the vocal stacks and how it needed to be and Kris was just "go, go, go!" So that was the most enjoyable part of it for me
That’s a very good answer and quite insightful. How about the most challenging part?
There’s a song on the record called ‘Disappear’ that was really tough for me. I wrote it about my friend Rachael who passed away a few years ago. She was the reason I got into music or became a singer. When I was younger I just wanted to be a drummer but when I met her, she made me realise I had talent by bringing it out in me. And so writing a song about losing the one person who is your rock and your light for you, it brought out the memories like the things I forgot and missed about her. It took me two weeks to write and record that song as there were moments that it I would just lose it and I would choke up. Nothing was perfect. I couldn’t come back the next day and have it not good enough. When you’re paying homage to someone who is a legend to you and created you and you career, it can’t be mediocre. It has to be right and perfect.
Wow, thank you very much for that really inspiring answer Tyler.
No worries, Matt.
Now, I don’t know who out there has seen it but ISSUES made an Instagram page for the album. And when you turn your phone on it’s side and scroll down the page, it’s this full on design that seamlessly goes together and has all the songs streamed there. It’s an absolutely brilliant and artistic idea that I have never seen before. Who or where did you guys come with that idea?!
We had been talking about how we wanted to do something virally different that would promote ALL the songs individually. And we knew that nobody had really done anything big on Instagram, save for teaser videos. People use facebook, twitter and blogs. So how could we use Instagram and even vine to promote this album that no one else has done before? It was joint effort of our design team and our managers doings. They sent us off the drafts and we were blown away! So it takes a really great design team to do something like that and people who understand what you’re trying to achieve.
Yeah I absolutely love the concept and just got caught up in it. So we’ll go for a final question now. You have a very distinct, studio sound. It’s RnB, is post-hardcore, it’s electronic, it’s soul; how do you go about translating not only the sound but the atmosphere of the music into the live setting?
Well I guess it takes a bunch of kids that went to a lot of shows in their youth. My first show was N’Sync Christmas! (Laughs) Michael’s was Bon Jovi I think and Todd (Aka. Scout, electronics) was probably Telly Tubbies or some shit but he spent the most of his concerts at DJs or EDM shows and even some underground hip-hop. So we take all the fun elements for that stuff and mix it in with our own sense of energy and live performance. I guess you take notes and respect your elders and take what they do and bring it into our own form. We’re trying to start things like a movement of Hooligans which doesn’t have to be synchronised jumping or head banging, it’s all individual stuff that we’re doing. Each member has his own schtick and style to it.
Well thank you so much for your time Tyler, hopefully I’ll see you out here soon.
Awesome, I hope so too! Thanks, Matt.
To checkout the aforementioned Instagram concept go here. Note that it will only have the same effect on a phone.