The genre-bending whiz kids in Issues are cooking up a storm with their latest release ‘Headspace’ having dropped just over a week ago. The banger of a record infuses all the best elements of funk, jazz, RnB and pop and laces them through a healthy line of metalcore. Seriously, the band sounds like Justin Timberlake had a one night stand with The Amity Affliction, then dropped the baby at the doorstep of Fred Durst to be raised in a questionable nu-metal environment. I recently had the fantastic joy of talking to singer, Tyler Carter, in the midst of their European ‘Rebound Tour’.
How’s the European tour been treating you and the rest of Issues, so far?
Yeah, it’s been wild, man. We’ve seen a fluctuation of ticket sales, high and low but it’s all good. It’s nice to be out here [in Europe] again, playing to rich fans, you know what I mean? [Laughs]. But it’s good to be out here with the new record just, getting the new music out to the fans.
And how have they been reacting to the new material from ‘Headspace’ in the live setting?
I mean, we’re only playing about four new songs but it’s been great. The kids are reacting really well, they’re singing the words and loving the singles so it’s great. It definitely has a new profound energy to it ‘cause it’s pretty different to play these songs outside of the studio, you know?
For sure. I can imagine it would be. Just on that, how does it feel as a whole to finally have this record in the hands of the fans after quite some time recording it?
Yeah, it feels awesome. The response has been good on the singles but to have the whole record out there is awesome ‘cause we get to see all the fan favourites and what not. I mean, we obviously have our favourites and what we think will be [fan favourites] but it’s been a nice surprise to see all the songs that they’re reacting to and which ones are resonating the most with them. It’s been a nice surprise for sure!
Yeah, the reaction was definitely positive to both ‘Coma’ and ‘The Realest’ when they dropped. What was the reasoning behind releasing those two songs as the lead singles?
Well, we released Coma first and what not as just the song, but before we got that playing on the radio and everywhere, we wanted to put out The Realest to set the bar for what’s to come on this record instrumentally, especially with Skyler’s slap bass. He’s been working really hard on that and practicing a whole lot, working on his rhythm and his groove. Also, once upon a time, AJ [guitar] was never playing clean chords or riffs like that. He’s learned a lot about jazz in the past few years and has just been intrigued by it, so that was something he wanted to implement. Michael’s also been working on his [clean] singing and we’ve wanted to do that for a while and I’ve been working with my RnB style – all in all [The Realest] was just a strong showcase for the instrumentation on this record.
Coma was definitely the song we knew was the song. It was cool, it was catchy, it was big and we definitely knew it was a single. It obviously came out second though and that wasn’t for business or anything. We just felt that as a true rock band The Realest was the most interesting and one of the most creative songs on the record. As I said, it was a true showcase of all our talents.
At what point did you guys as a collective decide to include all these things into your music and branch off from that vanilla metalcore sound? Was it a big decision or did it happen organically?
We’ve all been influenced by all of these genres for all our lives but it’s really taken us a while to figure all that out and into our own music. In a way, that was natural and organic from the listener’s perspective. We just had more time here to get this done and focus on that. Everyone had input and more valuable input simply because we had that extra time on this record. People were able to sell and workshop their ideas. Because you can have an idea but you’ve gotta be able to back it up and deliver it and give everyone a perspective listen of it. From there you can sort of step back up and think “Okay, how is this idea and how can we make it better?”.
How long did you guys spend on this record?
Well man, we’re always writing. Always. We began writing right after our first record came out and had about two years to catalogue songs but we’ve had a solid, full-time year on writing songs for this. I mean, we’ve had songs that made it to [Headspace] from about a year and a half ago just because we’re always writing.
You guys came back to Kris Crummett on this one and I’m interested as to what exactly his appeal is for you guys. I’m sure he’s great at what he does as he churns out fantastic records. But he produced the band’s debut EP, self-titled record, mastered your own self-titled EP and now he’s produced ‘Headspace’. What drew you back for a fourth time to work with him?
Well, first and foremost he’s simply an excellent rock producer who also understands pop music too. But the thing we love about Kris is he’s also a musician himself. As a musician, he understands all the different elements we’re putting into this band whereas other producers just simply wouldn’t understand and wouldn’t get with that. He works so hard to really fathom up this record with us and like we want it. Kris just really understands that. That’s his seller for us; he’s a musician just like us.
That’s actually a good piece of advice for any band shopping around for producers.
Oh yeah, totally! Definitely something to look out for.
You also worked with Eric Ron who did the vocal production on this record, what’s your relationship and draw to him?
Yeah, we did vocals with Eric and I’d worked with him for my self-titled EP. When I was just doing some demoing and writing he helped me a lot with that. Eric’s also a singer himself and understands pop vocals and melodies and so he knew what I was trying to do vocally and that was just what we needed.
It ended up being a great team actually, Kris doing music and Eric doing vocals. They were a part of the executive writing and decision making and that just helped endlessly. Especially with Eric as he just produces vocals well and understands. Like, I’ll be in the studio asking “What should I do here? Tell me what harmonies to do.” With those producers, it was all about understanding and their excitement to get creative with us.
That’s really great to hear, Tyler. Thanks so much for your time today, I’ll let you get back to the tour. All the best for the shows, especially Rock Am Ring. Well done on the record by the way.
Thank you so much man, that means a lot. Have a great day, Matty!
‘Headspace‘ is out now. Read our review of it here.