Burn FM’s Emma and Becca managed to sit down with bassist, Skyler (S), and drummer, Josh (J), from the ‘genre-mashing’ band, Issues, in the only space available…a broom cupboard! They were able to discuss Issues’ new album, their favourite Indian restaurants in Birmingham, and their musical influences.
E: Given that we’re from the student radio for Birmingham University, we wanted to know if you have played here before, and if so, what do you make of it as both a city and a crowd?
S: We have played Birmingham before, but we can’t exactly remember when! It was a few years ago. We did the runaround of Slam Dunk Festival a few years back. It’s sick, we’re really excited to play that festival next year. We really love playing here; personally, I love playing anywhere in the North of England. We just went to this Indian spot which is meant to be the best Indian restaurant in the UK, it was amazing! Nothing but positive experiences here so far.
B: Your latest album took you two years to write, what was the creative process behind it and why did it take so long?
S: Well, we wrote 45 songs!
J: There was a lot of arguing deciding how to go from the 45 we wrote to what we would put on the album. The goal was to have an album that was representative of what we wanted to do musically. As far as that goes, there were a lot of different elements. It ended up being a lot different to our past albums. We love pop music, we love heavy music, we love jazz. All of those elements we wanted to present correctly, so that’s why only thirteen songs made it.
E: You are well known for being a ‘genre-mashing’ band. For instance, your first self-titled album was very heavy and more focused towards the metalcore genre. Was there anything that made you want to explore different genres specifically, or any influences?
S: A big part of the reason why it took so long for us to write this album was because we lost our vocalist, Michael. We had to go back to the drawing board and reassess what we felt our band was doing the best. For example, ask ourselves what makes Issues special? I think the first time we were writing music, all we were doing was writing, just sitting there and thinking, ‘ok, this sounds cool’. We sat down and thought about a mission statement. I think the goal for every album has been a true fusion, as opposed to our EP, which had metalcore parts, and a random trap break, or an R&B chorus. It had elements of everything, but it wasn’t one cohesive thing. I think the goal was to have better songs and focus explicitly on the song writing. The other goal was to create a cohesive sound in the middle of all the genres that we like.
B: You just mentioned that you lost a band member last year. What would you say has been the biggest challenge for you as a band, would this have been part of it?
J: Yes, but it had its positive elements! As far as writing goes, it made it a lot easier. It made our process more genuine. When we wrote together, we were all very involved in the writing process. What comes out is naturally going to be the new album. We are all really different now. Our past record was a lot more difficult to make, as we had to factor in that Michael’s vocals were purely screaming, and obviously we couldn’t leave him out of the songs. It ended up forcing us to write heavier parts into our music that maybe we didn’t want. It started feeling really forced.
S: It felt like, let’s use the analogy of a group project. Take the example of a group project in college, you have to create a job for someone who doesn’t really have anything to do. You and your best friend are doing the project, then this third person comes in and says, ‘can I join?’ and you say something like, ‘yeah, you can bring the snacks!’ It felt like that; it just wasn’t genuine.
J: It definitely didn’t start like that early on when we were first writing. I get we’re all very different people with very different music tastes. It’s been seven or eight years together as a band, we’ve all grown together. We didn’t feel that Michael wasn’t growing, we just felt that he wasn’t growing with us.
S: You put that very nicely!
E: So, on a different note, if you guys weren’t musicians, what would you be doing now?
S: Not musicians specifically. If Issues imploded tomorrow, we’d all be selling merchandise, you just get hired out. But if I wasn’t a musician, I would definitely want to be a field biologist or a herpetologist. That was my favourite thing from when I was ten to fifteen years old!
J: I don’t know man! I’ve been playing drums since I was two. Both my parents are musicians, so it’s always been this!
S: You’d probably be homeless!
J: I’d probably be in marketing if I wasn’t a musician.
E: If you had to choose a lyric or a song that you were most proud of, which would it be and why?
J: I think mine would be Here’s to You. It’s the first track on our new album.
S: I think mine would be Here’s to You or Find Forever. Find Forever was the first song that I’ve ever written in full that ended up being on the album. For whatever reason, I hated it! This was probably because I wrote it!
J: We had to convince him and be like, this is really good dude!
S: I’m seeing a lot of people coming back and saying they like it. Even if in my head I’m insecure about it, it is a lot of people’s favourite song, and that’s never happened to me before.
E: Finally, if you had to choose your top three influences, who would [they] be?
J: I think we all agree that The 1975 does a lot of things for us, not just musically but as a group. Loathe, Lotus Eater, Anderson Paak, I know that’s a couple more than three!
S: If I had to pick three personal ones, it would be Stevie Wonder, Loathe and the Cocteau Twins. Nobody knows the Cocteau Twins in the States, my British friend showed me them.
E: I’ve never met anyone here who’s heard of them, so to meet someone from the U.S who knows them is pretty impressive!
S: Our song, Here’s to You, started specifically because of the song, Fifty-Fifty Clown, by the Cocteau Twins. Our job is to listen to music as much as it is to make it, so we like to listen to a broad range of influences.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us!
Thank you for such great questions!
Written by Emma Gardner and Rebecca Harrison.