It’s been a whirlwind 18 months for Brighton-based pop punks As It Is. After founding a solid base in the form of last years ‘This Mind Of Mine; EP, the quintet ended 2014 on a high. First of all they become the first UK band to join Fearless Records (Real Friends, The Word Alive, Motionless In White) before heading to America to record their debut full-length with acclaimed producer James Paul Wisner (Paramore, Underoath). Now after being labelled as one of Already Heard’s bands to watch in 2015, ‘Never Happy, Ever After’ has arrived with stunning results.
With their brand of “happy sad pop punk”, As It Is have delivered a finely-tuned collection of songs filled with emotion and anthemic defiance. ‘Never Happy, Ever After’; is a worthy contender for pop punk album of the year, and so do the bands growing fan base. Having sneaked into the UK Album Chart Top 40 this past weekend, the release of ‘Never Happy, Ever After’ marks the beginning of a busy summer for As It Is.
With a UK co-headline run alongside This Wild Life leading into an appearance at the jam-packed Slam Dunk Festival next month, they’ll be going back overseas in June as they begin a two month trek across North America as part of the Vans Warped Tour. However before all of that Already Heard caught up with vocalist Patty Walters and guitarist Andy Westhead at the Hit The Deck Festival where they discussed the album, working with James Paul Wisner, becoming part of the Fearless Records family, and Warped Tour expectations. We also find out what it takes to stand out in a growing UK pop punk scene.
Already Heard: So your debut album, ‘Never Happy, Ever After’, is out this week. How does it feel to finally have it out?
Andy Westhead: It kind of feels like a relief a little bit. We’ve been sitting on it for ages, so it’s nice to actually let the world listen.
Patty Walters: I don’t know if it’s fair but I would compare it to giving birth. You raise this thing, you give lots and lots of love and after 9 months, it’s finally here. It’s something we can hold in our hands.
AH: I’ve read a few reviews, we gave it a 4.5 out of 5 rating.
Patty: That’s very very kind of you.
AH: How has the general feedback been?
Andy: It’s been really good.
Patty: Amazing! You can’t complain at all. It has just been very well received. We’re just very humble and greatful.
Andy: It is nice to know people like it.
AH: You recorded the album in America with James Paul Wisner. How was that?
Andy: It was good, really good. It was at his house. Monday to Friday for five weeks and a couple of Saturday’s in there as well. It was really cool. He’s recorded lots of bands like Dashboard Confessional and Underoath. He did ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety’ and that is a great album, so using the same guitars and amps and stuff like that was a bit overhwhelming. I was such a little fan girl about it and it was really cool.
Patty: This was our first experience of recording a record. With the previous EP we did 4 songs in 5 days. So this was entirely on a new scale. We juut learnt so much from being in that studio. It was an amazing experience. Definitely exhausting and demanding but it was great.
AH: What did he bring to the bands sound and the album overall?
Andy: He knows his gear. We didn’t fly anything out, any bits of gear. We used all his stuff and he knows how to make guitars sound good, drums great and vocals sound really crisp and clear. He’s a really good producer, and made sure everything cut through by adding textures, really building up the As It Is sound.
Patty: He also knew what he wanted you to produce. So if you weren’t performing how he wanted you to, you would be doing it over and over and over. That’s the kind of meticulous attitude you want in a producer. He kicked our asses pretty good.
AH: You want some to push yourselves and make you better.
Andy: Oh yeah! He did that.
AH: The album is being released through Fearless Records who you’re the first UK band to sign with. How did all come about?
Andy: We had a chat with our manager a year and bit ago. We discussed if one, we wanted to go with a label and two, if so, what labels would be right for us and they (Fearless) were at the top then our manager messaged us over Facebook saying they liked our EP and that they were interested. We were like ‘shut up’; and thinking whatever then ‘I think they’re going offer you a deal’ and we’re going to talk about it. We were surprised and said ‘oh ok that sounds good’. It was really as casual as that. They heard the EP, ‘This Mind Of Mine’; which we put out last March. I think they said they heard the potential for us and saw good things in our future. A bit Mystic Meg there but yeah.
AH: When I spoke to Real Friends last year and they talked about how Fearless focus on one release at a time rather than having multiple releases at once.
Andy: I think that is one thing Fearless does really, really right. They don’t have a huge roster of bands. They don’t clash releases with each other, it means pretty much everyone in the office is chipping in on your record. It means you’ve got this amazing team of people all pushing and throwing ideas trying to get the best for your record, which inevitably would get watered down or diminished if you’ve got so many different releases from other bands. I think they do it so right (by) having a smaller roster. I think it shows how well it works by looking through that Fearless roster, you know all the bands on there because they put the time and effort and really believe in all the bands on there. It’s really a pleasure to be part of it.
AH: Next month you’re out on tour with This Wild Life, Seaway and Boston Manor. Are you looking forward to it?
Andy: Very much so. We’re co-headlining with This Wild Life which should be nice seeing them. I’m looking forward to that. I sort of forget it’s the first tour since the record has been released and people have heard it. So hopefully the new songs go down well.
AH: For anyone who is considering coming to a show on the tour, why should the come?
Patty: I really love the line-up. I think it’s as eclectic as pop punk can get in a sense that you’ve got us that do happy sad pop punk; some happy songs with sad lyrics, Seaway keeping upbeat then This Wild Life keeping it acoustic and then Boston Manor who in my opinion are one of the best up and coming UK pop punk bands right now. I think it is just a really great line-up for a really night.
Andy: We like playing shows and I think that comes across as well. I think if you want to have a good time, then come to a show.
AH: Yeah so if you’re having a good time then everyone else is having a good time.
Andy: Yeah so lets have a good time together.
AH: Obviously that leads to Slam Dunk, that’s a great line-up this year.
Andy: Fucking incredible line-up! I don’t know really how they have done it. I’ve been the past 5 years as a fan, and this is the first year we’re playing. It’s a bit “bloody hell!” and you see all the other bands playing and you just hope you don’t clash with anyone.
AH: Is there anyone you really want to see there?
Andy: Yeah lots (laughs). Taking Back Sunday would be really cool to see as I’ve never seen them before so I’m excited about that. The Wonder Years are always great so I can’t wait to see them again. Neck Deep will be sweet.
Patty: I haven’t see H2O in about 6 years so I’m really looking forward to seeing them again.
Andy: Yeah they’re really good. Ben (Biss – guitarist) will be excited to see Pvris, he loves them. It’ll be nice to catch up with
the Set It Off boys too.
AH: Then after Slam Dunk you’re off on Warped Tour which is your return to the US as you were just over there recently with Set It Off, Against The Current and Roam. How was it playing the US for the first time?
Andy: It was really good. It was an eye-opening experience to just how small the UK really is. America is big, really big. We shared a little van with Roam. There were twelve of us in a fifteen seater for 6 weeks. It was cosy. There were arguements but it was good though. There was good friendships bonding. It was good friendships great.
Patty: It was such a great tour. We went into it without zero expectations. We were very pleasantly surprised most, if not all, of the nights. We made such good friends out there, and Roam we were already great friends with. It was such a good tour and to be doing the US again on Warped Tour is going to be so much fun.
AH: Are you doing the whole of Warped Tour?
Patty: Yeah the whole thing.
Andy: Two months!
AH: What advice have you been given from other bands about doing Warped Tour?
Patty: We’ve been given so much advice. We were just out in Europe with Silverstein. I think they said this will be their sixth time on Warped Tour, so they were telling us all types of good things. Set It Off were telling us some nice things, and Jonathan (Diener) from The Swellers was telling me some stuff yesterday. But yeah sun block is one of the big ones.
Andy: Sun block and being nice to people.
Patty: Yeah that is what everybody says. The nicer you are…
Andy: The nicer people are back to you.
AH: I always hear about the lack of showers on Warped Tour. Are you prepared or used to it?
Andy: I’m used to it now. We barely got any showers on the US run we’ve just done and at a certain point you stop caring. You wear a hat because your hair is disgusting, and you just try and cover up the smell with deodorant and you stop worrying.
AH: You’re part of a group of pop punk bands from the UK who are starting to make waves in America along with Neck Deep and Roam. What other bands that should or will be joining them?
Patty: Like I said I guess Boston Manor are a great band. I also really like The Gospel Youth, a Brighton band. I’m a big fan of their songs, they’re cool. There is our friends Trash Boat, they’re good boys. We did Europe with them and Trophy Eyes, that was a great tour it was really fun.
Andy: Milk Teeth are really good as well.
Patty: Milk Teeth are indeed very good. It seems crazy to think UK pop punk is now a hub of respected music. Like you said we’re the first UK band to sign to Fearless and Neck Deep were the first band to sign Hopeless and that was not that long ago. When we were talking about labels, it seemed ridiculous that UK bands could sign to a big alternative label. It has taken awhile but they’re now giving some respect to the UK pop punk scene which great. It is really good to see.
AH: Because there is so many bands coming out, what does it take to stand out?
Patty: Quite honestly it only stand out when there is some production value being put into these bands EPs. It’s amazing with the technology we have (that) you can record your own demos and own EP’s and albums these days…
Andy: …which we have done.
Patty: Yeah which we definitely did and we did a Kickstarter just to afford to do the EP properly. It makes a huge impression these days when you go on a bands page and there is production value behind great songs. But also bands with a good attitude towards touring. Just touring their asses off and having a good time during shitty situations, that makes a huge difference.
AH: Just putting the effort and treating people right.
Andy: I think it is one of those cliché’s but it is a cliché for a reason.
AH: Any closing comments to share?
Andy: Thanks for the 4.5 out of 5 on the album. Check out the record if you haven’t.
’Never Happy, Ever After’ by As It Is is out now on Fearless Records.
View more of Already Heard’s content from Hit The Deck 2015 here.
Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)