Monday, December 20, 2010
Forever the Sickest Kids Interview with Jonathan Cook(Vocals) and Austin Bello (Guitar/Vocals)
Even though no one booked them at that convention, FTSK went on to take over the scene and have a great deal of mainstream success. I had a chance to speak with Jonathan and Austin before their show in Atlanta…
How has the tour been so far?
Jonathan: The tour has been good so far. We have seen a lot of kids that we haven’t seen in a few years, because we are going to a lot of cities that we haven’t been to, or ones we haven’t been to in a long time. It is good to see fans bring out three or four friends that we’ve never met before.
Last time I saw you guys here, you put on a great energetic show. Who are some guys that you have looked up to in the past as far as live performance goes?
Austin: Band wise? For me, I saw New Found Glory in 2000 on Warped Tour. They are always running around, always getting the crowd jumping and acting crazy.
Jonathan: I hate to be cliché, but for me it would have to be Fall Out Boy. I remember the specific time when they played this venue in Dallas (Texas) called Trees, and there is a tree stump onstage. Joe Pearlman was kicking off of it and doing spins, incredible. Oh and Story of the Year.
Your EP “Friday” has been out for a little over a year now, are you planning to release “Saturday” soon?
Austin: Check it out, this is what’s happening. We went in to record five songs with David Bendeth for “Saturday,” and while we were in there recording we relaxed that this was the best stuff that we had made yet and we didn’t want to just put this out on an EP. We took a little bit more time, and recorded five or six more, with different producers. We will probably release it early next year, at the end of February or the beginning of March. It will be a full-length, self-titled release.
What about the “Weekend Series” concept, are you going to continue with it?
Austin: Still there. “Saturday” will be in a different format. Make acoustic, maybe techno…
Jonathan: Could be Christmas, techno or covers. You never know.
Some bands are making the switch to only EP’s, to keep their material fresh and the listeners happy. Is that what you were shooting for with the “Weekend Series?”
Jonathan: Our drummer actually had the idea to do an album in three parts, but it just kept getting extended. The album was going to be forty songs if we kept doing it, so we decided to put a halt to it. It takes so long to get everything approved with six band members and a major record label; it’s just easier to put it out in one big group for us. Rather than try to put out another EP and then wait a year and a half to wait for a third one to come out, we said “let’s try and write ten or twelve more songs and throw five more on an album and go.”
So is the full-length completed?
Austin: It is as of a week ago, we finished the album right before we went on this tour.
Jonathan: You are probably the first, or second interview that we have done where we have released that information.
What would you say this full-length is bringing to the table, that is different than the full-length and EP’s in the past?
Austin: I would say that it is more like “Underdog, Alma-Mater,” with more of a “rock” edge. Some songs are a little harder, bigger guitars, a little bit meaner, more crowd involved if we are playing live. We still have a little bit of dance-feel to it though. We stayed ourselves.
Jonathan: When we were picking a producer for the style that we wanted to go for, we picked a rock-and-roll producer. A guy that is known for his “wall of sound,” his guitars just scream on the albums he makes. David Bendeth is really known in this scene for doing Paramore’s “Riot!,” and he has even worked with Breaking Benjamin and a bunch of different rock bands. We think that this album is going to sonically, one of the best albums that we have put out.
You mentioned crowd involvement earlier, when describing the new songs. Do you guys have the live show in mind when writing new songs?
Austin: It’s weird, we have always written to how we want to write. For example, what story is going on in our head, some of that is personal to us. The music is whatever what we listen to that is catchy and a lot of that is upbeat stuff that happens to translate live.
Jonathan: When you are getting guitars that are harmonizing, it’s going to be catchy. When you have vocals that are harmonizing, it comes out in a really sing-along fashion.
When you guys were in the studio, or writing the record, were there any artists that you were listening to that may have influenced the record?
Austin: For me personally, I try not to get a lot of music in my head, because it might just pop out. Especially when it comes to listening to vocals, or how to sing, you want it to be you. You want the emotion to be you.
Jonathan: We put on blinders, if you will. We call them the studio blinders.
Being Christian guys, how did you decide that the “mainstream” music scene was a good fit?
Austin: I think that we all believe in being ourselves. Even if someone else is not a Christian, we want them to be who they are. Even though we are Christians that are writing songs about breaking up with girls, or our struggles, it still means something that is real to us. We always try to portray love to our fans, its kind of our thing. We will wake up sometimes in the morning and do Bible studies, its just something that is in our hearts that the Lord has put us here for a reason.
Jonathan: Another good thing is that if you pigeon hole yourself in a certain kind of music, you might lose a lot of interest from non-Christians. Like Austin said, the best thing to do is be true to ourselves, and that’s what we have done and I am really glad that people are noticing. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.