Hailing from the seaside town of Brighton in the U.K, since they released their first full length album, ‘Never Happy, Ever After’ in 2015, As It Is have cemented themselves as real frontrunners in the pop punk scene. On May 17th, they released the first single The Wounded World from their upcoming album ‘The Great Depression’ debuting both a new sound, and a new look. Prior to the albums release, we chatted with frontman Patty Walters about the message behind the album, the band’s new look and the stigma around mental health.
As he was sipping on a decaf coffee and enjoying a day off from Warped Tour in Little Rock, Arkansas, I first asked Patty how the two new songs were being received, and if one was being received ‘better’ than the other. “We released The Wounded World first and foremost because The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry) takes a little bit more time to build as a song. We just thought The Wounded World was an all and out rock song that was going to get people’s attention.” He continued on to say “It’s been kind of neck and neck in terms of streams, and views and reactions. It took us a little by surprise that Boys Don’t Cry has done just as well as it has and it’s so well-received live. They’ve both been going down really well.
The first single, The Wounded World has such a loaded song title, and I asked Patty what exactly it meant to him. “The record as a whole is about the potential societal romanticisation of depression and mental health, whether we are not doing enough, or too much of a detrimental thing. That song in particular is about society in a larger view. It’s about how were so polarised, are opinions, our facts are different, it’s seemingly impossible to find common ground with someone you don’t have similarities with.” Patty also went on to say “we’re ultimately not able as a world to heal in regards to mental health but anything in between. We need to learn to listen to each other again and stop rejecting the opinions and alternative facts of other people. We need to come together as a people instead of separating ourselves by labels.
There’s a poster in a few scenes of The Wounded World which you can view here that the band auctioned off that featured some real life comments from fans on a picture of Patty with his new black hair on his Instagram and I asked him how he deals with those sorts of comments. “It’s interesting, the way I personally reacted to that was, I have a pretty thick skin, I’ve been in the public eye for about 5 years now. I’ve heard anything and everything said about me whether true or untrue and I didn’t think much of it.” He went on to say how his bandmates guitarist and vocalist Ben Langford-Biss, bassist Alistair Testo and drummer Patrick Foley, and the band management reacted to the comments. “They were quite annoyed about the response so we chose to make the parody tabloid poster and put it in the music video and then auctioned it off to an anti-bullying charity.” Finally he said “I don’t condone bullying, if it’s happening to anyone else it’s disgusting. Just because I can take it doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable. I think ultimately it was a fun way or turning a negative into a positive.”
Next we turned the conversation to the newest single The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry) and what the message behind the track is. “We saw such a response from the male and male identifying community at our shows, talking about my mental health, their mental health. How there is a stigma behind toxic masculinity, and being vulnerable and being human just like everybody else. We’re taught to man up and taught to grow a pair.” “It’s about gender roles and societal expectations and really just rejecting conformity in that sense and doing what’s best for you and only yourself.” We also talked about the music video, and whose idea it was. “That’s really interesting, we worked with Josh and Dan of Our World Is Grey and we’ve worked with them on a number of videos in the past. The whole kind of brief was us in the band, our manager and Josh & Dan. Both videos were filmed a day apart. We actually shot The Stigma first but released it second.
Having touched on mental health before in tracks like Hey Rachel from their previous album ‘okay’, I asked Patty why he thought it was so important to discuss mental health on this album. “I guess I can’t say for certain, I can definitely say they’re important to me and the people in this band and talking about things that are bigger than myself and my struggles are becoming increasingly important for this band.” Pausing, he then went on to say “Ultimately these songs are for us, it’s so incredible that there’s so many people around the world that support this band and resonate with our messages and lyrics. I don’t think we’d be making ourselves proud if we weren’t writing about these topics.”
We then began to talk more about the album and I asked Patty what his favourite song off ‘The Great Depression’ is. “Actually interesting there’s so many that I really love but one that’s hugely sentimental for us is called ‘The Reaper’ featuring Aaron Gillespie. Growing up Underoath was such a phenomenal influence for us. Almost part of As It Is history. We went with the producer for our first record because he produced the Underoath record ‘Chasing Safety’.” I also asked Patty if they wrote the track together, or just with him in mind. “It was with him in mind, so we wrote it and sent him the song and the instrumental. My favourite thing about his performance is that he changed so much about it and added so many nuances to suit his vocals. The creative liberty he took really makes the song in my opinion.”
I then asked Patty what his advice was for fans when they came and spoke to him about their mental health after shows. “I don’t necessarily jump to give anybody advice, I don’t know how to give myself advice half the time, I’m still discovering myself. If it’s coming from a place of honesty then it’s likely to resonate with somebody in some capacity.” Taking a moment to catch his breath, Patty then went on to say. “These are our truths and if you relate then that’s great at the end of the day.”
Talking further about the album, I asked Patty where the title ‘The Great Depression’ came from. “The title came before everything. It was this all-encompassing idea to right about depression and mental health. We had so many conversations with fans about mental health and it took a bit of a toll on the band and myself being part of that conversation and hearing such heartbreaking stories.” Discussing it further, Patty continued and said “I wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing. I’d never want to be a part of something that was ultimately abhorrent or something I disagreed with. It started off as a question and whether or not it was worth talking more about mental health and depression. It was this idea that had endless possibilities so we jumped in and the record took us where it did.”
Finally, I asked Patty what the one message is that he wants people to take away from ‘The Great Depression’. “With ‘Okay’ we encouraged everyone to be open and honest and to never be ashamed to invulnerable or imperfect. We encouraged people to talk. With this record, I want to encourage people to listen. We as a society need to listen to each other. It’s very important that we’re all listening to each other and giving the people that are around us the things they need.”
Pre-Order your copy of The Great Depression out on August 10th via Fearless Records/Caroline Australia HERE!