WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON
Although the roots of Issues were in pop punk and metalcore, the Georgia four-piece have come a long way since their original formation way back in 2012, developing, changing and twisting their sound till they’re almost unrecognisable from their early records. “The vibe is totally different,” remarked vocalist Tyler Carter of new album ‘Beautiful Oblivion’ which dropped Oct 4th via Rise Records.
Speaking to him backstage at the band’s recent sold out Manchester show, Tyler Carter (Vocalist) reflected on the changes the band has gone through recently. “I think we definitely wanted to be more experimental and try different things,” he said, adding that it was a “100% conscious decision…We used to be such a pop punk energy kind of band. A lot of jumping, a lot of spinning, that whole Warped Tour crowd…we’re trying to break away from that stigma a bit…It seems like our vibe now is just about feel good music.” The music on ‘Beautiful Oblivion’ is varied and unique, the band continuing to carve out such an original sound to the point that people are now using them as their own genre. “There’s been a whole lot of funny names for it like djazz, or R&B core. I just like the way our band name is now being used as a genre,” Tyler laughed. “People say ‘yeah we kinda like trap meets Issues’ or ‘we’re Issues meets pop’ or ‘Issues meets metal’ or whatever.”
“we’re trying to break away from that stigma…” – Tyler Carter
The band took their time with this record and with Tyler admitting that they “needed it” and “in the past we’ve made a record in a month.” Taking two years out to get their heads together after a band member change and to start the songwriting process for ‘Beautiful Oblivion’, they ended up with around 40 songs which they had to then whittle down and choose from. “You’re almost setting yourself up for success that way,” Tyler reflected, since they were able to pick the best of the best and come out with something really magical.
He also explained why the vibe of the lyrical content was different for this record too. “We were broke the whole time,” he said. “Living off savings and asking the label to give us money. Some of that took a toll because it’s hard to be creative and be unstable financially.” Although in the end, it was their tougher personal situations which ended up inspiring them, as hardship often does. “There was a lot of things going on around us, people in our lives going through stuff, death, breakups, personal things and emotions, depression and anxiety…adulthood sank in a little bit in the last three years so we definitely had a lot more of a muse for this record.”
In the past, Tyler admitted the band had paid too much attention to “strategy” and what they thought the fans and audience wanted to hear within their music. They would write songs specifically for circle pits, specifically for jumping up and down, and feel that everything had to be in that vibe or style. This time around, the band just “focused on being sick and making the best songs possible…As long as there’s a lot of authenticity and passion behind it then I think it’s ok to have a strategy but I think sometimes people strategise too much to where you lose the authenticity and there’s nothing raw about it.”
“It makes me wonder why we ever worried about it to begin with.”
That attitude, and all the hard work they put into the album certainly seems to have paid off though, with an overall positive reception to the new music. Now, Issues shows are this strange mix of metal, pop punk, pop, nu-metal, dance and R&B. “It makes me wonder why we ever worried about that to begin with…People are singing them really well and dancing…seems to be a good reception,” he said of the UK crowds, although apparently the audiences here are a little different from the ones Stateside. “Just some of the traditions…it’s been a different type of moshing and dancing.” Tyler also noticed the crowds on this latest tour have been a little older and more mature. “I know our fans have grown up a little bit but it seems like some of the newer fans coming in for the newer music are a bit more mature so it’s not exactly the same like…a crowdsurfing, moshing kind of crowd. It’s energetic, it’s jumpy, it’s fun, and there is some moshing but…we have songs that you can dance to now, and people are actually dancing. It’s like…these people are older and they’re not as afraid to have fun and express themselves.”
The move Issues made in expanding their genre is following what seems to be a growing trend for heavier rock bands to incorporate multiple genres, styles and sounds into their music. But Tyler thinks this trend isn’t a new thing, but rather a recycling of trends from the pasts. “In the 80s and 90s it was a lot more relaxed, there was a lot more freedom. Then look at the 70s even, with people like Bowie. I think, over time, rock got pushed out of pop culture a little bit…but now we see pop culture has opened its doors to rock n roll again. Emo music and metal has influenced rap music now, pop punk and emo culture has influenced pop artists, gothic music has influenced pop artists and fashion etc.”
If their recent UK tour was anything to go by, this shift in style won’t be any kind of issue for Issues. At their Manchester show, the crowd reacted so well to new single ‘Flexin’ they played it twice in a row with the rapturous fans grinding, bopping and dancing with their friends. “It’s the perfect timing of everyone shifting back to rock and pop culture opening its doors to metal again for bands like us who are tired of the formula and who want to start experimenting and hopefully actually be able to be successful when we do that.”
If you missed Issues on their recent UK tour, you can catch them on our shores again next year for Slam Dunk Festival.