As It Is are heading down under on a ten date Australian tour to celebrate the release of their new album Okay (featuring the new single No Way Out) out on January 20. Patty Walters spoke to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about the album and the challenges that come with writing and recording a new album.
What was your immediate reaction when you played the final masters back for the first time? Were there high fives all round?
When we heard the final masters it was this beautiful moment of relief and closure because you put so much time and blood, sweat and tears in to writing a record that lasts for months. There is no nine to five aspect to writing a record because creativity finds you when it does.
Sometimes it is very early in the morning or very early in the evening. It is that blessing and a curse of your last hour in the studio or the last mix, for better or worse it is done. Luckily we’re all incredibly pleased with it but when it is done it is done, you can’t take it! It was a huge feeling of relief to have it done and a lot of excitement as well.
How did the process work for As It Is?
We started writing the record in February and we weren’t in the studio until early July. We had a few months leading up to the studio time. To get this record as fully formed as possible we knew going in to this album, like most bands do, we wanted to push ourselves from our last one and decided early on musically and lyrically to push ourselves to be mature and grow. I think that is why the record sounds the way that it does, musically we have gotten poppier and simultaneously darker in a lot of aspects.
Lyrically we have got a lot more personal and really have pushed ourselves lyrically to go beyond our comfort zone and open up and share things that we haven’t even shared with each other in the band. That has produced some really special moments in these songs for us. In a lot of respects it was similar, in a lot of respects it was also more challenging. I think that is a pretty good combination.
Is the second album blues something that was ever considered or talked about?
It was totally scary! When you have written a debut record you’re really proud of, you have to write this first song that is strong enough to feel like we are moving in the right direction because you have a very high expectation of yourself to display some growth. Half way through writing the record we all hit some pretty serious doubts where we were thinking I hope these songs are good enough because they are the songs going on the record, there’s no other way! We used that doubt to write songs more than slow us down I suppose.
It is a scary and stressful time writing a record and you care so much about that project, you spend months doing it, you want it to be the best it can be, you just don’t want to write something that is going to be adequate. We put a tonne of pressure on ourselves as we compare it to our previous work or work that we have admired and we want to get it closer to that. It is a total minefield writing a record.
Do you have spend as much time on the strategy to release the album and how that will work given the complexities of the industry now?
Certainly, more so given it is such an over saturated music scene which is potentially detrimental to our own band. I love the fact that there is so much music out there and so many incredible bands and artists out there. Not only is it harder than ever to just drop a record but you have all these incredible bands and artists to compete with at the same time. I think you have to try hard to write something special and get everyone’s attention.
Does it feel like trying to win the lottery when it comes to writing a single?
The thing that is always difficult about that for us is we’re never writing a song being this may this going to be our hit. We’re always writing songs that mean something to us and songs that we are proud of. It has never been like let’s write this single today, let’s write the single that is going to propel us to the top of the charts. If that happens it won’t be directly because we wrote the song to do that. More so that we’ve written a song that we are proud of and that more people liked it than our previous stuff.
What was the biggest thing you learnt about yourself during the writing and recording process?
The biggest thing I learnt about myself is how easily frustrated I get! The greatest experience for me was working and writing with our co-producer Mike Green because I considered song writing to be my strongest strength in this band and my only strength. I really enjoy song writing and I feel a sense of pride. To write with someone that I admire that much, who has written and co-written songs that I have grown up listening to that was a really great experience for me. I really value that happened.
What do you think drove the band to record something more poppier and darker as you described?
There were two things simultaneously that resulted in that. Firstly, when we started writing this record we wanted to all be moving in the same direction in the sense that we wanted to pick a reference album where a band can show how they moved to their next record. For us the appropriate reference is Blink 182 transitioning from Take Off Your Pants and Jacket to their self titled record which if you listen to it in many ways a poppier and darker record.
The other thing that contributed to our record being poppier and darker is that from the get go banned the phrase “that doesn’t sound very much like As It Is”. Therefore, every person in this band was free to experiment and bring anything to the table. If it didn’t sound like an As It Is song that didn’t matter, we would consider it and see it through and make it an As It Is song. There are songs on this record that aren’t going to sound like the others you would expect to hear if all you’ve heard is our previous work. I’m proud of the fact that we didn’t let our doubts slow us down and some of these stranger songs are some of my favourite songs on this record. There were no limits as to where the songs could go. I think that is why the record sounds the way it does.
Do you need an alternate name like As It Was?
We’ve often talked about our country side project that might happen someday and that’s where the other songs will get finished and end up going to.
Single No Way Out
As It Is Australian Tour Dates
Jan 31 YMCA Hq, Perth
Feb 01 Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Feb 02 The Brightside, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Feb 03 The Lab, Woolloongabba, Brisbane
Feb 04 Factory Floor, Sydney
Feb 05 The Lair, Sydney
Feb 07 Drone, Newcastle
Feb 10 Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne
Feb 11 Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne
Feb 12 Fowler’s Live, Adelaide