"People know that they can still come and see Breathe Carolina in a nightclub and it will still feel punk rock." - Breathe Carolina's David Schmitt.
Here's the big news no one was expecting - Breathe Carolina are BACK. They disappeared from the scene for a hot minute to travel the EDM world - but they're back in the scene, and they're combining all of their experiences to bring together rock and EDM like few have done before.
They've just dropped their new single 'Too Good', which you can check out below. We caught up with David and Tommy to talk through what they've learned in their time in the world of EDM, and what the future has in store for Breathe Carolina.
So, after years of travelling the world and conquering the EDM world, what was it about right now that seemed like the perfect time for you to come back into the rock world?
Says David: "The thing is that we weren’t really planning anything for this album - we were just in the studio and I started singing again and it was just a vibe. Very organically we just decided to keep going on this vibe and see what happened. We weren’t aiming to go back or do anything in particular, it all just happened. So when we had a couple of songs we realised it was touching on some of the older stuff, but it also felt very new with our 2019 production. It’s weird and unexpected but we are definitely excited by it."
Tommy: "I think when we were making these songs, we were more trying to stick out within the dance scene. There’s nobody in the dance scene singing songs like this with a voice like Dave. While we were thinking that, we realised that there is nobody in our old scene doing things with this sort of production. We have two fan bases so we are hoping that this sound can join the two together with this sound. So it’s about sticking out in the club scene as well as sticking out in the Warped scene."
David: "Like even when we were making these songs, we didn’t even know exactly what it sounded like. It was just a case of us just rolling with it."
Tommy: "We’ve never been afraid of mixing metal and dance music though - there was a folk song on ‘Savages’ as well. We are always in the space that if we like it and it sounds good, then that’s all that matters. It doesn’t necessarily have to sound like anything in particular."
What has your time touring the world as an EDM act taught you?
David: "Well, on the touring side of things it’s completely different to rock music. On this side of things we fly everywhere rather than jumping in a van with a load of people. If anything, it’s taught us that there are two different ways of doing things - even if choose to do rockier stuff, we can decide to fly somewhere and use local production rather than bringing our own things with us."
Tommy: "Also, compared to the rock world the EDM scene is a lot more DIY. We used to get a schedule from Fearless [Records], we weren’t really involved in the artwork, and we weren’t really involved in the business side of things. Now we’ve taken over everything with our management team - we deliver all of the artwork, we come up with all of the concepts, and we come up with the show visuals. Before it was still us, but that was more of us just delivering a message to Fearless or something. Now it is literally just me and Dave coming up with absolutely everything - the DJs in this scene are so much more in control of their brand."
How does it feel for you being able to show each side of your fan base how the other side works then? It’s quite a unique position to be in where you can introduce rock fans and dance fans in such a personable way...
David: "It’s funny - we’ve had kids coming up to us at shows and saying ‘this is the first time we’ve ever been in a night club, we didn’t know what to expect’. The thing is that the energy that we put into playing a full EDM show is still very punk rock - it’s still very energy and still very fun. With that, it’s all about bridging that gap. It’s letting people know that they can still come and see Breathe Carolina in a nightclub and it will still feel punk rock."
Tommy: "The thing as well is that even before I joined the band, when David was playing Warped Tour 2012, between each song he wasn’t talking like every other band - he was playing things like Skrillex and doing drops. So he was essentially doing what we are doing right now, but just that little bit different. We were the danciest act in the rock world, and now we are rockiest band in the dance world."
So, what was it about ‘Too Good’ that felt like the right song to kick off this era with?
David: "‘Too Good’ was actually the first song that we recorded for this album and batch of songs, and it always just stood out. It kind of hits absolutely everything - it feels new, it feels old, it’s a little poppier than some of the other stuff yet still has a bit of edge to it. It just felt like a good blend of everything."
What was it like actually writing lyrics again in the way you used to? How did it feel on an emotional level?
David: "It was sick! When we started writing for this record, it was such a natural emotion that was coming out - it all came from a really natural reaction. It was weird as well though, because we haven’t really touched into that in a long time. It felt great though. It’s all real life shit that we are singing about. After a while we took a step back and said ‘all these songs are pretty sad aren’t they' - even the poppiest ones have this weird darkness to them. We just kept on the vibe though - every day we would open up a chord progression and see what would come out. We didn’t have top-line writers in there with us, we didn’t have anyone telling us to make things poppier or not. It was just us."
Tommy: "Yeah, we really didn’t overthink anything. It was just Dave stood in a room with microphone just freestyling stuff. Some of those takes are what you hear on the tracks. It was all based on emotion - if it felt good, we didn’t stick to a line for five hours. If it sounded good and felt good then we moved on."
That’s a style of writing music that really harks back to those first few songs you pen in your bedroom as a kid. You don’t fret over it too much, you just follow your heart and instinct...
David: "Yeah, that’s a really nice way of putting it. It’s really easy to overthink songs and overthink lyrics. Are people going to connect? Are people going to like this? Is it going to be suitable for radio? We didn’t have any of those sorts of thoughts. We didn’t set out to create a radio song or a song that our old fans would love - it’s all just incredibly natural."
Who do you feel like Breathe Carolina are in 2019 compared to who they were in 2014?
David: "Shit that’s a crazy question - I think right now we are much more aware. Back then when we were making ‘Savages’ we didn’t have that control. We were just making the songs and sending them, and then we would be told what was happening. Now we are older, smarter, more aware - we are in control of this. If something doesn’t work then it’s more so on us rather than us blaming our label or our management for something. We are more in tune with what is going on and why it’s going on - I think that’s going to make this whole process of releasing a whole album. It’s going to make such a huge difference."
Tommy: "We also have a lot more air miles now."
What do you ultimately want this album to represent for Breathe Carolina?
David: "I think this whole album is going represent the whole of our career, from Day one to now. If you have ever been a fan of Breathe Carolina, unless you only love the screaming side, you will find something that you like. From ‘It’s Classy, Not Classic’ through to ‘Savages’ then throughout all of the dance stuff that we have been making, I just hope that this album represents our full discography. It represents a little piece of absolutely everything that we have done."
Does making music this way feel right for you? Is that why it feels like the right time to be trying these things?
David: "Yeah, it really does. I don’t even know why we even decided to do this right now but for whatever reason it feels good."
Tommy: "To really push it home, there was no meeting about an album. There was no conversation. We made ‘Too Good’, then we made a few more songs, then all of a sudden we had five songs so decided to make an EP, then we had 10 so we had an album. We weren’t in the position to do this before really - I wouldn’t say that we have conquered the dance scene, but we’ve done it. We did Tomorrowland and all of the other big festivals, we’ve sold out all the clubs, we did all of those things on the rock side as well. Now it feels like we are at a point where we are established enough on both sides where we can bring both together. We aren’t the new guys in dance, we aren’t the new guys in the scene - now we are at a point in our careers where we can swing on both sides of the fence and do everything together."