"I love that we can push out different sounds, and people are still like, ‘That’s Magnolia Park’."
Magnolia Park have had quite the 2021, and they are ending it in some style.
The band have just signed to Epitaph and are releasing a new mixtape 'Halloween' this week (October 29), and believe us when we say that it will include some of your favourite pop-punk songs of the year. Familiar yet fiercely fresh, vibrant yet vulnerable, the band push as far as they can go in every direction and come out with something that feels as striking as it does genuinely exciting.
To talk through it, we sat down with vocalist Joshua Roberts and found out how it feels to be where they are...
From where you guys were at the start of 2021 to where you will be finishing it, how does it feel to be releasing a mixtape like this on a label like Epitaph?
"It’s kind of surreal. A year ago, we were in the middle of a pandemic and working away in a studio working away at songs that we hoped would be working. Then boom, we go on tour with Lil Lotus at the end of August this year, and Epitaph, all of a sudden, hit us up. Like, okay. Let’s do this. Let’s go. It’s been a steamrolled experience ever since, so we haven’t had the chance to slow down and enjoy the fruits of our labour yet. We know we have a lot of work to do."
Within that idea of not slowing down and stopping grinding, just because of where you are now doesn’t mean that mindset can shift. You’ve got to keep on working in the same way…
"Yeah, and since we have gotten signed, it feels like we have been working harder. We’re not competing with other bands and peers in our area. We’re now competing with nationally and internationally known bands. We have to step up to try and reach those levels to then compete with them realistically. We’re not stopping until we get there, and even when we get there, we’re not slowing down."
So concerning this new mixtape, a few tracks initially appeared on the ‘Dream Eater’ mixtape from earlier this year. Where did the additional new songs that you have here come into play? What was made you pick this selection as the right ones for this moment?
"There was a lot of deliberating on what we were going to release. I think there are four that we decided not to, just because it didn’t feel like the right fit for this time. We structured it to the way that a story would play out. We want to make sure that there is some story or timeline behind everything that we do. So with the songs that we have now all sound perfect together. But then we have a particular song at the end called ‘Kids Like Us’, which I think will be an eyeopener for a lot of people who don’t see situations through the same eyes as us. It will be very interesting to see how people take that song on."
That is a moment where things shift. You have this manifesto of what Magnolia Park will sound like, and then you have this song that changes the tone and represents more what you will be standing for. It’s a compelling moment…
"When we were writing that song, Tristan [Torres] and Freddie [Criales] came to me with the instrumental, and we decided that we wanted something truly real to go over the top of it. So we sat there, thought about it and talked about the realness. The second verse actually happened to me, and the first verse came from Tristan and Freddie. But the whole thing came from us wanting to speak from the heart because that will go a lot further than we could ever really imagine. There’s a lot of people out there who still feel alone, no matter how much they hear people saying it. But we are trying to advocate and prove that you aren’t alone going through these things."
That goes a long way to shattering expectations that people may have of pop-punk bands and the members of pop-punk bands. And that carries the genre forward in a way that bands should carry it…
"Absolutely, that’s it. That’s how it is with us. It’s not just a whole new wave of something that has come before. It’s real music that we want to portray in our own way, and that’s something that we are always going to be doing. We want to push the envelope and present things that many bands in our scene, unfortunately, don’t talk about because they aren’t in that position. It’s about shedding as much light as we can."
But something else that Magnolia Park do well is showing how you shouldn’t let the worries of the world get in the way of you living. Is that an idea that has always been a part of the blueprint?
"Even back on our first EP ‘Vacant’, we spoke like, ‘Hey, I’m not okay, but it’s okay not to be okay’. In today’s day and age, people seem to believe that if you’re not okay, there must be something wrong with you. Help yourself find a way to try and feel better, whether through friends or family or passions. But at that moment when you’re not feeling it, that’s okay. We are so obsessed with perfection these days and doing everything correctly and not making any mistakes. It loses the fact that making mistakes is part of what makes you perfect. The duality of everything that the world is trying to go against is needed within our lives."
You are already thinking two steps ahead of where we are now, but with the ‘Halloween’ mixtape out in the world, what is the future now looking like? What is exciting to you about the next step?
"I’m always the most excited about how we can push things sonically. We do a really good job of pushing the boundaries and pushing different sounds, but even with the new stuff we are working on, it’s us but so different. I love that we can push out different sounds, and people are still like, ‘That’s Magnolia Park’. I think that it’s going to be really cool."
And with the position that you are in now, how important has it been to have Magnolia Park play such a pivotal role in your life? How does it feel when you know that your belief in it has allowed you to get here?
"It’s just incredible. We were just kids stuck in a room playing music, and now we are going to major writers and producers. I’ve seen so many other bands blow up, and now I can’t believe that it’s us. So many people are looking at us that we can’t mess up or fumble now. We just keep on going."