"It’s kind of a 'gleeful middle-finger to everything’ sentiment, because that's exactly what this project was." - Alex Gaskarth.
Today's the day! Simple Creatures brand new EP 'Everything Opposite' is officially out in the world, and only six months after their first one! Alex Gaskarth and Mark Hoppus aren't wasting any time with their collaborative project, and 'Everything Opposite' really feels like Simple Creatures have found their creative stride.
In celebration of its release today, we asked Alex to talk us through each of the six tracks on the EP. Over to Alex:
“That song was just a party, it's one of my favourites. We kind of we found ourselves writing about a lot of the darker things and moments in our in our lives, and the lives around us, and observations that we've made as people that tour and travel for a living. A lot of those themes were explored lyrically throughout all of this material, and so on ‘Special’ we kind of resolved to that moment of throwing off the depression blanket and being like, ‘Fuck it, I'm going out even though I'm not at the top of my game right now’, like, ‘I gotta shake this off’. That's how we came to land on ‘I want to feel special’, because everybody does. It's this mantra of ‘I'm gonna be okay, I'm gonna make sure that I'm okay’.
"There's parts of it that's deeply personal, and then there's parts of it that are more observed. I was having a bad day and I was stressing out about a bunch of things - I wasn't happy at the time, with a number of things going on. I just felt in a funk. I realised the irony of that when I was going on my third year of having a house in California, and I was like, ‘Man, I still have a house in Baltimore, who am I to be upset about anything, I have it so good!’. It was just a cool, self reflective moment - if you can have all these things and not be happy, maybe the things aren’t the problem, or maybe things are the problem! You know, it's like maybe you just need to get back to basics.”
'ONE LITTLE LIE'
“It was this general concept of, again, the things that you do to to find happiness - and sometimes that means fooling yourself into it. It was one of the tracks that we did with Dylan [Bauld] actually, he just brought a slightly different flavour to everything we were doing. That song in particular, Mark really came in hot with the verses that day. I feel like he had a lot of that written, and played it on acoustic guitar in the room then we built the track up around it - it was already very established in his mind as to what he was saying and what he was seeing. One of the things I like most about this project is because there's two people writing the lyrics, the themes are being explored in two minds at once. I think sometimes we come up with some really interesting ways to play off each other, and because he had so much of that song written I went off into another room for a minute and wrote the chorus without thinking too much about what he had just said.
"I was exploring the darker sides and feelings of the human process, and I let myself go to those places. I think writing songs a lot of the time is one of the things that really helps pull me out of that, and this one in particular was a way to analyse a feeling that I didn't fully understand. I got to put it down in words, and then Mark’s words helped me make more sense of it, and I think there's something very interesting in that. We wrote the song, and it did what a song does for you when you hear it for the first time - but in this case I was writing it. There's been a lot of eureka moments. It's definitely one of those things where this project has opened a lot of doors, in the sense of we said exactly what we meant to say the first try, and I think there's something very special about that.”
“That was another one that was early on in the process for this project - I think it was maybe the second song that we wrote under the umbrella of Simple Creatures, or what was becoming Simple Creatures. We’d both been off tour for a while, and we were going down this road of exploring validation and what you do with yourself when you're not on the road and not being cheered for. You’re just the person taking out the trash at six in the morning, and going to get coffee for your family. That’s the best thing ever, but at the same time you're just not used to it again - you just come home and there's a transitional period of like, ‘Okay, nobody gives a shit who I am right now’ (laughs). There’s a weird mind fuck that goes along with that. Not to sound like an egotist or anything, but it is an adjustment period of going from playing sold out shows around the world, to then a completely different pace of life - and for me was it about that calling, you know, that you feel when you're sort of at home. It's when you're laying in bed, and you're like, ‘Weird that I didn't play a show today’. You know, your heart's pounding and kind of like if you work out every day and then you miss a workout, you still get the adrenaline rush.”
“For me ‘The Wolf’ is very much the weirdo of this of this EP. We kind of Frankenstein’d the song together from a few different ideas, and it just got cooler and cooler the more things we tacked on, and it was very fairytale where we went with it. We imagined this weird, dark scenario of the monster under your bed and wrote that (laughs). It's a hard one to explain because it's a little more out there but it’s just embracing the weird. The further we went down the rabbit hole, and the weirder and more chopped and screwed the song got, the more ‘Oh shit’ moments there were in the studio. Sometimes you get magic and sometimes you get garbage, but like the time that you twist the knob and get like the really cool sound was like those, those eureka moments I was talking about. You get like one chance to do it and then it's like, ‘Okay, that's it’. You're not ever going to get that again. So it was that was a fun one because it just happened very organically.”
“I kind of imagined it as this sort of struggle of like ‘Are you the good guy or the bad guy in this story?’ - I think that's something that's an interesting angle to explore. It's like the hero that gets to the end of the movie and realises that they're the villain - I think that there's something just cool about that imagery, and so it was something that we wanted to explore a little bit in the themes of the music. It's a story about a breakup and someone walking out on someone else in its simplest form, but I think the twist is that it's like, who was at fault? And why did the other person leave? It's like coming home to a letter that’s saying goodbye. It's like, is that person breaking your heart and betraying you? Or are they leaving because they're running the fuck away from you? We wrote 'NVM' first, and then I think ‘The Wolf’ stemmed from that same theme - like an answer to 'NVM'.
“It kind of calls upon the idea of people being away from home, and that duality of being a musician - but it might have been a little more subconscious, but that duality is definitely throughout the entire album. Those seeds, like I said, that's kind of a bigger picture theme that we explored a lot through these songs. And again, some of it was self referential, and some of it was personal, and then other parts of it were the things that I've seen, and that we've observed in others throughout our careers and our lives, and how it affects people. And I think it was just something that we hadn't touched on as artists before. So it was it was a cool thing to explore.”
'THANKS, I HATE IT'
“It's one of my favourite songs we've done for this project - it’s kind of a 'gleeful middle-finger to everything’ sentiment, because that's exactly what this project was. I don't want to say that it's a direct response to like the haters, because I think that's a bit pedantic and, you know, a tried method. But I think what I love about the song is that it came really naturally. I think we were sitting and reading Mark’s Instagram comments, which, you know, you never go into the YouTube comments section - it's the dark place, like in the Lion King movie - you never go there. And so we made the mistake of going in there, and just read a bunch of shitty comments. And we were like, you know what? Fuck it. Let's write about that, and that’s how that song came to be. I remember that was really fun, because Mark had an electronic drum set in his basement studio, and I sat down at the beginning of the day and started playing that, and actually the beat from the song came from that - it was just me sitting there kind of tapping out a beat for fun, and Zakk [Cervini] happened to press record. And we built the whole song off that.”
Pick up your world exclusive copy of Simple Creatures' EP 'Everything Opposite' on cassette below: