"It feels like on the last album people weren’t talking enough. I would rather people be talking shit and talking good just to hear people talking about it." - Tyler Carter.
In the wake of ISSUES releasing their first new music since 2016, and with the promise of a new album on the horizon, we took the chance to talk to Tyler Carter about new music, a new album, and an all new ISSUES.
How does it feel to back on it properly after such a long time?
“It feels good. When we were over in the UK with Don Broco on their little arena tour we started shaking off the rust. We’ve only been doing festivals for the last year and we only did Warped Tour while we were on hiatus making this new album. It’s definitely good to be back at it.”
And more than anything, how does it feel having new music out after three years alongside the reaction it has received?
“We can only try to keep our expectations low. We’re proud of everything we do but we try to keep them low so we aren’t disappointed if things don’t take off immediately. Everything is hard work. You’ve got to work for it. You’ve really got to put the time to help people digest it and promote it and show people just what you have worked so hard on. But to see the reaction going over so well and so quick, I haven’t felt this way about our band in a really long time. I’ve been very proud and invested in everything that we have done over the last few years but I can say I haven’t felt this way maybe since the self-titled album came out. We all know that did a number of things for our band and went over really well. To see a reaction almost to the same magnitude as when we first came out just feels like we are doing the right thing. It feels like everything is falling into place and that’s something to be excited about.”
You can see how much it means to the entire band how much it means to finally have this song out there for everyone to hear. That’s an emotion that can’t be taken for granted.
“Definitely. Now we can only be more excited for the next single and furthermore for the album. It’s a really beautiful thing. Even the people who are talking shit about it are giving us inspiration. It feels like on the last album people weren’t talking enough. I would rather people be talking shit and talking good just to hear people talking about it. The fact that people are even noticing at all is huge because it feels like for a bit people just overlooked our band. We were underrated for a while.”
What was it that made you choose ‘Tapping Out’ to open the doors to this new era for the band?
“I’m not really exactly sure if there is anything that spoke to us in terms of ‘this is the one’ - I think that my band will agree that we don’t think this is the strongest song on the album. It’s not necessarily the best or our favourite either but we felt like it represented a lot about the record. It’s got pretty heavy guitars while going a little bit more prog and the pop, almost R&B top line and yet people expect Issues to still have some of that Issues flavour with the screaming and the breakdowns as well. I feel like this song represented all of that. It represented what we wanted to convey on the new record and also represented a bit old Issues. There’s that classic Issues that you learned to love on the first record but sets you up for the next era. I will say that it’s one of the heavier songs on the record. Yet there are couple of songs that are tuned a little lower.”
It feels like the perfect transition.
“Exactly. You are obviously going to get people who will say ‘if they were going to stay the same with screaming then why did they fire their other guy’. We respect how people feel about that but it is what it is. We’re trying to move forward and leave the past in the past. Frankly AJ did a fantastic job of screaming when it called for it. Within the whole album it didn’t always call for it. We don’t want to just put screaming on songs just to do it. It has to really need it. It makes it more special too. When a song calls for it then it makes more of an impact. I really love the more genre-bending vibe that we fell in love with at the start of Issues but now when we really need that one song which makes you feel that way we want to be able to go to it. You don’t have to feel that way with every single song.”
Where does that lead in terms of the new elements that you are incorporating into the Issues sound?
“I think that it gives much more room to connect with the actual lyrics. There are some songs on the record that are very emotional and heart driven and they do have riffs, but they may not necessarily have a huge breakdown ‘open this shit up’ throw down. That doesn’t mean that the song isn’t heavy or doesn’t have complex riffs. What people love about this band are the jazz influences and polyrhythms and the metric modulations. These are the things that music nerds love about Issues. It’s things that the general public may not totally understand but when they hear it they know that it’s heavy. Now it may just not have screaming over it. That’s a common misconception that people need to understand. Screaming is not what makes a song heavy. It plays a part but how much in the past 10 years have we heard screaming completely misused? Screaming over a pop chorus just because. That’s not heavy. That song isn’t heavy just because you’re screaming over it. It was just a scene thing. It was a scene infatuation to put screaming over everything. Now I feel like we are putting it where we feel it is necessary. So just expect it all to be heavy and groovy but just has that smooth r n b vocal that people have grown to love.”
Lyrically, what does ‘Tapping Out’ represent?
“Tapping Out’ is a bit of a more metaphorical song. The song is themed around fighting where a few phrases and moments hold it all around fighting and boxing but it’s essentially a very relatable song about actually tapping out of a bad relationship. Much like the song ‘Mad At Myself’, it’s talking about being so in love that you want to make it work. You try so hard to make it to the other round but at some point it becomes so suffocating that you have to swallow your pride and tap out because it’s what is best for you. It’s not until we spoke to the director of the video we are about to film for it that we realised he had interpreted it as tapping out on yourself. Getting to this point in life where you are suffocating yourself and you’re your own worst enemy. You’re trying to live and be happy but it becomes an emotional burden and you think about ending it. It was written about a relationship but there are lyrics in there, which could be seen as you talking about yourself. I think that’s something that a lot of people struggle with. It’s something that always surprises us when people find different meanings."
So how does that slot into the themes of the new album and what it represents for you?
“It’s hard to say without giving away the actual album title but throughout these songs we tried to reconnect with ourselves a bit. Something that we have written in the past but not really tapped into on ‘Headspace’ is that we have seen a lot in our lives and we’ve been through a lot in our lives. We used to really put that into effect when we were writing lyrics. Talking about these things that we have been through and things that other have been through and can relate to. I think that going into this record like that allowed us to open up and write things people need to hear a bit more. There are some feel-good songs still though. We may write some serious songs and we might write some emotional things but every single thing we ever write is not going to always going to be about the damned and the darkness. We have songs on the record that play on love and sex and emotion and we have songs that are about feeling forgotten and feeling betrayed. So saying that the album really delves into the good and bad of life and how we all related through music. It’s a lot about music being the only universal language across the world and the only medicine that heals everybody in the same way. Once I get to actually speak about the title it was all come together.”