Pop-punk group As It Is are a five-piece that hail from Brighton, UK with big plans for 2017. Despite their youth, the band have been establishing themselves as one of the top young acts which was helped by their stand-out performance on the 2015 Vans Warped Tour and touring slots along the likes of Mayday Parade, Real Friends, and This Wild Life. Their debut record Never Happy, Ever After was released last year and will be soon followed-up with the sophomore album, via Fearless Records, Okay (pre-order your copy right here). We recently spoke with guitarist and vocalist Ben Langford-Biss more in depth about the new record and why it's sometimes okay to not be okay.
Your sophomore album titled Okay was just announced in September and is due out in January. What can we expect this time around in comparison to your debut Never Happy, Ever After? Langford-Biss:Okay is by far our most honest record lyrically. We delved into aspects of our lives that we hadn't dared to touch before. It tells stories of family issues, mental health issues and inevitability. It definitely took a certain level of bravery for us to open up to such a degree, even with each other. Musically I feel like we pushed ourselves way more than on Never Happy. We didn't let ourselves say something didn't 'sound like As It Is' in the writing process. As a result it's our most creative and diverse record that I hope people will really connect with. If they don't I know we're really happy with it and proud of it.
Judging by the cover art for Okay and the music video for "Pretty Little Distance", there seems to be a 1950s theme going on here. Can you tell us a little more about this underlying theme? Langford-Biss: It'll become a lot clearer as the cycle continues but in essence the theme stems from the fact our songs stereotypically are superficially happy but with dark lyrics. In the fifties there was all this superficial happiness and escape in culture and rock and roll, but there was the fear of the Cold War going on behind it all. We drew parallels to the present day and the way we wrote songs. All will become clear!
You’ve described Okay as your most personal and honest record to date. Was this record inspired by any personal hardships or hard times that the band was going through? Langford-Biss: Following Never Happy we toured the world pretty much constantly. What we didn't want to do was to write a second record about the hardships of being on the road. I don't think that's cool, to get the chance to do all this amazing touring and then complain about it on your next record. Before we started writing we took a couple of months to adjust to reality and live our normal lives and as a result. The record focuses way more on our personal lives. Our family relations, how we deal with depression and the battles that happen in our heads. There's a song we wrote after I saw my Grandad in hospital the day before we flew out to record and I thought it might've been the last time I'd see him. We don't hold back on honesty with this record.
Part of the message behind this record, and I’m guessing why it’s called Okay, is that it’s "okay" to not be "okay". Can you tell us a little more about the significance behind this? Langford-Biss: I won't speak for anyone else but I definitely battle with anxiety and/or depression and I know Patty had his experiences that inspired a lot of the record. It doesn't make anyone any less of a person, some of the strongest people I know have the biggest and darkest lows. Mental health is still something that needs to be talked about. When I was at school no one taught you about mental health, I didn't even know what depression or anxiety was. If we can help even one person realise it's something that should be talked openly about then we've done something good.
Check out the song "Pretty Little Distance"
What was the writing and recording process like for Okay? Was this finished fairly quickly or was it quite a long process? Langford-Biss: We spent about four months living together in the week all writing together. We aren't the kind of band that writes a song in a day, we are always looking to better what is there and as a result sometimes 'finishing' a song can be a lengthy process. This was the first time we went into the studio without a completely finished record, we went in with about eight finished songs and 20 other ideas. We wrote a few songs in the studio with our producer that we'd never done before. Our producer Mike Green definitely helped shape a lot of the songs and saw potential in things we hadn't. We can be bad at making decisions so working with him was an amazing balance.
Now that you’re starting to perform the tracks off Okay live, are you finding that they are getting a perhaps more personal reaction from the audience as a result of the album’s tone and subject matter? Langford-Biss: I definitely think that'll be something we see when we come to do headline tours. On these support tours with bands like Sum 41 it's important to perform the song like it's the first time you've ever played it. These people have never heard us and they need to feel the passion whether they know the song or not.
It’s now a couple of months until the official release of Okay. What do you have in store for the next little while to promote and spread the word about it? Langford-Biss: We will be releasing another song off the record. I think that one will surprise a lot of people. We want to delve more into the meaning behind Happy Co. so I'm sure there will be a lot to keep people excited for the record!