Brighton, UK quartet, As It Is, have released their anticipated new album, ‘The Great Depression’ via Fearless Records / Caroline Australia.
When music is as its best, it is capable of holding a mirror up to the human condition in a way few other art forms can ever match. In the hands of the observant, the erudite, the compassionate and the philosophical, music allows us to better understand who we are and feel powerfully less alone. With their third album ‘The Great Depression’, As it Is are comprehensively proving themselves to be such artists. Stepping out of their comfort zone with aplomb while asking, and answering, complex questions in a way precious few bands ever do.
Across ‘The Great Depression’s dozen tracks, As It Is take the listener on a journey which delves into every aspect of arguably the most prevalent social ill of our time. From public perception, to internal war, the quartet unflinchingly confront the most difficult questions around depression, the value of life over death, and whether the rhetoric around ‘reaching out to talk’ is ostensibly hollow, if no one is prepared to hear those words.
Jen had the chance to chat with Patty.
Hi Patty, This is a bit of a treat for me. I am a huge pop punk fan, and I liked you guys before but this album has seriously intensified that feeling. It is ok I won’t fan girl on you!
Thank you so much!
I have to ask, now you are recovered… how was Warped Tour?
(laughing) Recovered is a strong word! I’m still aching head to toe and readjusting to being home and is always strange from touring with whole community with about 100 bands and an amazing crew to going to not seeing anybody any more. If is always a very strange experience but the thing is I am painfully introverted and I think I have a better time with it. I quite like the solitude and being on my own for a little bit, the silence for me, at Warped Tour you never get silence with anything. I am feeling pretty good for the most part for being back.
What was the Warped street team you had all about?
Yeah, in the past we have worked with our street team and promote what we are up to and for doing pre-orders for a new record, we work with our street team every day to promote the time that we were playing and promoting everything we were up to on Warped tour. We have a very good relationship with our fans and a lot of these Street teamers as we knew already on a first name basis, it was really enjoyable.
Great! I really like the theme of the new album. Mental health now is more important than ever. I have teenagers and also teach teenagers, so I have some understanding of the extent of depression, anxiety and misinformation out in the world in relation to Depression. When you were thinking about writing your new record and what the theme be, did some fan stories to prompt you to think about this topic or was the plan to start a conversation?
I think the biggest way in which fan stories and general fan interaction, and the way we write, there are fans that through very similar experiences that we have been through, equally there are fans that I think have been through a lot worse or better and the thing is writing a record we such a sensitive subject matter you never want to pander and you never want to give advice because we are not therapist or councillors or psychologists we are just people that write about ourselves. I think that is kind of our mantra, if it is true for us then there is going to be hopefully some universal truth in it. Or at least it’s not going to be disingenuine to anyone and their hardships. That would be heartbreaking for me, I would not want to write things about myself that are not true, so that is, the way that we operate.
I take it that the band would have some personal experience either themselves or family members in relation to mental health?
Yes certainly, when I was growing up my sister suffered anxiety for almost her whole life and it is a thing that I have seen firsthand and it has hindered her ability just feel like herself, she had to drop out of school she lost most of her friends and it was scary and sad to watch her kind of lose pieces of herself every day. the rest of the band has had struggles with mental health. The way we choose to cope with these things is to write music. Mental health is exactly the same and pretty deeply related to our physical health and it is not something that we should pretend that everybody doesn’t battle. This is why we are so kind of trying to get the conversation out there and make sure that it is louder than it has been.
I do like that you have said that the album is asking questions rather than giving answers as there is no one answer to this issue and it is so individual. I want to ask my parents when I was younger why I was not allowed to be a Tom Girl, wearing my docs and black clothes, and not allowed to play boy sports like soccer (football) Now it is so different, but we still have a long way to go.
This is not a new topic really, I mean I grew up around people who suffered from mental health issues in the 80’s. It was a real sign of weakness back then. Well perceived to be I mean. The main difference is that when we got home from school we did not have any bullying going on until we went to school the next day. Lucky.
Do you think that social media is one of the main contributors to the increase of mental health problems?
I think so. I think the thing about social media is that I have had my battles with it. Social media is a platform and it is not inherently good or bad, I think there are a lot of amazing role models for the young and even the older impressionable people that are struggling with things that shouldn’t have the stigma that it does that is attached to it by society. There are some amazing people using social media and destroy those stigma’s and to talk about themselves in a vulnerable and transparent way and more so in a human way, being imperfect. I think that is a good thing that people use social media for. When people use it as a way to talk about other human issues that is really important. In all platforms of social media if you are behind a keyboard it is not as vulnerable as if you face-to-face with the person, you don’t have to look them in the eyes and tell them and receive immediate response, with facial expressions and words and maybe that’s why it’s so much easier. There is a certain amount of control in editing and closely monitoring the words that you are saying, you can rewrite and rewrite but I think social media has done so much for the conversation and barrelling the stigma surrounding mental health.
Saying that it can be a great way also to get the message out to people who need to hear songs like The Stigma and know that they are not alone.
Yes, like your story, when I was growing up I wore feminine clothes and I don’t really identify as a masculine person. Or even a feminine person I have just always express my cells in certain ways and that is what ‘Boys don’t Cry’ is about, rejecting the conformity of your gender role and just being allowed to express yourself accordingly, men in particular are told that the emotions are weak and crying is weak but like you said generation me that has altered in the way that people look at the side of that spectrum. It is such an important song for that reason because I’ve never truly fit in in that respect. I have certainly never been quiet about my mental health or at least I haven’t been for the last couple of years and I think it is just more important than ever to talk about that entirety of that spectrum.
How is playing The Stigma live? How do the crowds receive it?
It was so much fun! We were a little bit apprehensive about playing on the Warped tour playing it for the first time because Warped Tour we can only play six songs and you are surrounded by noise at all times and there are bands playing left right and centre and playing a song like The Stigma that takes over a minute to really pick up and drive, it is rather a slow burner. So we added some production elements like electronic drums and light textures by honestly it was one of the standout reaction of our entire set. I mean we played it for the very first time of the first show of Warped Tour and each and every day there were more people singing the words back so it went from really nobody knowing the song to being one of the highlights of our set. That was really humbling and really cool. I will be excited to play at venues rather than Warped Tour.
The music video of The Stigma is insanely good. It fits the song so perfectly. Being such a serious video to enhance the impact of the song, I was wondering if there were any stories from the shooting of it that could make me laugh?
Yeah I meanything that you are seen in that video that is really quite gruesome or disturbing like when Ben’s head was dunked in the water or when he was being pushed and shoved into where all the alpha males were and when there were faked punched all these kind of things were so funny and they are so not funny when you watch the video. We were having so much fun when we were making the video. The drill sergeant was hilarious and he was screaming at us constantly making us do things and we were trying not to laugh. It was amazing, every actor on the set we were just hanging out with and it was actually really fun and there was a great community between ourselves and the actors and crew. It was a really fun experience. We really want to make a statement with this and make it something bold and big and theatrical so that is why we wanted to embrace the dark message in the direction of that video.
Love the Album cover, the arrow that is hitting rock bottom. Cool concept. Tell me though are the start of the letters of As It Is meant to represent an arrow up to state that there is always hope?
Yes, I assume that’s what it means, when we receive that logo back I thought that’s what it meant and I loved it. it means that as much as it is going down there is always some going up and the thing about mental health and life in general is that it is not all good and it is not all bad, it is like a rollercoaster and it it is best to care for ourselves and like the life that we have. Sometimes that involves getting professional help and being open and honest and vulnerable with people that you are comfortable with like your parents, your family or your friends but at the same time life is beautiful and worth living but it is not always as easy as it sounds and that is kind of what the crash means to me.
I read that your intention for the Great Depression Album is to create a positive change in regards to Mental Health. I feel that this album could achieve that and I hope it does. Thanks very much for the chat.
My pleasure, Jen.
Stage I: Denial
1. The Great Depression
2. The Wounded World
3. The Fire, The Dark
Stage II: Anger
4. The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)
5. The Handwritten Letter
6. The Question, The Answer
Stage III: Bargaining
7. The Reaper (ft. Aaron Gillespie)
8. The Two Tongues (Screaming Salvation)
9. The Truth I’ll Never Tell
Stage IV: Acceptance
10. The Haunting
11. The Hurt, The Hope
12. The End.
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