BIG IN 2016
As 2016 opens its doors, we’ll make sure you’re properly briefed on the acts who will dominate the next twelve months. They may mark themselves as outsiders, but if any band looks set for the top, it’s Against The Current.
Words: Ali Shutler.
Against The Current had a very good 2015. Their self released,second EP ‘Gravity’ was so well received they went on a massive world tour. It might have been an “amazing” experience but it was also “mind blowing” for the band, “to be able to go on a world tour without even having a full length record out.” In 2016, that changes.
“We’re really lucky to have got as far as we have without having an album,” explains vocalist Chrissy Costanza. “I think it’s pretty unique for any band or artist to be in our situation so it’ll be nice to show off something we sat down and worked really hard on. We can’t wait for it to be finally released and have that out there. I want us to continue to grow the band, expand it and hopefully reach more and more people. Just crush the year, y’know?”
Formed on the pre-existing partnership of guitarist Dan Gow and drummer Will Ferri, Chrissy – introduced by mutual friends – brought a balance to the band after years of turbulence. Christened Against The Current after the last line of The Great Gatsby, the band have lived up to their name. Whether it’s those world tours, their disregard for genre lines or being a YouTube band while not actually being a YouTube band, Against The Current aren’t the norm.
And they’re cool with that. There’s a reason the first single from that debut album is called ‘Outsiders’. The track “sets the tone and the pace” for the record and champions the idea of staying true and not fitting in. It speaks on behalf of both fans and band alike. Asking Chrissy whether she’d rather the album shift a million copies or mean something special to a couple of hundred kids, she pauses for just a moment before replying, “I mean, my answer would be both.”
At home for the first time in months, Chrissy is enjoying “having a couple of minutes free,” yet somehow she’s “still been running about everywhere.” The demands of both real life and the band playing havoc. “I haven’t been vegging out nearly as much as I thought I was going to be. I’ve been to concerts, had to sign a bunch of stuff and we’re going to be doing some more writing, finishing up the album, stuff like that. We’re keeping busy.”
Typically it’s with a debut album that a band becomes properly tangible. Wolf Alice, Marmozets, Moose Blood, Milk Teeth, the list goes on and soon, you’ll be able to add Against The Current to it. ”Everything we’ve done has obviously mattered but it feels like we haven’t even taken the first step. When our fans say they’re so proud of how far we’ve come, I’m like ‘thank you, but we’ve just been warming up’. When this album drops, that’s the start.”
The writing for the record was “definitely different”, with the band taking it a lot more seriously. “We always take everything we do seriously, but for ‘Gravity’ we only had nine days for the entire thing; to go in, to write, to record, everything,” explains Chrissy. “We had half of ‘Gravity’ written and that was it. Some of those songs hadn’t even been started yet; those ideas weren’t on the table. There was no room for error. There was no room to say well, this song doesn’t really sound like us.”
Signing to Fueled By Ramen should come with a heap of pressure, but this band don’t do as they should. “I don’t like to think of it as pressure, I like to think of it as an amazing opportunity.” That platform has also given them access to their pick of songwriters. “We’ve had more resources available than we’ve ever had before. We’re always dreaming big so it’s been amazing for the album to have been able to work with these writers that we wouldn’t have been able to even get in touch with beforehand. It’s really helped us develop as songwriters.”
Sure, Against The Current have used co-writers – cue those curmudgeonly ’true punx’ alarm bells – but that’s only because they want to make sure the message at the heart of their debut is delivered in the best way possible. “The thing I tell people is just to stay genuine, be true to you because ultimately that is the most important thing. That’s what we’re really trying to get across when we were doing the album. This is just us. We’re not writing it because we need this kind of song, we’re writing it because that’s what we’ve experienced and it’s what we do. It’s just us.”
“It was weird at first when we did a couple of co-writes for ‘Gravity’ but when you find those right people, they can completely change how you write a song. They can help you in ways you never thought you could ever be helped. I think next time, with the next album there might not be as many co-writes. We did so many sessions for this album because we were trying to explore every avenue, every style and everything we possibly could so we could make the album the best it could be.” It’s less song writing, more learning how to channel their voice.
Even now, three and a half years on from ‘Thinking’, Against The Current still refuse to fit into a box. It’s a flexibility that they’re always going to maintain. “We’re still going to be experimenting with our sound, always changing things and writing different types of songs. Not really defining ourselves from the beginning has left us with a fanbase that was really open to hearing anything we had to offer. I’ve never heard a fan say ‘oh, this song doesn’t sound like ATC’ or ‘this is really different’ because there isn’t really one song that is ATC. We just change it up all the time. We make the music we love and we’re constantly changing as songwriters.” Against The Current’s defiant attitude and the welcoming embrace it’s garnered across the world should sit at odds, but instead it’s been channelled into a full-length release.
“It gave us a lot of room with the album to really do whatever we wanted because we knew there wasn’t this expectation there to be something specific, and that’s how we want to keep it. We don’t want people to expect a certain album. We want to keep being who we are, which isn’t one specific sound.” Instead Against The Current is “just who we are. It’s our identities and who we’ve always been. We’ve always just done what we wanted to do and so far, it’s worked out in our favour. We don’t really feel the pressure to appease anyone.” A very polite way of saying the band really don’t care what anyone thinks.