Made to last
Ignore the haters, Issues aren’t selling out – they just want to grow, says vocalist Tyler Carter.
Words: Heather McDaid.
Issues were the band on everyone’s lips following their self-titled debut, and rightly so. But buzz doesn’t last without reason, and vocalist Tyler Carter is all too aware of that. Aptly-titled follow-up ‘Headspace’ sees them pop back up from under the radar after working out how they want to take on the world for round two.
“There’s always a lot of pressure, especially when the first record does well,” begins Tyler. “You think you’re on top of the world, but just as quickly as you rise, you can certainly fall. People don’t really understand that, so they just shit out another record and expect ‘oh, we are popular, so it’s good’. But you really have to up your expectations, you have to up your standards, you really have to expect people to have high hopes. That’s why they call it the sophomore slump.
“We definitely have had a lot of pressure on our shoulders as far as delivering something better and something bigger and just new. I think that because we had so much time to revise and to really work on the record for a year, we were able to meet those expectations for ourselves and for the fans. It took a lot of revision, like we’d realise a song wasn’t good enough so we’d cut it – that’s something that’s really important when making a comeback record, making a record that is going to top your debut and really take it to the next level.”
Time is the recurring factor, a luxury of having more to really whittle every element of Issues down to its finest potential. “We wrote the last record in like a month and recorded it in three weeks,” he explains. “This time we spent a few months writing starting with jotted ideas. When we were touring, we were writing in the back of our bus. We approached it differently by everyone working harder and practicing more.
“We hit the music in the same place we did our last album because we felt like, honestly, this works: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I think at the top line, collaboratively it came out a lot better than our last record, just down to everyone spending really quality time with themselves and really evolving and I think that’s what set us on the next bar.”
In ‘Headspace’ the dynamics have changed – they keep pushing themselves for greater heights as they themselves grow and mature, and they’re unapologetic about it. “Our influences are completely different from what we were influenced by a couple of years ago,” Tyler continues. “People might call us sell outs, some might say we are just trying to appeal to a commercial audience – that’s not true. Obviously, we want to grow, and we would like to do bigger tours and make more money and support ourselves in the future because, it takes more money to be able to do this for a living, and to make music for people, but we have to be able to survive as well.
“It’s more than just the commercial aspect, it’s about growth. We evolve in our talents and take it more seriously. We know people are going to call us sell outs just because we have the softest, poppiest, most singy-songy track of our whole career on this album. But we also have our heaviest, darkest, most anti-singing song of our career on the album too. So, people who get their panties in a bunch maybe haven’t listened to the whole record.”
When it comes to what peppers the songs, from pop to their ‘heaviest yet’, it’s another case of going all in. No half-arsing on any front. “We just went into the studio and we just started with these more open-ended universal lyrics,” says Tyler. “At one point or another, we were like ‘Look, if we are going to tell it, then we have got to tell it all’. We take inspiration from that to go full-on with it and really make it a point to tell the story and paint the picture and do it whole hearted.”
Take ‘Yung and Dum’ for example: its roots seem to have been in an entirely different creative ballpark to begin with and, bit by bit, brought over into their world, and the plot they weave is one that everyone can pick from. “It’s kind of like a country song,” he notes. “We wrote it like a country song and kind of transformed it into an Issues song. The lyrics are feel good, windows down, big city, big country. Being young and staying forever young, you know the Bob Marley kind of forever, holding on to your youth and having fun before you get to the point where you want to settle down and start having families. It seems like a lot of us, when we are young, we always are like ‘I can’t wait to be 21 and buy alcohol and drive and go to rated R movies’ and just grow up and have fun; when we get older, we all can relate and all we want to do is wish we could be young for a day again, wish we could just go back in time and relive it and know what we know now back then. That’s one of our favourites.”
‘Headspace’ is Issues taking the hype head on, levelling up in the process. So what does the album say about this step in their journey? “I think it really just tells the story of our band,” he says. “You know, we weren’t just an overnight success. A lot of people might see that we came out of nowhere – we really do have a cult that we have created over the years. The new record will top the last record, which topped the EP, which topped the demos.
“I think that you can look at where we come from and people can see the growth. People can really say ‘I’ve been listening to them since they were this and since they sounded like this’, and they can see how far we have come and how far we plan to go. It says that these guys are determined to be something revolutionary or legendary.
“That’s not the main goal – we just want to create music that’s innovative and that’s a record for each one of us. That’s the creativity behind it, making a bunch of things that shouldn’t make sense, make sense. I just hope people see that that’s the statement there and there’s no limitations.”