We sent Glasswerk writer Iqra Choudhry along to the As It Is and This Wild Life co-headline tour in Newcastle recently to catch up with Patty Walters and Ben Biss of the Brighton pop punks to get the back story on their signing to Fearless Records and their whirlwind rise to fame in the last 12 months…
I’ve heard As It Is described as ‘a band that’s as pop-punk as they come’ – do you guys think that’s an accurate description of your sound?
Patty: Yeah, I’d say that’s us.
Would you guys like to tell the story of how you formed the band?
Patty: Sure – it’s really long and not very interesting.
Ben: It’s really underwhelming.
Patty: So, Ben and I met on the same course at University, we were doing this pretentious degree in Digital Music and Sound Art.
That sounds very pretentious.
Patty: It was incredibly pretentious.
Ben: We’ve said it in interviews before but I kinda wish we’d made up something really cool instead.
Patty: Like a degree in rock climbing?
Ben: Yeah! (laughs)
Patty: So I posted an add on a site called JoinMyBand.co.uk saying I wanted to start a pop-punk band, and that’s how we found Andy.
Ben: It’s a site for people who wanna be in bands and have no friends.
Patty: It’s how we found Foley as well. So, Ben and I started writing songs and then we found Foley on the same site and in time we found Ali.
Ben: So, not the most interesting way of forming a band, but it worked.
You guys are the first band in the UK to sign to Fearless Records. How does that feel?
Patty: (makes a disbelieving noise somewhere between a laugh and a squeak)
Ben: It still doesn’t feel real. I still don’t think it’s sunk in. I think the biggest moment for me, realising, was when we were in the offices and they were putting the album artwork up on the wall. That was the moment it really sunk in, to the degree that it has now, which is still really pretty surreal.
Patty: Also when we played those shows with The Summer Set. I love their record, I listened to it for at least a year, and they welcomed us to the Fearless family.
Ben: Yeah, it was that welcome to the Fearless family that made it all sink in.
Your debut record is now out – it’s called ‘Never Happy, Ever After’ and I absolutely love it. It’s an awesome record, and that on repeat is the only thing getting me through revision right now.
Patty: Thank you!
It’s chock-full of summer tunes – everyone I know who’s listened to it is raving about it too. What’s your favourite song off that record?
Patty: For me, I’m really fond of ‘You, The Room & The Devil On Your Shoulder’. It’s the last track and choosing what was aesthetically best for that song that best represented how we operate as a band was hard. We talked about so many directions it could go in, and there were splits between what people thought was best. It was probably the hardest song to choose what was best.
Ben: What ended up being best was the original way that it was written. It went through so many things, but the first idea was the one.
Patty: And Andy was the biggest advocate of that. I was in this mentality of being in too deep, creatively, and you’re like ‘well, there’s gotta be something that works better!’ And it was the first way.
Ben: It was one of those songs where I think you got to the point where you thought of so many things, but where we thought that its purest form was the best way; as stripped-back as it could be.
Ben: My favourite is called Silence (Pretending’s So Comfortable); it’s the second to last one and it’s suitably dark for my tastes.
Patty: I think everyone else’s favourite is Speak Soft.
You’re currently on a co-headline tour with This Wild Life, with Boston Manor and Seaway supporting. How has it been?
Patty: Amazing. I’d say my favourite show of the tour so far has been last night in Liverpool. (Let it be noted that Newcastle outdid Liverpool over the course of the night and Patty has since changed his mind.)
Going off the amount of people lined up around the corner, I’d say tonight’s going to be pretty crazy.
Ben: Last time we played Newcastle, it was pretty crazy.
Patty: Way back when, in like September. It was this same venue, too. But yeah, this tour – all the other bands are lovely. I love their music; but it’s really cool when you all get on as friends.
I ask this because I’m in the middle of a house prank that’s escalating – do you have any tour pranks?
Ben: Not on this tour, yet! But for April Fool’s Day, we were on tour with Set It Off and Roam, and Patty did the best prank on the guys from Set It Off. They play this song called ‘Miss Mysterious’, and Patty came out as Miss Mysterious.
Patty: Basically, we thought we’d had this amazing prank. And then Set It Off pranked us so much harder than we’d prepared for, so we had to really up our game. They have this ballad, Miss Mysterious, and Chrissy from Against The Current kindly let me borrow some of her clothes and make-up, and I went on stage in a bralet, a skirt, some sunglasses and lipstick and stuff, and I just caressed Cody as he sang. My favourite thing about that was the fact that he couldn’t carry on singing with a straight face.
Ben: Yeah, we trumped them in the end. Because what they did to us was they sat me down, moved my mic stand down and then put my hair in pigtails whilst I was singing. And they sat down as a judges’ panel, and put up signs.
You guys are playing Slam Dunk Festival at the end of this tour, that’s next weekend. The line-up is just crazy; who are you guys looking forward to seeing?
Patty: I think, unsurprisingly, we’re all looking forward to seeing Taking Back Sunday. We model our band after their dynamic.
Ben: Don’t let people know we rip other bands off!
Patty: Yeah, so they’re a massive influence. And I’m really looking forward to seeing Cartel.
Ben: It’s their last UK show, as well.
Patty: I’m looking forward to seeing H2O, I haven’t seen them in a few years. Pretty much every band on our stage, as well.
Ben: It’s good that we’re playing for a few days, so we can catch the bands we wanna see.
You guys are on quite early, too.
Patty: Yeah, first on! We’re opening the stage. Also: PVRIS.
Ben: I’m really looking forward to seeing Beartooth. I’ve heard so much about how good they are live.
You guys are playing Vans Warped Tour this summer as well.
Patty: (grinning) Yeeeeeeeeaaaaahhhhhh.
How excited are you?
Patty: We are really excited. We are SO excited. I was late for sound-check because me and Kevin from This Wild Life were having a massive talk about Warped Tour. We just had our first taste of a US tour, and I think we’re excited to do it again this summer with, like 80 bands. It’s gonna be so much fun.
Ben: It’s gonna be such a good atmosphere. There are so many friends on that tour, that are playing.
Patty: And the last time we toured the US, the album wasn’t out. So I’m really excited about going back when people know the songs, and with a record to bring to new people.
The record’s come out just before this tour; do you feel like the later dates on the tour have more people familiar with the songs? Or do people know it quite well because you streamed it for a while before the release?
Ben: Well, I think that’s the thing – even at the release show, the album had only been out for a few hours – we’d been streaming it for a few days, but everyone at the release show knew the whole record.
Patty: The record starts on an a capella with ‘Speak Soft’ and from that moment, we were blown away by that show – people were already singing it back and we didn’t expect that at all.
Ben: And it’s only been getting crazier. The crowd have been so loud on this tour, consistently through the set. All the new songs – I couldn’t really be happier with the response.
You guys have a pretty busy summer ahead of you, because you’re also playing Hevy Fest in August. Who are you looking forward to seeing?
Ben: Literally everyone playing the main stage after us, so Thrice, The Get Up Kids – it’s gonna be awesome. We won’t be there the day before, so I’ll miss Coheed and Cambria.
Patty: Are Dillinger playing the day before?
Ben: I don’t know.
Patty: If they’re playing the same day as us, I’m stoked to see them.
If you could pick a dream tour line-up, regardless of genre, money no object, who would you want to play with?
Ben: I wonder how different our dream line-ups would be. Shall we do different ones?
Ben: I assume we’re opening.
Patty: Yeah, we’ll open.
Ben: We’ll be modest.
Patty: I’d love Lights, Owl City and The Postal Service to all be there. That’d be cool. Followed by Cradle of Filth, because why the fuck not? I can do whatever I want; it’s my day. And maybe like The Starting Line, New Found Glory, Blink-182?
Ben: That’s not a tour, it’s an all-day festival. I’m gonna go with a modest gig, with a four-band set-up. Us opening, followed by Fall Out Boy, because I’d love to play with them, and then…I’d really love to play with twenty-one pilots. I’ll put them above Fall Out Boy, why not? And then, yeah. Probably The Early November. We played Hit The Deck with them, but I’d love to play a proper show. And part of my conditions would be that they’d have to come sing guest vocals on ‘Bitter Broken Me’.
Patty: I’ll go back and change mine so it’s a bit more reasonable. Lights, Owl City, The Postal Service, Cradle of Filth.
Ben: I like how you’ve cut it down to the really realistic line-up.
Patty: That would make me so happy. It would be so weird.
What’s the worst show you’ve ever played?
Patty: (laughs) Are we gonna say Cross End?
Ben: It wasn’t even that it was a bad show, it was just so poorly attended. We literally played to the bar staff.
Patty: There was no-one there.
Ben: We played to the bar staff, and all the other bands pulled out.
Patty: There was an acoustic guy, who stayed to watch, but we played to the guys who worked there, and the guy who opened. There was nobody in that venue who didn’t have to be there. So that was pretty demoralising. But the WORST show we’ve ever played?
Ben: For me, the Dessau show wasn’t ideal. I messed that up pretty badly. Basically, the promoter in Germany thought it would be a great idea to give us three bottles of vodka. I ended up maybe a little drunker than I should have been. And there was almost nobody there; like fifteen people. We were opening the set with ‘Horoscopes’ at that point. And I had my hair in a topknot, I don’t know why. Our photographer was attaching a GoPro to my mic, and I didn’t think we were ready, but Foley started to play and I just didn’t play. Patty started a Capella and started laughing, and we couldn’t keep it up, and I was just on stage, blaming Foley. So it was pretty horrific, but I think we managed to pull it back after that – we apologised and started afresh.
What was the first show you guys got paid for, as a band?
Ben: This is actually a really disheartening story, because we actually – the first ever money we made as a band at that show.
Patty: At The Black Heart.
Ben: In London, with Home Advantage, RIP. Patty kept that money in a box, as a sentimental thing. What was it, £50?
Ben: So, yeah, we kept that. And then it got stolen. We kept it for about two years, and then it got stolen.
On that slightly demoralising note, what was the first gig you ever went to?
Ben: The first show I ever went to was Green Day and New Found Glory, at Hammersmith Apollo in…2004, I wanna say?
Patty: So, my dad took me to a bunch of shows, before I chose the gigs, but the first one of my choice was Foo Fighters at Wembley. That was like, when One By One had just come out.
Ben: We went to quite big first gigs, so when we get kids coming up to us at our shows saying ‘This is my first show, it’s to see you guys’ – that’s surreal. I’m like “My first gig was Green Day. We’re not Green Day.”
You guys have been around for a while, but you’re part of a new wave of British pop-punk, and this growing scene. Who are you listening to at the moment?
Ben: Neck Deep are amazing. From the UK, we listen to Roam quite a lot, just because they’re really good friends. Boston Manor, who’ve we’ve brought out. And I’m really big on Creeper at the moment. Slightly different vibes, but they’re doing good things for the UK alt-scene.
And do you have any advice for new bands starting out?
Patty: Don’t expect to be good. For a while. Honestly, you’re going to be awful. Even if you think you’re good, you’re probably still awful.
Ben: I think the way that we did it – we never went searching for lots of things. We put ourselves out there as much as we could and if we got things, that’d be great. But we didn’t expect anything, and that’s the thing. If you have low expectations and you’re just making music, and playing shows for the fun of it, then hopefully good things’ll come.
Patty: If you have lots of unreal expectations about your first shows, you’re not gonna have fun. They’re not good shows. They’re some of the most fun shows you’ll play, purely for the friends you’ll make.
Ben: You also see bands that prioritise the wrong things. You’ll see bands that’ll open a pub with like £6,000 worth of gear or like, production. And that’s not the important thing to prioritise when you’re starting out. Hone your craft, and then work up. We still don’t use the best gear, we’ve only just started using better gear, and we spent probably two years borrowing stuff, and not spending any money on production. We just put our effort into songwriting.
– Iqra Choudhry