Last week saw R&B/metal crossover merchants Issues play their first London show at the Islington Academy, as part of a co-headline jaunt around they UK with Crown The Empire. Gavin Lloyd caught up with the band’s two front men Tyler Carter (he’s the one that sings the nice bits) and Michael Bohn (he’s the shouty one) to discuss their unique sound, their taste in music, their fans and twerking, obviously.
Your sound is pretty unique, what led to you wanting to cross metal with R&B and pop?
Tyler: Specifically the freedom that we didn’t have before. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance because we were limited and people were holding onto our creativity. So we started this band and the main rule was that we were going to control our own destiny. We’d have full control over our own image, our own sound and nobody, no label was going to tell us otherwise.
Have Rise Records been supportive of letting you guys have such a free reign on what you want to do?
Michael: They give us a lot of freedom.
Tyler: I think they knew that we had a lot to offer. Me and Michael gave them a good run in Woe, Is Me so they had complete faith. When we said we’re going to do this shit ourselves, let us control our shit, they trusted us.
Is it safe to assume that you guys have a pretty varied taste in music?
Michael: We like all kinds of music, everyone’s really different. Tyler listens to a lot of pop music, but at the same time he still listens to metal. I love pop as well, I love nu metal, we listen to everything and incorporate it into our music. I like The Script a lot, they’re dope and Twenty One Pilots.
Tyler: Katy Perry‘s new music is awesome and I’m all about Conor Maynard.
A lot of metal fans can be quite inclusive and not as open to pop as you guys are, have you encountered that?
Tyler: You can only deny talent for so long. Everybody’s afraid of change and nobody wants to jump on board when something new comes along because they’re just contempt with what they are and they’re afraid of something new, but I mean its inevitable. Generations change and we’re just thinking outside the box. Like I said: you can only be afraid of it for so long.
As you mentioned generations change and on the other hand I think a lot of kids are more welcoming of new things these days.
Michael: In the UK we’ve noticed people are more receptive to the pop, R&B and hip hop aspects. EDM [dubstep] is huge in Europe – it’s awesome. So the fact that we have that in our music definitely helps reaching more people over here because they’re really open to that.
Tyler: I think kids just get bored of the same old, same old, so to bring something new is exciting.
You previously mentioned you liked nu metal and elements of that can be heard in your music also.
Michael: We grew up on nu metal.
Tyler: I think everyone who’s playing music right now grew up on nu metal, and because we bring so much fresh energy as well as what’s big in the Top 40 scene and what’s hot in the metalcore scene is we’re able to appeal to all our fans and the younger generation, but because we’re bringing nu metal back and giving it a twist we’re able to reach the older fans too and so I think we reach a bigger demographic.
Nu metal is also something that has received its fair share of criticism over the years, was that a cause for concern for you guys?
Tyler: It’s just like people who don’t like screaming and they say it isn’t real music. Everybody’s got their own shit that they’re into, and you’ve got to take it for what it’s worth. We don’t tend to let stuff like that get to us too much.
When a lot of metal bands try to experiment with other genres it sometimes feels forced, what do you do to avoid this?
Tyler: With other bands it can be really copy and paste, and it’s just cut-out. We try to do the best with meshing things together, especially with how me and Michael sing and scream, and the ratio and the transitions.
Is there any set formula when it comes to writing songs?
Michael: It mostly starts out with Ty and AJ who start riffing out stuff and Josh will put a beat to it. It’s kind of been a bit different this time around because we have a new drummer, he’s great, he’s very talented and he can add his input to it as well. Ty will add some crazy beat to make that Issues sound.
Tyler: Some of our songs start with an actual groove on the drums and we write riffs to it, and that’s mostly how our heavy stuff comes along, because it comes off the instrumentation. Variety comes from me writing a pop song and us turning it into a metal song. Sometimes there’s more singing, sometimes there’s more screaming and we just be as diverse as possible
Finally are Issues gong to be the first metal band to embrace twerking? Can we expect a twerk pit any time soon?
Tyler: We started an Issues twerk team, because of the phenomenon of twerking. It’s funny, it’s a joke obviously. People don’t take twerking too seriously. Miley’s just having a good time and she’s tapping into the twerking market and the ratchet market. At the end of the day everybody knows it’s just a joke and so we decided as a metal band that’s not afraid to be involved with what’s popular in the top 40, we thought it would be funny. But no I don’t think there will ever be a twerk pit. I don’t think our fans know how to twerk.
Issues still have a couple more dates to go on their UK tour, so go and have a look on Facebook if you’re interested. Hooligans is out now.