Creatively inspired by the days when ‘Emo’ wasn’t a dirty word, and the rose-tinted-specs-spirit of late, great John Hughes’ celluloids such as The Breakfast Club, Brighton-via-Minneapolis pop- rockers As It Is have spent the past two years moulding, melding and meddling with their craft, steadily building a reputation as one of the UK’s brightest new names via independent gigging and fan-funded breakthrough E.P, ‘This Mind Of Mine’.
It’s little surprise that the band have risen rapidly; in addition to their hard work on stage and in the recording studio, As It Is are fronted by Minneapolis born, Berkshire raised frontman Patty Walters, whose dual YouTube channels broadcast the singer’s video blogs and cover versions of a diverse range of tracks (where the super-musical Patty plays every instrument and handles every element of production), and boast nearly 600,000 subscribers and in excess of 2 million plays.
But, even with such a wind of fan devotion beneath their wings, As It Is spent 2014 in somewhat of whirl, with the renowned Fearless Records (Pierce The Veil, Tonight Alive, Motionless In White etc) selecting the quintet as the first non-US band to ever be signed to their globally acclaimed roster. Not ones to crack under pressure, As It Is – completed by vocalist/ guitarist Benjamin Biss, guitarist Andy Westhead, drummer Patrick Foley and bassist Alistair Testo – rose to the challenge, and locked themselves away in Walters’ attic during the summer of 2014 to write, craft and perfect the material for a debut full length. Summoning forth the glory days of Taking Back Sunday, The Starting Line and The Early November, days when heart-on-sleeve lyrical catharsis perfectly synergized with raw pop sensibility.
“We spent nearly everyday of five months writing the album,” recalls Walters, who co-founded As It Is with Biss whilst ‘on the same pretentious music course at Uni’; “Musically, the album is largely inspired by the music grew up with. Most of the first albums we bought are still to this day some of our favourites, which we spent a lot of time picking apart and discerning what made them special.”
In October 2014, following breakthrough performances at London’s Alexandra Palace as part of the annual Summer In The City event and a successful national tour with fellow UK act Roam, As It Is travelled to Florida for 5 weeks to commit their future anthems to disc, with the help of revered producer James Paul Wisner (Paramore, Underoath, Dashboard Confessional).
The resulting songs from these Orlando-via-Patty’s-attic sessions make up ‘Never Happy, Ever After’, a debut album of such accomplished songwriting savvy that it positively belies the band’s average age of 23. You could even say it’s everything you might expect when you mix a brain, an athlete, a basket case… Hold on, wrong press release. But, As It Is’ latest creations did come to shimmer with the same quixotic chemistry as the members of John Hughes’ most beloved Club: “The writing process for the album was predominantly all of us together,” says Walters. “Writing as a band can cause a lot of conflicts and arguments, but for us, we feel it produces our best material. Once all five of us are excited about an idea, we know we’re onto something good.”
Bickering would certainly not be a welcome element in the band’s close creative quarters, particularly when Biss and Walters collaborate on the band’s dual pronged vocal, and indeed lyrical, output. As Biss explains: “When we write a song, the music always comes first, and from the vibe of the music we pick a theme that we think will suit the song. We then both write separately, even if we’re next to each other, and then piece together the best bits of what we have coherently. Sometimes I’ll write a line that Patty loves and he’ll splice it with a few things he has and vice versa until we have a song that grasps what we want to convey. It’s like writing lyrics knowing that it’s already relatable to two people rather than just one.”
“Throughout long, consecutive days, writing for weeks without breaks, we struggled to keep a firm grip on our collective sanity,” adds Walters. “We’d removed ourselves from our relationships for most of the year, which was at times was agonising. Lyrically, the album predominantly reflects the guilt and loss we felt throughout the writing process. Like the lyrics on our previous release (2014 E.P) ‘This Mind of Mine’, the lyrics are still introverted and self-critical, but have grown up in a sense, dealing with remorse and the consequences of one’s decisions.”
With ‘Never Happy, Ever After’ slated for worldwide release on April 21, 2015, As It Is unveiled the first single from the album – the immensely infectious ‘Dial Tones’ – on January 20, 2015, and achieved in excess of 400,000 views of the single’s official music video in just one month. The single also achieved top 10 and top 20 chart positions in the iTunes rock and alternative charts in UK, USA and Australia.
Shortly, the band will be embarking on a relentless 8 month touring schedule that will see them perform across the UK, Europe, North America (on the ‘Glamour Kills’ and world famous ‘Warped’ tours) as well as on the stages of several renowned festivals, such as Hit The Deck, Slam Dunk and South By So What?!
Suffice to say, the old adage ‘From small acorns…’ looks like it will soon become re-appropriated as an elevator pitch for As It Is.