Having managed to soar out from the underground and bagging a record deal with Fearless Records, covers on magazines, collecting a huge fanbase and dropping their debut album ‘Never Happy, Ever After’, the rise of Brighton’s As It Is over the past few months has been nothing short of impressive. It seems like they’re quickly becoming a staple name in the modern pop-punk scene.
Whilst they were at Hit The Deck in Nottingham, we spoke with guitarist/vocalist Ben Biss and drummer Patrick Foley to see how they’re handling all of the recent success, how it feels to finally have a full-length album under their belts, and what they’ve got planned for the rest of 2015.
DP!: How does it feel to be sitting at number 28 currently in UK album midweek chart?
B: We’d be ridiculously happy if it wasn’t. We’re really happy how well it’s gone.
DP!: Did you anticipate that?
B: No, it’s crazy. The amount of people that seem to own the album exceeded any expectations we had.
DP!: The album has also received an incredible critical response. Is this a reaction that you expected after all the hard work you put in?
F: I guess “expected” would be the wrong word. I guess, extremely grateful and thankful that all of our hard work is being appreciated, I guess. I mean, we put three months of solid work into that album, and we were all so proud of it ourselves. To then have it released and for everyone else to hear it the first time and share that sort of enthusiasm we have with those songs that we’d written? Yeah, it’s an amazing feeling, but I don’t think we expected it at all.
B: I mean, if we had bad reviews, it would have been a little disheartening. It’s been the past 9 months, working on the songs until the release, but we’re just so happy that people like it. I can still put it on and enjoy it, which is always a good sign.
What was it like recording your debut in Florida?
B: Stressful at times. We were supposed to do 10 songs in 6 weeks, but we ended up doing 11 in 5, so we were a bit on a tight time schedule.
F: And that decision was actually made just before we were out there. So, I mean, obviously a schedule had been drawn up and that had to sort of be condensed and hurried along. But, I mean the hours that we put in on some days were ridiculous.
B: I felt sorry for you. You were done in the first few days and sat around for the last 5 weeks or so.
F: It was good for the first couple of weeks to be done and then sort of hear the album grow. Then the cabin fever sets in and you just sort of want to get away from it all, but you can’t at the same time, because you obviously want to continue to put in and stuff like that. But, being given the opportunity to go to the states, to record with such a great producer, first of all, was amazing within itself. Then, obviously, the process in which we used to track and build the album, it was all perfect really.
DP!: How did the process really differ from recording your self-released EPs?
F: I mean, we’ve always been stuck for time, so it was the same when we booked studio time to record ‘This Mind Of Mine’. The manager of the producer who booked us in didn’t advise us the right amount of time, for the amount of songs that we were doing, so when we got there, the producer, Jason, was just like “Oh, you want to do four songs in 5 days. I would have told you to have 6 or 7 days”. We were like, “Okay, well this is how many songs we’re doing, so let’s crack on”.
B: Literally in the past to the last seconds, Patty was there doing percussion and stuff with a shaker.
F: The pressure was on, but, I mean, I guess the big difference would be just within ourselves I think, and going in to record the album being so confident about what we were playing. Like, for me personally, I was very comfortable with what I had personally written. Whereas before, with the EPs, we were still pretty young and going in with rough sort of ideas and stuff that maybe didn’t sound perfect.
B: I think it’s like being in the studio is one of those times where your musical capability is really on show. You can’t hide anything. If you’re shit, it shows, so I always remember my favourite quote from Mark Hoppus being “Going into the studio is when you realise how shit of a singer you are”. I think we spent so long writing together just the five of us in a room that we became so comfortable trying things with each other that when we came to the studio, we were pretty comfortable with it.
DP!: Why did you choose to rerecord ‘Can’t Save Myself’ for the album?
B: I think we felt like a year on or whatever that we still really loved that song, and we thought it’s still a really strong song. We thought it would be a case with the album that kids would fit in it and that would be the first thing that they heard from it. I think we just wanted to give ‘Can’t Save Myself’ the justice that it deserved.
F: We didn’t want to leave it behind really, because it’s done so much for us, that song alone.
DP!: Do you prefer the new version?
F: Yeah. I’ve heard a lot of feedback on Ben’s vocals.
B: Ah man, listening back to the old one makes me cringe. I think, personally, it gave me the opportunity to tighten up things within the song that would really sort of eat away at me, because I didn’t necessarily have the time to do when recording the EP. So, when it came around to track it for the album, that then allowed me to tighten up those little things that I wasn’t happy with originally.
F: From my own personal perspective, I prefer it, but I think it seems to be very split.
B: There’s loads of songs where I seem to prefer the original version. When we were deciding to do it, we were going through albums that kind of had re-recorded versions of previous songs on. The only musical thing that has really changed is that it’s a couple of BPM faster but, yeah, we just felt it fit on the album.
DP!: How does it feel being the first UK band to sign to Fearless Records?
B: That was always a surreal thing.
F: I don’t think that feeling of it being surreal has worn off still.
B: I mean, we were in the office at the end of March, and that was a good 6 months from signing and I got the biggest hit of it. Then, putting up our album on the wall next to the Fearless signs in front of the offices; that was the moment when it was like, this is real. We’re a part of this label.
DP!: Do you think this has opened things up for more UK bands to be signed by Fearless and similar labels?
B: I mean yeah, I think the UK scene is really strong at the moment. It’s being noticed worldwide as well as being just something that the UK has. There wasn’t a particularly big scene for a while, and then Neck Deep came along, but it’s good that we can kind of be a part of the resurgence of UK pop-punk.
DP!: Who are you most excited to see today at Hit The Deck?
F: While She Sleeps, again. I think I’ll still be around then. They’re unbelievable. So, While She Sleeps, The Swellers, they’re always good to see considering it’s the last chance to catch them.
B: I think I’ll see Frank Iero again. Obviously stick around and see Decade straight after our set as well.
Interview by Kieran Harris