PropertyOfZack Interview : : Cassadee Pope

by Zack Zarrillo - Feb 6, 2012

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Cassadee Pope is currently out on her first solo tour, but had time to catch up with PropertyOfZack for a great interview beforehand. Cassadee and I discussed the sudden jump into her solo career, knowing she needed to move on from Hey Monday, the process of releasing new music, and much much more. Check it out, there’s tons of great information!

So this has all moved pretty quickly. Hey Monday announced a hiatus in December, you announced solo dates, and it’s all kind of only continued on from there. Has it been stressful to have so many things going on at once?
I’m one of those people that gets miserable if I’m not stressed out or busy. Half of the reason why I jumped into everything so quickly was because I was just sick of sitting around. I have these goals that haunt me and I can’t get them out of my brain until I’m working towards them. It’s just one of those that I jumped into because I wasn’t very happy with where I was. I needed to get out there to start playing shows and stuff. Playing shows is my favorite part of what I do. I know it’s not going to be this big tour with thousands of people, but I don’t really care. Our core fans will be there, but I know this transition isn’t going to be easy or happen overnight, but I’m willing to put in the sweat and tears to get there. I couldn’t be more excited about this tour.

Hey Monday and you personally had really been quiet since the end of the Dirty Work tour. Was it difficult to just sort of stop everything for half a year? That’s the longest you’ve done that since you’ve started playing music.
We had always been one of those bands that were on tour all the time. We would have tours lined up six months in advance, so the fact that we didn’t have anything planned besides the South America tour in August was really scary for me. I just knew that something wasn’t right and it just wasn’t happening for us. I love being in a band and I love Hey Monday and I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I met all the people in the world that I work with now because of Hey Monday. I am so grateful for that. I want to work towards bettering myself and my career, and that’s just the reality of it. I want to make a career out of singing, and I didn’t see that happening with Hey Monday. Who knows, maybe that’s something I can go back to one day and it’ll work. Maybe we will be successful and we can make a living off of it and have families and stuff like that, but it just wasn’t going to happen right now. 

Was it clear that you we’re going to go solo when you knew that Hey Monday wasn’t working anymore?
I knew pretty much when things started slowing down. If I wasn’t going to do Hey Monday, I was just going to go solo. The two options were to continue with Hey Monday and make it work or to go solo. I feel like a lot of the reason why we couldn’t breakthrough a ceiling was because we were a pop rock band with a female singer. It’s really hard to do that. There are so many bands and it is really hard for anyone to get noticed. I’m not saying it’ll be easier as a solo artist, but I’m gonna try it. I know how Hey Monday went, and as soon as I knew it wouldn’t work out, I knew I was just going to go solo. It’s not like I could stop music. I had to do something or I would’ve lost my mind. I don’t do well with not working towards something music related. It popped into my head and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

I think a lot of fans were sort of turned off or offended for a minute a few weeks ago when you said that during the time when you said you were writing tons of new songs for Hey Monday, it wasn’t actually for Hey Monday. Do you think this whole situation has been sort of difficult for your top tier of fans?
I’ll be honest, I did not think people were going to be so great about this. I have seen negativity, but I did expect a lot more. I’m not including AbsolutePunk or stuff like that, obviously they’re going to be negative no matter what. I’m just talking about our fans though. They’ve been really great and supportive. I’m sure they’re upset about some things. I read that interview where I said that, and I knew people were going to take what I said and run with it. What I meant was, with Hey Monday I did a lot of co-writes. They’re something that I like to do. I co-wrote “Wish You Were Here” with three different people, I co-wrote “Hangover” with Butch Walker, and others too. I’m not a songwriter signed to a publishing deal writing music for other artists; I’m writing for me. What I meant was that I was just writing songs because I needed to get my feelings out there. At the time, I might have thought it’d be for Hey Monday. I wasn’t secretly writing for solo stuff. I was just writing for myself. I’ve always just written for myself whether it be for Hey Monday or not. I totally understand why some of the core fans might’ve gotten pissed over that, but I definitely didn’t mean to upset anyone. At the same time, I can’t take it back and say I didn’t mean it, because I did. I know people are going to disapprove, but I can’t dwell on those things. 

We know that you have over 20 or so songs written so far. When are we going to start seeing some of these released?
I’m doing this tour and playing a bunch of new and Hey Monday stuff. When I get back I’m going to continue writing with people. The issue is right now is that getting a good sounding demo together is not free. I don’t have a label or a publishing deal or anything, so it’s not going to be something where I can write a song, demo it, and have it out the next day. It’s a process and I have a few songs that I’m demoing right now with producers. I’m not 100% positive that they are the right producers for the song or whatever because these are songs that I wrote with someone else and am bringing them to producers to hopefully get a good demo. I’m not sure if it’ll work out or not though. The plan is to hopefully get some sort of budget or a publishing deal when I get back. I’ve met with a bunch of people, but I’ve been focussed so much on this tour that it’s not on top of my mind. I’m hoping to get a budget together when I get back to go with really experienced producers to get really good sounding demos. Hopefully I’ll be able to get more people on board from there. I’ve been taking my guitar, going in, and singing for people. It’s great, but it’s one of those situations where labels don’t want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on you to put you in the studio. They want it to be pretty much finished so they don’t have to pay for that stuff. I’m doing everything I can to do everything on my own before I bring myself to a label or anything. My main goal is to get really good sounding demos together and to get people on board and then we’ll take it from there. 

This is a largely different process from what you went through with Hey Monday for a ton of reasons. Are you okay with taking this extra time as long as fans know that you’re actively working?
I’m going to do things along away. I want to keep playing shows and to release things like me playing a song or something. I want to keep people in the loop about this journey, because that’s what it is. I know as much as I’m telling you. This is the reality of it, and it’s almost like starting from scratch. I’m just lucky enough to have had experience in touring and to have fans. I don’t know why labels care about this stuff, but I have a lot of Twitter followers and stupid stuff like that too, and that’s what they care about. I’m lucky enough to have that stuff because of Hey Monday. I feel like it’ll be quicker than if I had never done this and just decided I wanted to sing and didn’t have anything going on. All I know is that I’m not going to wait a year to get an album out. I feel very strongly that if things don’t start moving along with industry people that I’m going to just start putting out some music.
POZ: That could certainly be beneficial too.
Cassadee: It does work for a lot of artists and bands. Quite frankly, it scares the shit out of me, but I would do it if things are going too slowly for my liking. I want to get things moving. 

You’re also in control now. It’s not that you didn’t have control in Hey Monday, but there were more cooks in the kitchen. With no label or anything like that, it’s just you. Is that freeing and something that you’ve had to get used to?
It’s been something that I’ve had to get used to for sure. This whole thing was such a crazy trasnition for me. Not only did I go solo, but I got a new manager, moved to LA, don’t have a label, don’t have publishing, and I just put a band together. All these things are happening at once and I’m really trying to focus on each thing. I sleep like a rock at night because I’m so drained at the end of the day, but I love it. I’ve always been the person who thrives on being busy and stressed. It’s been that way since high school at like homecoming. I wasn’t the peppy girl, but I was so excited because I knew I’d be so busy after school every day. As long as I’m busy, I’m happy. Right now, it’s refreshing to not have a label telling me what I should do or telling me what they do and don’t like. It’s a little scary having so much power because it’s on me now, but I’m glad it is like that. I don’t have to get mad at someone else, it’s all on me. 

So you’re heading out on a full band solo tour…
It’ll be an acoustic tour with me, a guitar player, a violinist who can also play guitar, and a drummer. It’s going to be really low-key and acoustic. It’ll be like a story-tellers type deal. I sent the band like twelve to fourteen songs to learn, half of which are solo. I’m anticipating a lot of requests too for Hey Monday songs. In those cases, I’ll play them by myself. We’ll be doing eleven or fifteen songs every night. I’m ready for it. 

Doing this tour is the first real step in this solo endeavor. How are you feeling about it?
It’s definitely the kind of feeling that I’d get when we headlined a tour. If the turnout isn’t good you get really self-conscious and wonder what the other bands are thinking, but we’ve played to twelve people before. I know how awkward that can be, but the fact that I basically put this together myself, if two people show up at a show, at least I have those two people. It is nerve wracking for sure and I know some shows are going to be dreadful, but you have to go through it. I’m really excited about it. It was embarrassing when people saw the venues because people were surprised at me going from big to small venues. It is a huge step down, but it’s a totally different thing. I’m really excited. 

To finish things up, you’re going to finish this tour and then do your best to begin working on the album?
That’s what I’m going to do. I also just want to focus on getting better as a musician as well. With Hey Monday, I was surrounded by really loud stuff, and I’d play acoustic sometimes, but no one could really hear me. I want to focus on becoming a better musician and picking up some different instruments to work on my singing and guitar playing. It’s my time to focus on myself. After all, it is all on me now. 

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