PropertyOfZack is thrilled to finally be posting our new interview with Jonathan Cook for Forever The Sickest Kids. Jonathan and I discussed the band’s new self-titled album, the possibility of releasing the remaining Weekend EPs under a different genre of music, and how Kent announced to the band he was leaving only one day before the made it public to the world. Read up and enjoy, it’s a great read!
We are officially one week away from the release of the band’s new self-titled album. How are your nerves doing right about now?
Well, I hold all of my nerves in my left and right shoulder blades, and they’re very tight right now. I’m super excited to have a lot going on. To put out a full-length album it takes a lot, so we have a ton going on this week, but it’s so exciting. It’s been like a year and half process in the making and it’s finally a week away. It’s like a wedding.
The original plan was of course for Forever The Sickest Kids to finish of the trilogy of Weekend EPs, but you guys felt that the material on the second EP was too good to not make into a full-length. After finishing the record, would you say that it was definitely a good move to switch up the game plan?
Oh yeah, yeah. And we have talks of putting out The Weekend: Saturday and The Weekend: Sunday after this comes out, maybe as an acoustic album or a country album, you know—something totally different. Maybe branch into a different genre of music or something.
Was the label completely okay with that switch from the EP to the full-length as well?
Yeah, they were supportive of it. They kind of just follow out lead with whatever we do. That’s kind of one great thing about Universal is that we always know that they have our back.
Does this record follow any specific themes or concept? Was it easy to add-on additional songs to the already-made Saturday EP?
Yeah, as group of guys, man, it’s like—you all have comment interests, you all have common heartbreak and common hobbies and things that you like to write music about. So when we get together, us five, it always seems like the same themes are alas sung about so its real fun and easy process for us to write songs.
How would you compare the writing process to Friday?
Well, Friday was mostly written on the road, which mostly short deadlines that were hard to meet and a lot of pressure. Forever the Sickest Kids had been like a year and a half timeframe and to write enough songs to make a full-length album. And a lot of us will write at home in our home studios where we’re comfortable and with our home producer Geoff Rockwell who helped us with the Television Off, Party On and Underdog Alma Mater and with actually Friday. So we were able to use our home studios a lot for writing and for production and things like that, which adds a certain element of comfort. You know, when you’re in your comfort zone, I think you make your best music. So it was fun to have time to work and perfect an album to the point where we’re happy to put it our. You know, Friday was really just—if I had to describe it in one word, it was rushed.
So the record definitely shows that you guys took you time to make the best product you could?
We all hope so. We all think so, yes.
“Keep On Bringing Me Down,” the first song on the record,” has been out since the summer. How has the total reception been from fans up to this point for that track?
Well that track has been the one that we’ve had written the longest; it was the one that came out the easiest; it’s one that we think takes us back to our roots of Underdog Alma Mater the most. And so that was what we want to do and show the fans, old and new, what Forever the Sickest Kids is about, where we came from, and that we’re back to those roots on our self-titled record.
“Forever Girl,” another song on the record, was released last week and it’s a very different song than a lot of the typical tracks you guys put out. Will there be that similar mix of fast and slow throughout the album?
Yes, this record will have songs that will make you wanna dance, make you wanna sit down and cuddle with a girl, make you wanna get up and punch somebody, and everything in between.
Cool! So it’s definitely more diverse than your previous releases?
Yeah, for sure. We wrote probably 30-40 tracks for the full-length album, and then these eleven are the ones that we feel show the most diversity because that’s one thing about our band that we’ve always based ourselves on. We have so many multi-talented guys in the band: we’ve got three guys that sing great; we have numerous that produce well. So we wanted to show our diversity on this album.
Were fans into “Forever Girl” as well?
I haven’t heard any negative repose on the song. You know I’ve been busy this week, so I haven’t paid attention as much online as sometimes we do. But that song seems like everyone’s attaching to it kind of like they did to “Coffee Break” on the first album. Since a lot of our songs start acoustically, sometimes it’s fun to leave them that way.
The band released the first teaser trailer for the album not too long ago as well and it featured “harder” sounding music than normal. Was there a lot of experimenting in terms of sounds while in the studio?
Yeah, that was another we were able to do: experiment. See what works for us, try some new elements, and you know what we found works best is just where we started. And I’d say a lot of melodic vocals with a lot of heavy guitars, piano and key where it’s needed.
Kent announced to the world that he would be leaving Forever The Sickest Kids this past January. When did he inform you guys of his departure?
The day before he informed the world.
POZ: Oh wow. So that came as a shock I guess?
Jonathan: It was. It ended on good terms and it was something that if it had come from any other member of the band it would have been more of a shock. So, he still lives in our area and he’s still a good friend, and everything ended on good terms. It was just a t a time when we didn’t’ have a lot of time to focus on him leaving the band or anything. We just had to accept it and say good-bye and move on.
POZ: Did that throw the band into a panic whatsoever considering the album was just a month or two from release?
Jonathan: Yes and no. The only reason that we felt panicked is because he left after we had done our album shoots and all of our publicity shoots. So all of the photos that we had had him in them. So we had to go in, bring a photographer in, find a new location, re-pick all the outfits and do the photo shoots all over again. And for not only the inside and outside cover of the CD but also for magazine ads and photos and different things that go along with the publicity and marketing of an album.
Have fans been pretty supportive of the move?
I haven’t talked to one fan about it, so I don’t know. Maybe they didn’t notice or they don’t know or maybe it was so seamless that it didn’t affect the fans.
What will you guys do for the live show now?
I will play keys on maybe the beginning of “Hey Brittany” and the rest of the key parts will be moved to samples. And we’ll fill out the rest of the stage with being able to spread out more. So the live show won’t change much, and what we can’t play, we’ll just move to samples. If there are keys that need to be played, I’ll play those parts.
Forever The Sickest Kids will be heading out on a big tour with Good Charlotte next week as well throughout the US. How stoked are you?
Unbelievably, man! We’ve had a great time on Bamboozle Tour last year with Boys Like Girls and Good Charlotte and Third Eye Blind and L.M.F.A.O. and you know, we made so many close friendships on that tour, and it’s looking like this year will be more tours with friends that we made on that tour such as L.M.F.A.O., Good Charlotte, etc.
Did that come together through Bamboozle Roadshow this past summer?
That’s where we initially met up. I guess, actually, I had met Joel in L.A. previously back in September, which is where we met about The Bamboozle coming together. And he was kind of the brainchild of The Bamboozle tour and he was talking to his booking agent about having us, so we met there in L.A., talked about The Bamboozle Roadshow, made friends with Benji and the rest of the band on that tour, and they made friends with the rest of our band. It just became such a close friendship and we’re both putting out albums around the same time this year so it just made sense to go out together again.
And after that you’ll be heading out on your own headliner with Breathe Carolina, We Are The In Crowd, This Century, and Before Their Eyes. What should the set be like for that one?
That is going to be our first headlining tour on a full-length album, so we will have full production on that album. We’re currently programming LED guitar cabs. Kyle’s moved to a new drum company, so he’s got a kit for that tour that’s going to blow kids away. So the live show will encompass a lot of the new music, and it’ll be our first time to get to play those new songs live. It’s been probably two and a half years since we’ve inserted more than one new song in our set. So it’ll be a really good feeling going on stage and playing a new setlist.
The band will be finishing up touring at Bamboozle festival this April. Will we be seeing any tour dates soon after that?
I know there are talks of overseas after that, going back to Australia, Japan and Brazil first. I don’t know how much of that will be this year and how much will be early next year, but we hope to get one more American tour in between April and the end of the year.
Is there anything set for summer?
Well, the plan was to go our on tour with Selena Gomez, but with acting some things are getting changed, so our summer plans are still up in the air.
Like we mentioned earlier, the band first had plans to release three EPs and may even move to doing those in a different kind of format. Would you see the band possibly getting to that this year?
I doubt it. I think this year and the first half of next year will be completely focused on this full-length album.
Thanks so much for your time, is there anything else that you’d like to add or that we should be on the lookout for?
Man, just stay tuned to our Facebook page because we’re moving a lot of our promotion over there. It’s probably the easiest way to keep in touch with us as well.