It takes a lot of work to make it to the musical big leagues. Whether you started rocking in your parents' garage or writing songs in your bedroom, the journey to the top takes time, effort, and a great deal of learning. Hellogoodbye
, the Huntington Beach-based synth pop turned indie pop project of Forrest Kline, has certainly had an intriguing rise to the outskirts of stardom. We got a chance to speak to Forrest about the group's upcoming album, Everything is Debatable
, working with a new record label, and what it's like getting ready to embark on their biggest tour to date.
Tell us about writing and recording Everything is Debatable.
Normally I take a pretty generous amount of time but it was definitely a lot shorter than the last records - it was about a year and a half from the beginning of writing and conceiving of things until we were done. I know some bands go in and knock out a thing in a month and sometimes they even write it in studio, but I've never been that way. I usually have a good nine months of free form, letting my mind wander, coming up with ideas, combing through them, and working on them. We probably spend about three months total actually recording. But it's a nice way, the way I do it. I like to have the freedom, at least in the beginning, to let my thoughts wander and figure out what I want to do and figure out what I've done, what it is, and what it could be. So, I did all that and recorded with Joe Chiccarelli, which was a cool experience - he's a big name dude, I was really impressed by his whole roster. He's worked with amazing, inspiring artists that I've loved for a long time - the Smiths, Morrissey, the Strokes, and he hooked up all these great musicians - we had great drummers, horn guys, and synth guys - stuff that I never would have been able to have access to on my own.
How does it differ from your previous releases?
The first record was comprised of things I'd been working on in high school, stuff I'd been sequencing on a laptop, singing in a bedroom whispering, so I made a record off of that. It was definitely a big departure in the sense that three or four years passed between the first and second records and in that period I built a studio and we stopped making music. The second record, we kind of threw out the whole kitchen sink and started from the ground up in terms of the way I worked - and we had a new approach to recording and writing. This record we didn't need to do that so much because I'd moved into a more legitimate way of doing things so this time it was just being comfortable and expanding ideas.
What are you most excited about for the upcoming tour with Paramore?
Well it's a really exciting tour. We've played a couple of shows here and there with Paramore - they've always been super sweet and super cool and we hang out every once in a while, so we kind of thought it would be perfect. It's the biggest tour we've ever done - the biggest tour we've ever been a part of. We're playing places we've never been in, so it's incredible in that sense for sure. And also, with the record, we're playing a lot of new stuff - there's definitely a sense of pulling out all the stops, so we're trying to do it up the best we can. It's interesting trying to approach a thing like that because everything is important but it's a two week thing, then we have another thing after that and you just have to do it - we all know it's special.
Can you tell us an epic story from being on the road?
It's a broad category because so many things happen and it's always crazy. Our drummer touched a crocodile once - that was scary. And then, we flipped our van, and that was kind of life changing. It definitely made me think way differently about doing any kind of late night driving because the guy fell asleep. He totaled the thing, it rolled one and a half times, destroyed the trailer, destroyed all the gear. Nobody was hurt, but nobody was buckled up - we rolled around in that thing. Then when it stopped rolling, we just kind of looked around and the driver was like, "Sorry, I apologize," and we made sure everyone was okay. Then we just kind of immediately went back to making jokes about it, which was surreal. It was only later when we really started reflecting on how gnarly it was. So, that's definitely one of the craziest things that happened to us on tour.
I know you all have had some major record label problems in the past. How has the experience with Old Friends differentiated from that?
It's been amazing so far. I've known them for a long time and I have a very good personal relationship with Bob [Becker]. The last record we put out on our own, but this record we're doing with a team and there are people involved. It's amazing to have people who you can rely on to help you out with getting the records out there. Before we just didn't do a lot because we had to pick one or two aspects to focus on and that was it. So it's exciting getting to work all of these angles that we'd always thought about but we would have never been able to do on our own.
You've done a lot of great covers over the years - what goes into selecting a song to cover and what do you have planned for the future?
You know, they're always kind of on a whim. There's never a big to-do about doing a cover. It has to be a song that you love and can see yourself pulling off. There are songs where it's like, I love the song but I couldn't do it - maybe that's why I love it. So, finding a nice one that kind of meets both sides is how they get picked. And sometimes it's like, "this would just be funny to play "Dammit" every time."
Who would you consider to be your greatest influences and where do they manifest in your songwriting?
Yea, that's a big question because it's the kind of thing that's been building from the time when I was 10 years old - it's a huge mass of things that I've listened to in my life. I grew up listening to oldies, so I feel like that's kind of the ground floor for me. Then I got into Blink 182 and Weezer and pop punk and power pop and stuff like that. I always loved the Beach Boys from the time I would listen to Oldies radio. I still listen to them today, they're one of my favorite bands for sure. Brian Wilson is one of my favorite writers. During this record I was listening to a lot of Flaming Lips, Spiritualized and The Strokes. A little bit more into groovy dance stuff; I got really into Prince a couple of year ago. I've been listening to all sorts of things like that.
What are you most excited about for the future of Hellogoodbye?
I've learned that you just do what you do and take what comes and hope for the best. You can't really plan in this business. But it's a very exciting time for us - it's our third record and it seems like we're on the precipice of something. It's exciting enough that I don't know what to expect.
Be sure to cop Everything is Debatable
when it hits stores on October 29th (or pre order it here
) and catch Hellogoodbye on tour with Paramore in a city near you. Make sure you Like them on Facebook
and follow them on Twitter