Interview: Issues

Published on | 15.02.14



Fighting off a Flappy Bird addiction and overcoming Bieber fever, Issues vocalist Tyler Carter explains exactly why he still likes “the Beebs”.

“We’re all fans of the Beebs,” Issues vocalist Tyler Carter begins, on tour with Bring Me The Horizon. It’s winter in Denver, he’s tucked away in the bus, and the heater isn’t working properly. He may later blame hypothermia for such a statement, considering the stigma often attached to enjoying such acts, but hear him out: “His new album is really awesome; we love the throwback, we love the RnB influence on it. As far as him as a person and what he’s doing, I feel like when I was 18, I was a hooligan more than ever, and that’s no excuse by any means, but I think he’s just being the kid he never really got the chance to be.”

Why is Justin Bieber the first item on the agenda? Well, the first Issues recording was a cover of the Bieber’sBoyfriend for a Punk Goes Pop compilation in 2012. They then followed it up with their seven-track debut EPBlack Diamonds. Touring the world with Bring Me The Horizon, A Day To Remember, Of Mice & Men and more, and receiving a wealth of praise for Black Diamonds after only being a band for a year, it’s clear these guys have some serious talent. That’s due to the unique influence each member contributes.

For anyone who knows of Carter’s previous projects, most notably Woe, Is Me, with whom he parted ways in 2011, the quality of metalcore that Issues produce is no surprise. What come as a revelation, though, is that the whole time Carter was in the Woe, Is Me, he never really quite felt like he belonged there.

“I was in love with [Woe, Is Me] and I loved touring with them, but in the back of my mind I also felt like this wasn’t it. The musicians weren’t where they should have been to have a long-term successful career and I guess in the back of my mind I thought, ‘This is not where I’m going to be for the next five years; this is not where I’m going to end. This is just a milestone; this is just a practice run for what’s to come.’

“Issues has always been my baby, my brainchild. When I quit Woe, Is Me, I set out to be a solo artist, and I’m still doing that, but there was just a lot of aggression that I wanted to put in. I can’t deny rock music – that’s where I got my start, and I’ve just got way too much fucking energy built up to only be a pop singer. There are a lot of things that I wanted to write about in the past but it never felt like the right time. Looking back, it would have been a waste to write a song about the most special person I’ve ever known to waste it on another band that didn’t last.”

That’s why you’ll notice a brutal honesty flowing through Issues 12 tracks. “We’re bringing in more of the elements of the meaning behind the band name Issues,” Carter says on the themes of their debut self-titled record. “Everybody’s issues – good or bad, positive or negative – we kind of took them to write stories about. Whether it’s personal things we’ve been through, or someone we know, or something people can relate to. We didn’t focus enough on that in the past.

“There’s a song [called] Disappear [Remember When] that was written about a friend of mine that I lost some years ago. They were the whole reason that I decided to pursue music as a long-term career, and that song was pretty tough to write and record just because I had to relive a lot of brokenness and a lot of hurt that I endured from that.”

With the new project being such a cathartic experience for its members, they felt it was time to step up their interaction with fans. At the beginning of 2013, they sent out postcards to fans and told them to write down some of their issues and mail them back. The band then scanned the handwriting for use on the cover art.

“A lot of them were really tough. I remember – and AJ [Rebollo, guitar] is going to kill me for telling you this – but I remember one night, we got the first shipment back and there were over 200 of them. We were reading them, and some of them were funny and some were a bit heavy, but then there were some that we’d be reading together and we’d just start crying, we’d just tear up because we couldn’t believe how painful some of these kids were and we felt so bad and I guess that’s when the compassion set in… I think giving these kids an outlet like that is therapeutic in its own way and I think a lot of the kids were probably able to overcome some of the obstacles just being able to express that to us.”

To lighten the mood and create some hype around the finished project, once the artwork was revealed, they encouraged fans to send in their own interpretation of it. The best were uploaded, and even Flappy Bird made an appearance. “They’ve had a bet on the tour, and the person who has the highest score by the end of the tour gets like $200. It looks like AJ’s in the lead,” Carter pauses to inspect the scores. “He’s up to 279, so they’re pretty addicted. I’m trying to not get involved – I don’t want to lose myself.”

Daniel Cribb