Forever The Sickest Kids are gearing up to release their still-untitled third album on June 25. AltPress contributor Tyler Common spoke with vocalist Jonathan Cook about their progress, working with Patrick Stump and returning to Warped Tour.
How are you all gearing up for your June 25 album release?
COOK: We're actually working on transitions between the songs on the album; we're writing some keyboard and spoken-word transitions that flow from song to song. So, it's a big deal for us–releasing the album will be a big sense of relief. Now the fun parts are coming up: the album art, photo shoots, picking a photographer for those sort of things, designing new logos for the band, that kind of stuff.
This is your first album without guitarist Marc Stewart. Did his absence change the writing process?
It went pretty smoothly. I would say the process didn't change that much. The only thing we had to do differently was learn how to evolve as a band. It's been over two-and-a-half years since we put out an album. So, we're all older, a little more mature—as are our fans. The big hurdle was evolving with our fans and within ourselves as a band to put out new material that was a progression rather than a regression.
On this release, you worked with producer Mike Green (All Time Low, Paramore). What was it like working with him?
It was incredible to know we finally recorded a full-length album with only one producer. We recorded front-to-back with Mike Green; we were in one studio for mostly the whole time. The reason I say “mostly” is because there was a [part] of the album process where we did a couple co-writes in other studios, but a majority of those songs didn't get used. It ended up being a good portion of the songs we wrote at my house in Texas. We went out and recorded with Mike and had a pretty set schedule, keeping us focused and efficient. We felt a great sense of accomplishment every week during recording.
How many songs were written versus how many will be used for the album?
I think we wrote 46 songs and will end up picking 12 songs for the records, with one or two bonus tracks.
Are there any specific songs on the album that you have a personal connection with?
Yeah, there are two songs that really stood out and grabbed me, and a third song that really stood out because it's something we haven't done in a while. I'd say "Chin Up, Kid" is one of the songs, and "Nikki" is another one. Then there's another one called "My Friends Saved Me," which is an acoustic, organic song that we haven't tried since "Coffee Break" [from the first album, Underdog Alma Mater] so it feels good to have a stripped-down acoustic song on the record.
Can we expect any collaborations on the album?
We haven't finalized the collaborations on the album just yet, but we did co-write "Nikki" with Patrick Stump. We reached out to him to see if he wants to be part of the song, or if it even makes sense time wise because they're putting out a new album, so he may be too busy. He did express interest in possibly singing on "Nikki." We're also fetching a couple other features from other artists we're fans of.
How does this album sound sonically compared to your past release? You put out a cover of Rihanna's "We Found Love" (for Fearless' Punk Goes Pop Volume 5) which featured a breakdown and screams—a first for you guys. Will this record reflect that sound as well?
This will be a rock record. There is a little bit of screaming on the record, but nothing like the Rihanna cover. The Rihanna cover actually happened as a joke, but whenever we listened back to it, we liked it. I wouldn't say that cover represents the sonic style or quality of the record we just finished.
You mentioned that for this album you had the most time you've ever had to write and record. Did this help shape the record in a more positive way than your past albums?
Oh, absolutely. We've never been able to have transitions between songs like this, or a cohesive attitude/subject matter like this. We've never been able to write so many songs to weed out the best ones. The more songs you write, the better the album's gonna be. We just kept writing and writing and writing together, growing closer and more unified as a band. We talked about making it a 15-song album, but it just didn't work time-wise and financially. We did as many as we could; it's definitely a full-length at 12 songs. This will be something that if it goes the way we planned, our fans will say that this is the best album we've ever put out. We feel like it's the best record we've ever made.
Do you have a specific name for the record yet?
We're still tossing around names. I know that the acronym of our names spells "J.A.C.K." so we were thinking of naming the album that.
FTSK are playing this summer’s Warped Tour for the first time in a while. Are you excited to head out on Warped again with new music to push?
Yeah, and I'll say it took a toll on us with the past couple years being overseas during Warped. We were invited to play their golf tournament about three to four months ago while we were in L.A., and we got to hang with the NOFX guys and Kevin Lyman along with the non-profits. It felt really great to be around the Warped crew again. This year will be our fourth year on the tour. Kevin Lyman kinda told us that we're the "seniors" this year in college/high school of bands, so it's a great feeling to be able to get back out there. Writing this record, we had Warped Tour crowds in mind and hope it will translate well with the Warped crowd. Just straight up rock songs that will be fun to mosh to, crowd surf, real sing-alongs. I think we've gone back to our roots.