This year was undoubtedly huge for blackbear, both personally and professionally. Having celebrated many milestones, including the announcement of his second child and an engagement, blackbear seems to be in a reflective place going into the new year. From the extreme highs of his personal life, he gained a new perspective on love and plans to carry that notion further with his new music. In addition, blackbear’s gearing up to release his most reflective, nostalgic and personal album to date, leaning into his pop-punk and emo roots by paying homage to the bands that inspired him to make music in the first place. 

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While his previous record, Everything Means Nothing, was highly successful, receiving a gold certification and boasting several impressive singles, his goal this time is to create a release that’s even more heartfelt. That means tackling subjects such as the loss of his father, substance misuse, sobriety, parenthood, mental health and the whirlwind career he was thrown into. 2021 was a learning experience for blackbear, and it’s clear that he has absorbed much wisdom and insight going into the new year. As an artist, blackbear has always been an open book, both lyrically and sonically, and he plans to continue this with everything he creates to the fullest extent.

You have reached some amazing personal milestones with the birth of your first son, an engagement and the announcement of another child on the way. How has fatherhood and family shaped you since then, and how has it informed your music? 

That’s a good question. It definitely calmed down a lot. I didn’t know what to do with my hands for a while, and now I have my hands full. The fact that my hands are full now is beautiful, and it has changed my music in many ways. I learned how to love in a different way. The love that I talk about in my music isn’t the same as the love I talked about before with my previous music. I guess you could say that my heart has grown exponentially. 

As the world is starting to feel more nostalgic, where artists are looking back to the music of their youth, do you have any plans to return to your roots in pop punk and emo? It’s well documented that you have a love for these genres, and there has definitely been a revival of sorts with a modern twist. 

I came from emo, spot on. [Laughs.] My new album is very alternative and pop punk. I am doing it with Travis Barker, and it’s called In Loving Memory. The whole idea behind the album is [a] letter to my father who passed away, and I never got to say goodbye. I’m making this music that is true to my roots, and I’m bringing out guest stars like Jordan Pundik from New Found Glory and Bert McCracken from the Used. I’m paying homage to the bands I grew up listening to with this album. 

How do you plan to continue to push yourself as both a songwriter and producer in the next year?

I continue to stay open-minded, and when an opportunity comes my way, I give it a full 10 minutes of meditation to think about how I can take it to the moon and back. [I] just want to continue to write songs from the heart, and if they find their homes, it’s fun, even if it’s obscure. I just rent Airbnbs since my home studio isn’t finished and write songs from the heart, no matter what. 

Coming off a massive support run with Maroon 5, what did this experience teach you? 

It was definitely challenging because I’m used to the crowd singing every word and not having to put in so much work. For this tour, I had to sing every fucking word because no one knew any of my lyrics. I was out of breath and found out I was out of shape and had to start running. [Laughs.] I also learned to take time off because on this tour, we would play a show and then take a day off in between each show and so on. I’m definitely going to adopt that into my tour. It was really cool to play to audiences that would never hear blackbear before.

Sonically and personally, is there anything else you want to really home in on with this upcoming record? 

It’s definitely not going to be as pop. I really want to get in touch with who I am. I want to write about the dad I strive to be today. There’s a lot of struggles, anxiety and depression that come from being a young dad and coming from nothing and coming from garage bands to then be thrust into winning a VMA and touring with Maroon 5. It’s just been a huge mindfuck that I want to write about. 

What is the legacy you want to continue to build and leave behind as you look to the next generation and this next year in general? 

I just want to be able to help people, and the therapeutic aspect of writing that resonates with people is why I do this. I love my fucking fans so much, and I just hope the next blackbear loves their fans half as much as I do.

Is there anything that you haven’t covered with your music, either personally or socially, that you want to dive into?

I’m coming up on three years of sobriety in January, and I want to open up and talk about that more, and it is definitely a topic sprinkled throughout this new album. I always want to talk about my struggles with substance abuse and making it out of that period. It’s a bigger topic than I let on, and so now I’m really touching on it, which is really big for me.

This interview first appeared in issue #401 (the AP Yearbook), available here.