AltPress Issue 399
[Photos by: Pooneh Ghana/the Aubreys; Jordan Knight/DED; Jonathan Wiener/Bishop Briggs and Sueco]

From the Aubreys, Spiritbox and DED to Bishop Briggs, Sueco The Child and Tom Morello, issue #399 is jam-packed with musicians who are leading the way for alternative music.

The onset of fall and the fast approach of Halloween offer an occasion for us to reflect on the passage of time. With this issue, Alternative Press brings interviews and features highlighting a wide range of artists, many of whom are thinking about aging, evolving and otherwise adapting to the changing world we live in.

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Making their AltPress cover debut is the Aubreys. Connecting with writer Maria Sherman, the duo made up of Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard and drummer Malcolm Craig brought us into their world as young artists and individuals. Along the way, the pair detailed their studious commitment to experimenting with the history of alternative rock, from the Modern Lovers and Wilco to Tame Impala and Animal Collective. They also explained the vision behind their debut full-length, Karaoke Alone.

“We definitely did not want it to be ‘the pandemic album,’” Wolfhard says of the project. “That can be pretty cringe-y. It’s such a gimmick. You’ve got to find a healthy medium. I’d say ‘Karaoke Alone’ is the one song on the album that has to do with isolation, full stop. That’s a theme of the album: isolation. When you’re a teenager, growing up—now we’re young adults—inherently, isolation is a theme. We have gone through it. Even though we have a lot of friends that we love and adore, sometimes you just feel lonely, as a kid. That’s what happens.”

Also appearing as first-time cover artists are metalcore band DED. Ali Cooper spoke with founding member Joe Cotela about the band’s artistic mission. The leader of the Arizona upstarts explained their commitment to making rock that sticks to the path laid out by punk, hardcore and nü metal: hard-hitting music that is also rich in themes of self-empowerment. Cotela also spoke about the deep emotional perspective that informs their album School Of Thought.

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“I’ve had some really tough bouts of anxiety over the last 10 years,” Cotela reveals. “I’ve gone to cognitive therapy and a lot of different things, and it’s made me take a step back. It’s changed my whole viewpoint on things. It makes me want to tell people to take control of their brains, their thought process, their bodies and be healthy, everything that changed my life because I was really struggling with anxiety and bouts of depression.

“All the lyrics are about taking a step back, thinking about yourself, thinking about what we take as everyday stuff,” he continues. “The term ‘school of thought’ is about a group of people that think a certain way and have a certain ethos, so I really wanted that to be a part of everything—for people to listen to the music to dig deep into the lyrics and to understand that even though it’s negative-sounding, it’s all positive underneath.”

Bishop Briggs and Sueco The Child round out our list of artists appearing on our cover for the first time. Interviewed by yours truly, the pair appeared in a stunning, Halloween-themed cover inspired by the classic film Nightmare Before Christmas. While we couldn’t help but chat about the meaning of one of our favorite holidays, the conversation turned into a larger meditation on the artists’ personal journeys, their perspectives on music and how they are making music that helps others.

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“It’s that middle ground of feeling completely vulnerable in my existence of life and also when I’m onstage trying to be that empowered self,” Briggs says of walking a delicate tightrope as a performer. “It’s really stemmed from a mix of sharing my experience and noticing that it can be helpful just in a human connection way.”

“​​When I was younger, there’s a lot of fucked-up shit going on,” Sueco explains of his own personal approach to his artistry. “One of the ways that I was able to deal with everything, besides creating music, was obviously listening to it and finding solace in it. When I say I want to help people, I want to help people through this, through music, the way that I felt like I was helped… Everything I’m going to be dropping, everything that I’m doing moving forward, that’s what it’s designed to do.”

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Also in this issue:

  • Tom Morello describes what it meant to have Rage Against The Machine’s first performance in 10 years delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and how he fought against depression by recording The Atlas Underground Fire.
  • Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante spoke with AltPress about the band’s breakout hit album, Eternal Blue, and dissects how the record uniquely merges heaviness and vulnerability to connect with fans.
  • Frontman Spencer Charnas explores Ice Nine KillsThe Silver Scream 2, showing how the release follows classic horror templates to make the body count and their sound even bigger.
  • Deb Never talks about her ambitious and confessional EP, Where Have All The Flowers Gone? She also explained her dream of flying—literally and figuratively—to achieve a feeling of total weightlessness.

Plus, get to know your new favorite artists, from POORSTACY and Mike’s Dead to JAWNY and this month’s group of AP&R recommendations.