Interrupters hysteria

THE INTERRUPTERS // Interrupted Plans, DIY & Album #4 With Aimee Interrupter & Kevin Bivona

Going into early 2020, Los Angeles based rockers The Interrupters had significant plans to further their legacy as masters of all things ska, punk and rock.

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With tentative seeds planted for a fourth album, a follow up to their 2018 third release Fight the Good Fight, as well as an opening slot for Green Day’s intended stadium tour. For obvious reasons, the best laid plans went awry, with the global pandemic plunging most around the world into lockdown and The Interrupters usual album processes needing an unexpected overhaul.

crossfaith hysteria

Cut to the group, consisting of vocalist Aimee Interrupter, guitarist and vocalist Kevin Bivona, bassist Justin Bivona and dummer Jesse Bivona, turning an LA garage into a home recording studio, learning DIY skills via YouTube tutorials, and capturing the process for a broader documentary titled This Is My Family.

Limiting the groups usual work alongside long-time producer, friend and unofficial “fifth Interruptor”, Rancid co-founder Tim Armstrong, it was Kevin that stepped into the producer’s chair, working alongside his family to bring to life a truly connective, intimate and fun as all hell release for their fourth full-length outing. But while the band are no strangers to success and creating, with the group previously gracing the cover of Kerrang! in 2019, touring the globe and picking up millions of streams along the way, something significant changed for the group, intrinsically and beyond – and this change, polish and expansive progression are noticeably the driving forces behind In The Wild

Speaking just days out from the release of In The Wild, Aimee and Kevin’s enthusiasm is equal to if not entirely greater than the excitement simmering away for fans of the band, patiently waiting for the new material.

“We are so excited,” Aimee enthuses.

“It feels like a long time,” Kevin nods in agreement. “We did have a lot more time to work on this one, obviously because of the circumstances. And we just can’t wait for the world to hear it. And the fact that it’s just a couple days away now is very, very exciting. We played a show last night and we had some vinyl, we had a box of like 50 records and we just gave them out to everybody at the show because – we just want people to hear this record so bad!”.

What I realised during all of this, is that it’s so important to follow your passion when it comes to songwriting, and when it comes to telling your story. At the time looking at the 40 songs, the only thing I was really interested in and wanting to record and pursue was to tell my story.
[ Aimee Interrupter ]

Once the band’s bespoke studio had been crafted, thoughts swiftly turned to cultivating a collection of tracks; ones undoubtedly impacted by the band’s adoration for 80s 2 tone ska, 90s punk rock and energetic wildfire, but also one that saw the band entirely on their own for the first time in their 10+ year career. 

“We’re always writing,” Aimee explains. “We had, like, 40 song ideas before we even stepped into the studio, and we were writing before everything got shut down. But I do think all of us living on the same property, us building the studio on the property, and just literally having us four and Kevin producing …”

“Yeah, we were isolated together,” nods Kevin.

“What I realised during all of this,” Aimee muses, looking off into the distance for a moment, “is that it’s so important to follow your passion when it comes to songwriting, and when it comes to telling your story. At the time looking at the 40 songs, the only thing I was really interested in and wanting to record and pursue was to tell my story. Because I haven’t really been vulnerable and let people in a lot to my story and what I’ve gone through in such a personal way.

“I decided that I wanted to tell my story to the best of my ability, and the songs that I was the most passionate about, that I connected the most with, that I really wanted share – that’s what ended up being the record. And I think it’s our most personal and our most vulnerable record.”

With In The Wild offering a deeply raw glimpse into Aimee’s world specifically, the broader Interrupters band were quick to rally behind the transpiring creative direction from day one, with Kevin and twin brothers Justin and Jesse all sharing the same shared outlook to bring the end result to its vivid fruition.

“Because Aimee felt so strongly about that group of songs, the ones she whittled down to,” Kevin elaborates, “it made it really easy for the twins and I, once we started making the record, to really hone in on our job, being there to support that vision and support each song as an individual delicate piece of art that we wanted to help grow as much as possible without getting in the way. 

“It really gave us purpose in a way, because obviously it’s our fourth album, we’ve known each other for over a decade and, and we’ve been touring for almost a decade. We all, in the band, know Aimee’s story already. And then her finally saying to us: I want to tell my story? We were all in on it. And it was such an easy kind of process musically to just know that the purpose was to support the song and the spirit of what’s behind each song”.

“You did a great job,” Aimee replies, smiling at Kevin.

While isolating and creating in a custom-built studio was never on the cards as a potential reality for the band and their impending fourth album pre-pandemic, some silver linings were inevitably found along the way – including Aimee’s penchant to run on “Aussie time”.

“I think that because I’m an insomniac and I always get a second wind at midnight or one in the morning,” Amiee smirks, “I always say I’m on Aussie time, because that’s when my friends are up in Australia, and I’m literally on Aussie time. But, I love singing when I get my second wind, you know, at midnight or one or two in the morning. And because we had the studio on the property and Kevin was such a good sport about it, he would make some coffee and record me when I was at my most energetic, and when I was at my most …

“Connected?” Kevin offers.

“Yeah! Connected to the music,” Aimee concurs. “I just felt like that was such a luxury to be able to perform when I wanted to perform. Because, you know, when you’re in a studio typically, there’s a lot of people relying on you to be there at a certain time. Sometimes you go into a studio and you might not be feeling like singing – but you have to do it! So you do it and you do it. But for this album, I waited until whatever the song was. I waited until I was feeling that feeling. And whenever I was feeling that feeling of that particular song, I would tell Kevin. And usually it was, like, very, very late at night. I would say: OK, I’m ready to do this song tonight, if I was in the moment of all of those emotions on each song. And I think that process is something I would like to take with me in the future”. 

We were so connected to these songs that once you send them to somebody who’s never heard them before and they send them back with their energy on it – the whole picture comes into focus in a way where you’re just like: this is beyond what I could have imagined!
[ Kevin Bivona ]

And while the thought of midnight recording sessions may not appeal to the non-night owls out there, the entire process was equally embraced by Kevin, with the flexibility and open-ended creative possibilities continuing to reveal themselves along the way in new and favourable ways. 

“You can hear some of that coming through in the performances too. Obviously, I’ve been a huge fan of Aimee as a singer forever. And I think everything you’ve ever recorded is amazing,” Kevin says, turning to face Aimee before continuing. “But there’s a certain connection and emotional quality to this stuff. And maybe it’s just because I was in there at four in the morning with her that I remember the feeling. But yeah, there were so many nights where we finished vocals for a song and we would open the studio door and the sun would be coming up – and we just had nowhere to be the next day except in the studio. It really was kind of a blessing in that way”.

Boasting a sweltering array of guest artists throughout the album, including The Skints, Hepcat and ska icon Rhoda Dakar, the unique creation for Into The Wild may have initially been diverted due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic. But, as luck would have it, a majority of the album’s guests were able to eventually step foot in the DIY Interrupters HQ to bring their parts to life in person, including the beloved “fifth” Interruptor: Mr Tim Armstrong himself. But, as the band would soon discover, even those unable to be physically present on-site still effortlessly captured the magic and essence that The Interrupters were ultimately aiming for throughout this album journey.

“There was a moment towards the end, once the record was finished where stuff started to open up again and there was like some hope on the horizon,” shares Kevin. “And we took advantage of that moment and we had Billy Kottage and Jason Freese come over to our studio and do horns. We invited some friends over to do gang vocals, and right around that time we went into Tim’s studio and he cut his verse for As We Live. And we were able to set up at Tim’s studio for a day and have Greg and Alex from Hepcat come and do the vocals, all of us together. And it was just such a beautiful experience being in the studio. But The Skints and Rhoda Dakar sent us their tracks because they were in London. So, it was half and half.

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“But the interesting thing was with the features,” Kevin continues, “it still felt like they were in the room with us in so many ways. We were so connected to these songs that once you send them to somebody who’s never heard them before and they send them back with their energy on it – the whole picture comes into focus in a way where you’re just like: this is beyond what I could have imagined! I know the first time we heard Rhoda’s vocal, we were just stunned. And it was the same with The Skints, we didn’t send them any notes, we didn’t tell them what to do. We just said: send it back. And on everything they sent back – it was perfect!”

“Yeah, we just said: do whatever it is that you do, we love what you do!” Aimee chimes in. “We love what you do!”

With the band now able to plan and perform more live shows, there’s been increasing opportunities for The Interrupters to treat their fans to some of their brand new material in a live setting. And while In The Wild is undoubtedly textbook Interrupters fare overall, albeit with a galvanised evolution as the band continues to evolve, the group did notice one key difference with their crowds when performing new tracks recently.

“What’s interesting on this record, playing the new music,” says Aimee, “and it’s different than previous times before: with every record, we put new songs in the set. Pre-In The Wild, during those moments: people didn’t sing all the songs right away. They just, you know, they’d heard it but there wasn’t this audience participation. With these new ones, we’re getting people instantly singing along to it, which is new for us. It’s totally blowing our minds and we are so grateful for that!”. 

Witnessing fans singing along to fresh material before an album has even been released into the wild is enough to catch any artist by delightful surprise. But as to a standout Interrupters live music memory that sticks out for both Aimee and Kevin after all this time? None other than a baseball stadium extravaganza after years of live music being entirely off the menu involving fellow punk icons Green Day, Weezer and Fall Out Boy

“Touring baseball stadiums with Green Day, Weezer and Fall Out Boy was … pretty insane,” Aimee laughs. “Every night they put on this massive fireworks show in these stadiums – and every night I would get choked up when you’d see, you know, 50,000 people put up their cell phones and be singing. There was just so much beauty and so much love. And it was really something we will never forget”. 

“And, you know, after being gone from live music for so long,” Kevin continues, “Seeing a band like Green Day and how much they appreciate their fans and the interaction they have with their fans was super, super inspirational to watch after a break like that, to see it come back at that scale. I was just happy to be witnessing it most nights. And then to be able to play it? That was just beyond anything we could have imagined when we started this band”.

While all Interrupters eyes are squarely fixed for the moment on the brand new album’s release, there’s also potentially some good news on the cards for fans down under keen to catch the new album and the infamous Interrupters live show, as Aimee and Kevin excitedly reveal.

“What’s next? We wanna come to Australia,” Kevin says without any trepidation.

“Yes!” Aimee says, grinning. “We’re working on it!”

“We’re actually working on it,” Kevin continues. “I mean, we put so much love in this album, we wanna take it everywhere that will have us. So, we’re trying to make as many plans as possible right now to just tour this record and go to as many places as we can. And Australia is at the top of that list because we’ve only been twice – and both times, we’ve just had the best time! The first time we came, we were doing festivals. The second time we came, we came with Green Day and – we just wanna come back! It just feels like it’s been too long!”.

 In The Wild is out Friday 5 August via Hellcat. 

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