We caught up with Issues at this year’s Download Festival! See what happened when we spoke with Michael and Josh below…
Butterflies still build up before performances like today?
Michael: Yeah definitely! For festivals like this, especially when there is a lot of press and a lot of people watching, you want to make a good impression. You got to make sure everything is solid so we shake it off quick.
Bumped into any familiar faces?
Josh: Only a few, we’ve caught up with the guys in Northlane, currently sharing a bus with State Champs and seen a couple of the guys from Motionless In White.
Anyone you are excited to catch live after/before your set?
Michael: I think we are staying for the whole festival actually but we are pretty hyped to catch System Of A Down’s set later which should be cool.
Having more than enough experience when it comes to touring and being on a stage, when it comes to UK festivals, what is the biggest difference you’ve noticed between them and American festivals?
Michael: A lot more people!
Josh: In the UK and Europe, the people here are a little more open-minded as far as heavier music goes, whether that is rock or something slightly more aggressive. The states are a little strange like that because America definitely has its core fan base but it’s a lot harder to do festivals like Download over there of this size due to those close-neck commitments to certain bands and not others.
Michael: Unlike back home, it feels like the people that come to these events have an insane amount of passion for everything that is happening. Its almost like they come JUST to hear live music, regardless of who is playing.
Seeing both of you perform before in Cardiff back in May last year, it is very apparent how comfortable you are in your roles of the band but was it always your intention to take the role you have in music, instrument-wise?
Michael: I love the drums and still have a kit that I mess around with but I haven’t practiced in so long with band commitments and John is just a beast with what he does so watching him makes me question everything.
Josh: It’s so cool being in a band like this because everyone bar Skyler (bassist) can literally play the drums to a jam degree so being around people who think so rhythmically gives us so much freedom to try weird stuff. Both of my parents were musicians growing up and I’ve been playing the drums since I could walk and knew that was the road to go down. I definitely can’t sing, I can barely play guitar so it was quite an easy decision.
Is there an instrument you would love to try and learn?
Josh: Piano….but I never had the patience.
Michael: I would kill to be able to play guitar, especially when I can visualise exactly what I would love to write and lay it down but I just can’t crack it.
Your music has always carried a significant balance of different genres, predominantly rhythm and blues and heavy metal which has ultimately led to your music breaking boundaries in music categorisation. Other than those in the metal/rock world, was there any influence of your own partly responsible for the interest in mashing two such contrasting styles together?
Josh: I think for us it was each other’s massive interests and also difference of interest that made it such a natural progression. Everyone brings their influences to the table and my own influences were not afraid to test boundaries. No one who got huge back in the day was ever safe in that sense. We live in a day and age where as consumers of music, there is so much accessibility in genres and styles that you don’t have to necessarily go through the traditional route to get your music out. You can be weird and genuine which everyone vibes with.
You guys have a natural talent for building up your crowd’s momentum with your enormous anthems and big breakdowns, can you remember your most challenging audience?
Michael: Paris was tough. We’re still going to places we’ve never been so we still find that we have to work for the audience and sell it as hard as possible.
Josh: It keeps us hungry though and keeps us on form in that way. You go to these sorts of shows and that general vibe the crowd give off of “Impress me”, really gets us pushing our limits.
With the current political tensions rising to an all-time high here, I was hoping to be briefly inquisitive on your own politics. With the president inaugurated nearly five months now, how are tensions in America at the moment?
Josh: What you see is what you get because America is more divided than we have been in a very long time. I come from Atlanta which is very conservative and there is even division in my family between current political views.
Michael: I was watching the news yesterday and everything seems like such a mess right now. I think so many people realise though the seriousness of it all however that this is something not to be taken lightly which is reassuring to see.
Josh: Things are definitely changing and I think this election has caused a lot of people to wake up and that’s what we’re about. Whatever you believe, we have little control over but just start caring.
It’s no secret that politically-fuelled artists and music-related material are currently at an all time high with groups such as Stray From The Path, Enter Shikari, Rise Against, Sonic Boom Six, Drones and countless more constantly attempting to bludgeon the system and open as many eyes as possible. I know you as a band have strong opinions on police regulation, observation and such but do you think there is room for more political involvement for future Issues material?
Josh: We try to be genuine people and if something is on our chest then it will definitely be brought up.
Michael: We wouldn’t want to force anything and just be political. Addressing police brutality is a deep topic for us with members of the band having experience with the police in the past.
Josh: We would never want to be thought of as ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ because it’s just not true.
Anyone you’re currently listening to who you predict big things for?
Michael: I’ve been listening to a band called The Gospel Youth and they’re sick at what they do. We’re still jamming the latest Architects album too.
Josh: The 1975 are great and Chris Stapleton’s new album is awesome, definitely one to check out.