I’m usually awkward as all hell on the phone, but Forever The Sickest Kids drummer Kyle Burns called me for his interview from a Walgreens while picking up laxatives, so I’m pretty sure he won this time around. “Yeah dude, I’ve been backed up for three days!” I was afraid to ask why, and sort of feeling like I already knew too much, so instead I brought up Bamboozle.
“Oh it’s gonna be awesome! Crazy things are gonna happen. It’ll be such high energy and I’m probably going to get lost and miss interviews again. Hang on, sorry, I have to pay for this.” He paid and politely thanked the cashier, then jumped right back into super excitement mode. “Actually, it’s really special this year, because our two performances at Bamboozle are also our last two dates on tour. It all leads up to that.”
The Spring Break Your Heart Tour is in full swing now, with Forever The Sickest Kids headlining and playing with their friends in Breathe Carolina, Before Their Eyes, This Century and We Are The In Crowd. They play a show every night this month; all of it culminating into their big Bamboozle bash. All in all it‘s a pretty sweet gig, and they’ve accomplished quite a lot. But how did they get to this point?
Kyle, along with bandmates Jonathan Cook (vocals), Austin Bello (bass/vocals), Caleb Turman (guitar/vocals) and Marc Stewart (guitar), hasn’t changed himself to fit a certain mold. Sure, FTSK has played alongside buzz bands like All Time Low and 3OH!3, but they refuse to be pigeonholed as one particular sound. Each member brings a different set of creative elements to the table, and they try to keep it diverse, fresh and surprising. By making sure things don’t get stale, they’re making sure they stay relevant as a band and as musicians, which is definitely commendable.
“We’ve been working really hard nonstop for the last four years, longer even; going on the road, writing, recording. And we’ve never been about numbers or popularity. We just do what we do because we love it.” A boost from an accidental PureVolume main page didn’t hurt their success, either. When I asked him about that, he laughed. “We had been checking out prices on PureVolume, just looking, and $350 that we didn’t have was accidentally spent on the front page placement of a song that we also did not have. At that point, we were like, shit, we have to record. And that’s what we did. We released Hey Brittany and then it kinda just took off.”
‘Kinda’ is kinda an understatement; the release of that single and the help of the PureVolume ad sent their fan base sky-high, and spurred a bidding war amongst eight record labels. The guys eventually signed to Universal Motown Records Group and have been with them ever since. Originally from Texas, the boys emerged from a very diverse musical melting pot, ranging anywhere from country and western to death metal. “We had to find a way to adapt; we were a pop band in a thriving hardcore scene. We weren’t screaming.”
But they didn’t exactly adapt; they forged their own way. Their most recent record, which is self-titled, was released on March 1 of this year and it features a more grown-up sound. “We’re fortunate to have studios set up in our homes that we can get to easily; we worked with a few different producers and we got to fine-tune and fix and rework things ourselves before taking it in to someone else each time. We really enjoyed putting the final touches on it.“
They took a lot into their own hands with the production of this album, and worked very hard—not just emotionally and technically, but physically as well. “It’s an emotional process, but also a physical one too. We work out. We get strong. It helps our performance, our breathing, everything.” And as for the music, well, the boys are very proud, as they should be. “We’re super excited about the record. It’s very well put together and tighter sounding; we’ve grown as a band in our instrumentation and showmanship, and you can hear it.”
What also shows on the album, as well as in live performance, is the chemistry between all members. “We’re like brothers. I’d take a bullet for any of them,” Kyle says. “When things get rough, we stick to it and we stick together. We also have a lot of support from our friends and family and girlfriends back home, which definitely helps.” That chemistry is only one of the things that sets Forever The Sickest Kids apart from many of the bands that are big today though; I think the most impressive thing is that, even with help and guidance from management and their label, they still do a lot of things themselves.
“We’re actually kind of sheltered from the scene… We’re usually so focused on what we’re going to do next or ideas for this and that, we sometimes forget to pay attention. And people will ask us if we saw what so-and-so is up to and we’ll be like, ‘Nah, but guess what we have planned for this!’ We come up with our lyrics, our music, we set up our stage show and we try to have as much to do with the production of everything as possible also. So much runs through our heads all the time!”
And while that may be the case, when performing the guys remain totally focused and on-point. They create an atmosphere that doesn’t fizzle midway through the set, and they don’t half-ass it. I may be somewhat jaded when it comes to most current music, but I can really respect and get behind musicians who actually get their hands dirty, but at the same time don’t take themselves too seriously and know how to have fun with their craft.
In a time when everything is so manufactured and easily sellable, it’s refreshing to see a band step up and demand a say in what goes on with their efforts—and it’s actual genuine effort. You can’t fake that. So what’s next? What are some of the things Kyle and the boys would like to accomplish some time in the future?
“I want everyone in the world to own a copy of our new album, and I’d love to play overseas again. Japan, Australia. Oh, and I want wax statues to be made of us and put in wax museums all around the U.S. I just think that would be awesome. Right?”
Well, dreaming big hasn’t let them down so far, and I really can’t foresee an end to this hot streak of theirs. With extensive touring, new singles, videos and increased radio play, it only seems that more and more opportunities will present themselves. Treating all of their fans like gold isn’t hurting, either. When I asked if there was anything Kyle would specifically like to say or mention, there most certainly was.
“Uh, yes, never ever leave your phone in a Starbucks by accident because you will realize you don’t have it just before an interview with Bamboozle Magazine and totally miss that call, our new album is available everywhere, online and in stores, and please join in on our Bamboozle partying by coming to our tent and hanging out. Also, you have a nice radio voice. Did you know that? You do.”
The new album, Forever The Sickest Kids, is literally available everywhere. For more information, check out foreverthesickestkids.com and don’t miss their sets at this year’s Bamboozle Festival on April 29 and April 30.