Well at the same time though, you have songs like ‘Inspired By The $’ that are strictly about the music industry. How do you balance accessibility with telling a personal story?
I think what people are drawn to about our music is the amount of my personal life that I put into it. I really lay it all down on the line for people to read. Songs like ‘Inspired By The $,’ I just try to write about things that I’ve been thinking about in my life at that point, and at that point it was a big struggle to actually write something that the label would consider a hit.
They were looking for a ticket to get me into the studio to make them want to release my record and at that point I was just so fed up with it I had to write something that would cater to my musical needs more than theirs. That’s where ‘Inspired’ came from.
How did being signed young affect the band?
There was a couple months where we had to put the band on hold because I had to graduate high school and I was in my junior year so I had to double up on classes and take a few night courses and a couple summer sessions in order to get out. There was just a couple months of limbo we had to wait in for me to get out of school. Besides that, I think the age gap got filled pretty soon because I was such good friends with the guys that it didn’t really matter to us.
And it seemed like kids were pretty stoked on it because the things that I would write about would be the things they were going through in their life.
But at the same time, now they’re not going through something like ‘Inspired By The $.’ How do you think that kind of thing will carry over?
I don’t know. I hope people will understand. I think they can. Just by listening to the record, they’ll know that this is our attempt to really be serious about the music that we make and they’ll understand that we’re trying to make a progression with our band and not do the same thing over and over again.
You can hear that on a song like ‘Photography.’
What influences in particular came out on that track or a track like ‘Ready?’
Well, ‘Photography’ was pretty much just a straight up love song that I tried to take all the cheese out of and tried to get down to the actual feeling of love, what it makes you want to do, you know, does it make you want to just go outside and sing and hang from a streetlight, like you’re in a musical or something. It’s such a magical feeling, how do you say that without being cheesy? That’s what I tried to do for that song.
‘Ready’ kind of goes along with the same kind of vibe as ‘Inspired.’ It was another song where I was really going against the grain of what the label wanted me to do, and they heard that song and they said, ‘Well, can we make this song more standard verse/chorus formula?’ and I pretty much refused and that kind of is just the large sum of the lyrics.
In the beginning it tries to show how vulnerable I am to large teams of people. I’m really just one kid writing these songs and these songs are all I have. I’m trying to get that to come across.
Do you feel like you got locked into the whole pop punk thing from being on Drive-Thru?
I think a certain label comes with it. I don’t feel like we’re locked in because I know what our influences are and I know what we’re capable of now, and I think a lot of bands when they start out, you listen to a lot of bands’ first records and they’re not very original, they kind of just mimic what’s prominent at the time.
For us, it was what we were looking to a lot back then and we didn’t really have a lot of time to find our own sound or experiment, to really create something super original.
How do you think it’s changed now?
I think there’s some tracks on the record where you can’t really say it sounds like another band, and hopefully eventually people will come up with something and maybe someday they’ll say, ‘Oh, that sounds like Starting Line.’ That’s what I strive for, to inspire other bands.
Based On A True Story will be released May 10. Catch The Starting Line on Saturday, April 30 at this year’s Bamboozle in Asbury Park, NJ.