Among the influx of ambitious pop-punk and emo bands that have generated from 2012 to now, As It Is stick out for an almost unmatched work ethic, as they’re about to release their 3rd album The Great Depression. Coming only a year after their adored Okay, an album where the focus was unrelentlessly uplifting, the band have done a total 180 on all fronts; their creative process, their style and their songwriting perspective.
Frontman Patty Walters opened up about the writing process for The Great Depression – a process where the title, vision and theme was set in stone before the actual songwriting had begun.
“I think the things that made this album really difficult to begin, with but ultimately very rewarding was the fact that having such a profound vision to begin with, you don’t really know where to begin. Every place you do try to begin – I don’t know – just taking small chips away at something.”
This theme that the album hits home is a focus on society’s perception of mental health. Rather than talking about the individual experience, The Great Depression is a look at how people at large in this digital era have interpreted and spread certain outlooks on the issue.
“This record began with a question and then an explanation and then the fact that I wanted to explore the idea that we have a society or a scene that potentially romanticises mental illness. Instead of trying to eradicate into that certain stigmas and prejudices that were at times going too far and perpetuating the damage of talking about these issues.”
Writing music to a predetermined theme is hard to keep within constraints,”you don’t have this sense of- not necessarily contributing to the vision straight away,” said Walters.
However, making this step meant enough that they kept the vision in mind, and the outcome proved to achieve what they had hoped.
“It was just a matter of keeping it in mind. Always writing lyrics, always writing music, piecing songs together slowly but surely. I think in a lot of ways it was more difficult than just writing songs individually that are conceptually separate.”
Patty hits on a few topics regarding mental health that are up for debate, particularly whether or not it’s inclusion in popular culture has lead to a desensitisation of the issue, which in turn has raised the romanticisation of depression. Increased awareness is inherently a good thing, we all agree on that, but certainly has the potential to be taken too far and have negative results.
“I think it is, for the most part if not entirely so, for the better that we normalise these kinds of conversations; that we are a little more desensitised to talking about mental health, that we’re not ashamed or being judged in the same way as we used to as recently as 10 years ago, maybe even as recently as 5 years Ago.”
“I think for the most part, it’s mostly a good thing. But I do that there are going to be instances where they take it too far, where people let their depression or their anxiety – that they’re mentioned in social media bios and the such that this is somehow one of the most relevant things about who they are and their identity.”
Coming from the crazed, fan-obsessed world of emo, tumblr-birthed YouTubers, Patty’s outlining of the depths of social media’s impact on yourself is certainly an experienced one to go by.
“I’ve had a very interesting relationship with social media coming from a background in YouTube. Numbers, likes, views, analytics were very detrimental to my mental health. They really consumed me as a person. I let those things validate me or at least felt like they did because those things can never validate you”
Since Patty Walters himself admits to succumbing to the trials of maintaining a social media status, we can now feel comforted in that it’s almost impossible not to fall into the downsides of these platforms. “At times, when your self esteem and your sense of self is so low and unestablished, if people think the world about you at times you’re actually going to feel more empty becuase of those kind words.”
“So I really had to learn to love myself before i could let anybody else love me in that sense. We’re just clearing up that social media is not irreparably bad nor was it designed to be harmful in anyway, as Patty nicely explains, “The thing i’ve learnt about social media is that it’s not inherently good or bad. It’s just like any other platform.
It’s the result of how you use it and if you let social media be toxic in your life, then it’s going to have detrimental effects on your mental health. I only follow the bare minimum of people so that i’m not consuming more than creating these days.”
While Patty is never one to shy away from being open about his mental health to us, he always appears gleeful and camera-ready, and he shared with us his way of framing his own situation to live happily and smile when there’s no other option.
“There’s not a part of me that really hides away how I’m feeling. The thing is as much as being in a band is a dream come true, it’s ultimately my job so I gotta do my best at it. On stage, if I’m not feeling great, I still give it 100%, and I give every interview the best version of myself because this all means so much to me. I love my job and I never want to be giving less than a hundred per cent to anything.”
“I don’t know if I have any tricks or tips, maybe this type of performance is something that helps me cope when I’m not feeling best. I think perspective is important and if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed it’s important to just remember the positives in this world.”
“Don’t concern it with “it could be worse, it could be better”, you’re entitled to feel what you feel, and you should always respect that but at the same time, your problems aren’t the be-all-and-end-all that’s always going to get better and that every day is there to be. Just give it the best you can and to end that day and if that day isn’t your best day, tomorrow is going to be another day”.
Covering the details of how the new album came to be, and subsequently going above and beyond to share insight into how he’s handled the negative side of social media, to provide a quick and straightforward tactic to live in the moment – it’s no surprise that Patty was an easy, loose chat in which he felt anything but guarded.