MEB staffer Tim Dodderidge recently chatted with Another Lost Year frontman Clinton Cunanan. The two discussed the band’s rise to fame with their debut full-length album, the single “War On the Inside,” and influences.
MEB: Can you give a little background about how the band got started and how you got to where you are today?
Clinton Cunanan: Yeah, it started out as a solo project for me, and as I got into it, it turned into a full band effort. I found guys that were willing to help me with the solo project, and it integrated into a band. We pretty much just went out and toured and toured and toured until we are still touring now (laughs). A lot of grounding, man. We solely accredit everything to doing it the old-fashioned way.
Another Lost Year released their debut full-length album back in September, and as I recall, you have a single that’s been quite successful. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
The single (“War On the Inside”) has made it to radio. We’ve had a #1 with Clear Channel for over 90 days now. We peaked at #9 on Octane’s Big ‘Uns Countdown for that. And the single was really receptive. We’re reaching a small market right now. I don’t know if the album has a fair shot of getting up there quite yet, but honestly, I couldn’t be happier. The first full-length, doing it this way, is quite an incredible feeling. We’re all really happy with the reception we’ve been getting, and we run into people in every state who know who we are. They’ll be like, “Hey, you guys are in that band.” We’re pretty happy.
Why do you think “War On the Inside” stands out as a strong rock single?
I think it’s a song anyone can relate to. It’s about a personal experience of mine. The video depicts drug abuse – not saying we’ve all had a battle with that, or anything like that. It was more so choosing the right door, knowing which way to go. Do I stop what I’m doing, or do I continue what I’m doing? I think people latch on to that. It’s real. I didn’t force that song. Honestly, it took me about 20 minutes to write. I think it’s just an anthem and everyone can sing along by the second verse. People kind of like that.
What was the writing/recording process like? Was it different than anything you’ve done in the past?
It was. We recorded a couple EPs prior to producing the full-length album. The producer of Better Days, Justin Rimer, is a genius. He pretty much put us on steroids when we entered the studio. It was an amazing experience. It was like the album had come to life, and we’d go wherever it took us. We didn’t ask questions; we went where it went.
What inspires your lyrics, and what were the main motivations behind the lyrics to your recent full-length?
Real-life experiences, man. Heartbreak. Heartbreak and hope.
Who’s the woman singing on “Angels”? How did she end up on the track?
Her name is Lish. She actually had only been in America 10 days when we brought her into the studio. She actually just married Justin. She and Justin had been dating for a couple years. He said, “My fiancee can sing,” and at that point, I was like, “Let’s see what she can do.” I knew that I wanted to bring in a female voice for the song – not comparing it to “Broken” by Seether or anything like that, but it’s in the same vein. So Justin brought her in to do backing vocals during pre-production, and after getting to hear her sing I was like, “I want to see her do the entire second verse and see what we can do with it.” That’s how it came out. It stuck. I would like to think it was a perfect addition to the album. It just turned out really good.
I can sense influence from many other rock bands. Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Staind, Alan Jackson, and a lot of country. I love country. Country songs. I love rock. We never set out to write a specific genre of music. There are certain songs I’m sure where I could tell what I was listening to at the time. Just things like that, man. I have a lot of ’90s alternative influences also: Bush, Gin Blossoms, Screaming Trees. It’s hard not to be influenced by things like that, but it’s also hard to not try and replicate something that’s already been done. So, however it comes out, it comes out. But Ben Burnley [vocalist, Breaking Benjamin], the way that guy conveys his conviction, and the feeling I get when I hear their songs and see people like them live is the same thing I want to give back to people – something more.
What are your goals for the next year, now considering that you have a full-length album under your belt?
Goals for the next year? To not go bankrupt (laughs). Obviously, we want to see the album do really well. I’d love to get two or three more singles off this album. I’d love to put five or six off of it, but who knows? It’s such a gamble these days. Touring’s not going to slow down. We’ll definitely be on tour. We’ve got a couple huge festivals lined up for next year. You’ll see a lot more of us in the next year – a lot more of the bigger national festivals. You’ll know what they are, as there’s only a handful of them (laughs). Hopefully we can build an even bigger fan base. Everybody who is a fan of ours becomes a personal friend of ours. On social media, people message me – Facebook me, e-mail me, text me, call me. We try to stay as reachable as possible. Our goal is to keep doing what we do, making sure we’re super friendly to everybody, and at the end of the day, just being happy and staying true to ourselves.