With their newest album, Treehouse, under their belt, I See Stars has set up all summer long on the Poseidon Stage on the Warped Tour. MEB staff writer Kristyn Shannon was able to grab Brent Allen, one part of a four-piece band, and chat about crazy fans, living in a treehouse, and lyrics as tattoos. Check it out below!
MEB: What’s your favorite song to play in the Warped set?
Brent [Allen]: Probably a new song, “Running With Scissors.” It’s a new song off the album.
Have you performed Warped before?
We’ve done this a couple of times. This is probably our third time now.
What was the craziest fan encounter or story in general from any tour?
We did Indonesia one time and they were like, “You guys can’t meet the fans.” We were like, “Screw that, we want to go meet these kids.” We walk over to the hallway and there are probably 100 or 200 kids and they break through security. They start hugging us and taking six pictures at a time. We were all like, “This is pretty weird.” It’s not quite like a Rated X version of a fan story, it’s more of a mind-blowing sort of experience fan story. Out here, I can just walk around, but I guess we’re cooler over there.
What does it feel like to see fans in the audience singing songs you’ve worked so hard on creating?
It’s obviously amazing to see them singing along because I’m still stuck in this like, we’re a garage band; just being little kids singing songs. From our band, it’s crazy cause, like I said, I still feel like just a local band to some degree, but we’re out here playing for a lot of kids who like what we’re doing. I’m very thankful that it is that way.
I actually really dig the name “I See Stars.” How’d you come to call your band that?
You know, I’ve been asked this question before and I wish so badly that I had this great story and it has this giant meaning, but we were super young at the time – this was probably 2005 when we came up with the name; I’m 25 now, so forever ago. Thankfully, it was able to withstand the test of time and we didn’t have to change it a bunch of times, but we were bouncing back and forth with some other ideas and different names. We kind of blurted out “I See Stars” and everyone was like, “You know what, I dig that. We’ll go with that.”
What was it like to put out an acoustic album last year versus the normal upbeat sounds?
It’s a gamble for the fans. They seem to get offended really easily, like we’re going against what they say. The truth is: we like all different types of music; everything from country to pop to metal to rap to whatever. I very much love the acoustic guitar – we all do – and we love singing and bringing it down. We wanted to be able to bring it to a new environment, maybe appeal to a new audience and kind of give them something. As far as the other fans go, it’s like we’re gonna keep writing records that are heavier and a little more experimental. Those’ll come, so just relax and let us do our thing and if you’re into it, great. If you’re not, sorry, can’t help you.
Were there any anticipations or fears with the new album?
I’d say over the years I’ve developed a sort of callous to the idea that anticipation is irrelevant to me anymore. I feel like you’re only setting yourself up for either failure or to be exceeded or whatever. But, I don’t think so. I didn’t have this crazy idea, I didn’t have a crazy motif. I think we just wrote a record that we all really like and we spent a lot of time on it. We just kinda did what we do and put it out. A lot of fans are taking a liking to it and I guess that’s all I can hope for is that people get into what we’re doing. If they don’t, we’ll just keep writing records and doing what we do.
Eventually they’ll have to like something.
Exactly. Probably something on the acoustic album for you or on the remix album. We do it all. They’ll find something out there.
Was there a reason behind putting more EDM-like synths in Treehouse?
I think that going into this record we really wanted to let our actual influences a little bit more into the record. Using things like EDM elements, it’s easy to be creative and be expansive with the songs themselves and you’re able to create textures that guitars and bass and drums maybe couldn’t create for you. So, it really allows us to be free as artists and create something unique. We’re big fans of that whole movement and we are really intrigued by it. So, I guess that would be the reason that we put more of that stuff in there.
Why did you make “Walking On Gravestones” almost fully instrumental?
For fans out there who have listened to other records, we’ve always had a track on there that’s just a little bit to the left. That song just kind of worked with what it was and we liked the way it made you feel rather than trying to tell a story. We allowed the music to tell the story.
I feel like this album is a lot more meaningful and emotional. What were your thoughts behind this?
I honestly don’t do a ton of the lyric work. I work with a lot of the music and composition and stuff. But, Andrew [Oliver] and Devin [Oliver] do most of the lyric writing and I think that they were feeling some type of way while they were in the studio. Obviously, there’s been some time since our last record, so life experiences and that kind of stuff floats to the surface when you’re writing records. They did a really good job of putting their stories into words that hopefully people can take and use their own way. I think that good song writing and good lyric writing is when people can take it in and use it however they want to take it.
I think that when lyrics are good enough to tattoo on you, those are prime lyrics.
Absolutely. We’ve seen that and that is just mind blowing. We’re going to be with these kids forever and it’s always really cool to see that. People just do that and it’s crazy.
Why Treehouse? What does that title mean?
The idea is that it’s this clubhouse we’ve created for ourselves where we can go and essentially be ourselves. Like, the treehouse for us is just our way of living or something like that. It’s us and now for the fans it’s kind of this open door policy, I guess, where if you like what we’re doing and like the messages we’re putting out there, the treehouse is our group. It’s our team, including the fans and everyone else involved. We’re trying to create this place in your mind, a place to go and I think treehouse kind of puts that in a nutshell, I guess.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Honestly, just check out Treehouse. We put a lot of time and work and effort into making a colorful record and I’d love it if they would check it out. Either hate comment on YouTube or a positive comment. Either way is just fine.