“This is the most personal record I’ve ever done. I didn’t try to sugarcoat anything” - Kellin Quinn talks hmv.com through Sleeping With Sirens’ new album How It Feels To Be Lost
Halfway through the gruelling touring commitments for their fifth studio album Gossip, Kellin Quinn, frontman of Florida post-hardcore fivesome, realised he’d made a mistake.
Initially reluctant to head out on the road, he was burnt out and desperate for downtime. He got through the remaining shows and headed home, fully intending not to make a new record for a good while, maybe never.
At his insistence, and with the support of his bandmates and management, no plans were made to return to the studio. But, that distance and lack of pressure, had a transformative effect. Now off their major label deal and more in control of their schedule, the band reunited, first just to play together and to begin to enjoy their music again, and then, as creative types do, talk moved to a new record.
That album, How It Feels To Be Lost, arrives on shelves today (September 6th) and we spoke to Quinn about how it came together and why he went back into the studio reluctantly...
When did you start working on the songs for How It Feels To Be Lost?
“The only song that was written on the road was ‘Ghost’ and that was the initial soundscape for the record. Jack (Fowler, guitarist) had been sending me ideas and that was the darkest one he had. The Gossip tour was a very dark period for me and so that sound really, really resonated. He sent me more ideas and after we got home for tour we went into the studio and started building the record.”
Did you have a goal of how you wanted to do things differently from what you’ve done in the past?
“Not really. There was no game plan at all. We sat down with Benji and Joel (Madden, Good Charlotte founders and Sleeping With Sirens managers), I wanted to talk things through. I didn’t know if I wanted to do another record, I didn’t feel like I was in the right place for it.”
Why did you decide to do it?
“They told me that if we wanted to do a record, then we needed to move to a place where we were just a band being happy to be playing music in a room together. There didn’t need to be an urgency or a deadline. We didn’t need to go to the studio if it didn’t work. There was no pressure to do it. Then, from there, everything started to unfold towards a record.”
You did the record with Matt Good and Zakk Cervini, what did they bring to the process?
"Matt did four songs, Zack did six. We started with Zack and Matt was something of an afterthought. He was in the studio at the same time as we were with Hollywood Undead and he asked me to do a feature on their record, which I did. Then he had some time and I asked if he would work with me and we wrote ‘Bloodlines’ together. I really liked that and I knew he would bring a sound to the record, a darker sound than Zack was doing, so we brought him in.”
Did you enjoy having more than one producer? That’s the first time you’ve worked that way…
“Here’s the thing, with Zack and Matt both, it was more about having fun and not caring about the end result. Two random producers would have been daunting, but these guys are our friends. We just wanted to make the best record we can. I’d be working on vocals with Matt and Zack would be with the other guys, then we’d move around. There was no ego about any of that.”
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme?
“There’s definitely a theme. This is the most personal record I’ve ever done. I didn’t try to sugarcoat anything. I wrote down how I was feeling. This has been very therapeutic. The theme is me overcoming the darkness and finding a light through my struggle. That's why it’s named how it feels to be lost.”
"Depression and anxiety make you feel lost. The goal of this record was to help people understand that just because you feel like you’re by yourself, you don’t have to be. Lots of people feel the same way. I wanted this record to help people and to give words to people who can’t say how they’re feeling.”
Was that always going to be the title?
“Jack is always pushing for us to do a self-titled record, I don’t know why. Initially, we were going to go with it, but I found it so weird not naming an album. Especially this one, it’s so thematic and I wanted to show that.”
You’ve got Benji Madden on ‘Never Enough’, did you seek him out for it or was he just in the studio with you?
“We had the whole song except for the bridge. We’d written two other songs that day and I was zapped, so I asked him if I had any other ideas. Benji and Joel are pretty unique in the studio, they just go in the vocal booth and freestyle. Sometimes it really works. So he jumped in the booth and started coming out with all this stuff. The take is him figuring it out. It was awesome.”
In terms of what you’ll do live, how is your schedule looking? Is 2020 filling up?
“We’re going to be doing a lot. We want to get out and play this record. We’re hoping to do a bunch of support tours and build this up.”
You’ve got six records now, how will you structure your live set?
“We’re going to be doing a lot of new ones. You know the fans want to hear the old songs and so I think we’ll be tweeting a lot and asking fans for what they want to hear. We’ll rehearse a lot of the songs and we’ll switch it up a lot.”
Sleeping With Sirens’ new album How It Feels To Be Lost is out now in hmv stores.