In the early to mid 2000s, The Starting Line were one of the biggest pop punk bands around after they released one of the most iconic albums in the genre, 2002's "Say It Like You Mean It." After going on hiatus in 2008 and returning to play various shows from 2009 to 2015, the band is ready to release new music to the world. Guitarist Matt Watts spoke to the International Business Times about making new Starting Line music for the first time in eight years and what fans can expect when they release their new EP, "Anyways."
Watts calls "Anyways" an evolution for the band and said there's "aggressive" parts to it. He believes if fans enjoyed the band's last studio release, "Direction," that they will likely be drawn to "Anyways."
"It’s definitely more aggressive than some of the stuff we’ve done before, but it’s definitely The Starting Line," Watts explained to IBT. "It sounds like what The Starting Line should sound like in 2016."
Even though the band went on hiatus in 2008, Watts said The Starting Line — Watts, lead singer Kenny Vasoli, guitarist Mike Golla, drummer Tom Gryskiewicz and keyboardist Brian Schmutz — never lost their chemistry. They have continued to play an annual holiday show and even did a reunion for the 10 year anniversary of "Say It Like You Mean It." Recently the band started to feel an "itch" to once again head into the studio to get out three new tracks to fans.
"We just wanted to work on some new Starting Line music and hear what those songs would sound like based on what our influences had become over the time that we had been on hiatus, especially with all the music Kenny [Vasoli] had been consuming, we were really excited to see how those ideas took shape with that spin on it," Watts said.
When the band headed back into the studio they got one of the most popular producers in the scene right now, Will Yip, to produce the EP. Yip has worked on many albums The Startling Line like and he produced albums for bands like The Wonder Years, Man Overboard, Title Fight, Circa Survive and I Am The Avalanche. Watts said it was as if the group "never skipped a beat" when they were recording.
"It was probably the lowest stress and low pressure recording situation I think we’ve ever been in," Watts said. "It felt more like a laid back band rehearsal and sort of a good time than a ‘hey, we need to craft a single for a major label’ type time."
"Anyways" will feature three new songs called "Anyways," "Quitter" and "Luck." Watts believes the band is still the same, but now they are more evolved.
"The biggest thing we wanted to accomplish was that we didn’t want to rehash old Starting Line material, I don’t think there’s a reason to do so," Watts revealed. "We wanted to continue to push our sound forward as well as the genre that we’re a part of, we wanted to add our fingerprint to that as well and I think we were able to do that with these three songs."
According to Watts , the band had a good time making "Anyways," but right now he's not sure if there will more new Starting Line music in the future. However, he did say that the possibility is there, but the band wants to see how things go.
"It’s never something that would be a full time sort of thing, we all have lives right now and professional careers whether it’s in touring bands or office jobs. But I think we would love to keep the door open to create new music, whether it’s a new 7 inch or new EP or something even more elaborate down the line," Watts revealed.
The band will be playing Slam Dunk Festival in the U.K. this May. Other than that show, Watts said the band doesn't have any other concrete dates at this time. However, there will definitely be more shows "here and there" this year.
While the band may not look to rehash their old albums, Watts said The Starting Line still enjoys playing songs off of their old albums, like "Best of Me." Because they only play shows a couple times each year, the guitarist said it's "the coolest experience" in the world and is almost like getting on stage for the first time.
Watts also said it's "incredible" to see how "Say It Like You Mean It" has gone on to inspire so many people and today's bands in the genre. He said the band first formed to play one show together, but it quickly grew to be much more.
"I don’t even know if I can wrap my head around the fact that we inspired bands similar to what Saves the Day and Jimmy Eat World did to us in terms of inspiration," Watts said. "It’s a true gift to see bands that I don’t know if we were a direct influence, but bands like All Time Low, carrying that torch and doing some incredible things as well. It makes us really happy to be part of a scene like that."
The Starting Line's new EP "Anyways" is available Feb. 19. You can pre-order the album here.