I had the opportunity to interview JT Tollas, vocalist of Famous Last Words this past week. JT talks to us about why they chose Revival over other record labels, what it was like recording their new album, the writing process for new music & more. Check out the interview below!
Let me start off by congratulating you on your signing to Revival Recordings! What about Revival stood out to you guys from all the other record labels?
– Jt: What stood out to us most about Revival is how much they truly care about keeping the art in the music industry. It’s so easy these days to cave into the temptation of “hopping on the bandwagon and playing it safe” in order to stay relevant in this fairly ruthless industry. Famous Last Words has tried to stay away from the norm and keep the art alive in the music, and Revival supports us 100%.
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You guys were recently in the studio with Taylor Larsen to record the new full-length album. How was it working with Taylor?
– Jt: It was a lot of hard work from the band and Taylor and his engineer Pete. We had to be in a certain vibe to really get the sound we wanted because this new album and its concept has a lot of depth lyrically and phonically. All the work was more than worth it though.
What were some of your biggest influences when writing the new album?
– Jt: Well we’ve released information saying that it’s based in the 1950’s. I think a lot of the supernatural and suspenseful elements come from my love of The Twilight Zone. I feel like that has a lot to do with the time period I chose and the type of story I chose to write into the album.
Is the new album going to be a concept album like Two Faced Charade and Council of the Dead?
– Jt: As I stated above, the new album is going to be another concept. For the foreseeable future I think we will be writing concept albums. They are just a lot of fun to write and almost guarantees a different vibe and sound for each album. Plus if you have a really solid storyline and you are able to match the songs to the storyline, you’re almost guaranteed a very fluent album from start to finish.
Do you ever feel that there is a lot of pressure or expectations on you when writing a concept album?
– Jt: Most of the concept ideas just randomly come to me. I’m never sitting down and trying to figure out what the next concept should be. I usually just let my mind wander on long drives and they just pop into my head. Once that happens, I begin to develop it into a full story, and then translate it to an album. Not to say I don’t feel pressure, its just that what usually causes the pressure isn’t thinking of the concept, its getting everything finished on a deadline. When you have a deadline, it’s hard to force a good idea to pop into your head. Luckily I work better under pressure, so it works out!
When you are writing a concept album how do you think of the ideas and stories behind them?
– Jt: They usually just come to me when my mind is wandering off. It might be influenced by something I saw or something that may have happened to me, I’m not 100% sure. This newest album was so surreal how it came to me. It was super late at night and I was watching Family Guy (which literally has nothing to do with the album or the concept behind the album). My girlfriend was fast asleep and out of nowhere it just hit me; the entire album from start to finish. From the first song to the last song I knew what I wanted each song to be about and what kind of vibe I wanted it to give off. I immediately woke my girlfriend up and kind of screamed, “ Quick hand me my phone! I need to write something down in my notes!!!” I don’t think she was too happy with me at the time, but in the end I was able to write it all down without forgetting anything and now we have, what I believe, is the best album we have ever written.
What is something different you have tried with the new album that you haven’t on previous releases?
– Jt: We have kept the album pretty heavy, but in a different way. It’s not so much metalcore anymore, meaning there are significantly less chug breakdowns. Really, I feel like I can confidently say that I’ve never heard another album quite like this one. I also played around with some new rhyming schemes, and character lyric roles.
Last year you released a movie for “Two Faced Charade” which seemed to have a positive reception. Do you anticipate doing anything like that again? Perhaps with Council of the Dead?
– Jt: We actually started writing a script for COTD about a year ago. It’s been a long process, but the script is moving, slowly but surely. I guess we will have to see what happens once we finally get it done.
When the band has some free time from touring etc, what are some things you enjoy doing in your off time?
– Jt: We all have side jobs at home that take up a lot of our time. Personally, I spend most of my time with my Girlfriend, my 6-year-old daughter, and the rest of my family.
Is there a particular TV show that you and the band enjoy watching while on tour?
– Jt: Family Guy, American Dad, Futurama, South Park, The Simpsons, Documentaries, and stand up comedians. All of those get a Famous Last Thumbs up.
Lastly do you have any exciting tours in the works that fans can look forward to?
– Jt: We are in the process of getting our summer touring together for the album release. As soon as we get dates we will be blasting them all over our social media sites, don’t you worry.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions JT! Looking forward to what the future holds for Famous Last Words!
You can listen to the band’s latest acoustic song from Revival Recordings acoustic compilation, ‘It’s All Acoustic’ below:
Get your copy of It’s All Acoustic TODAY http://goo.gl/zztcuk Distributed by Sony Red / Artery revivalrecordings.merchnow.com www.revivalrecs.com * I’ll Be Home Soon * And I know You’re far away from here Just close your eyes And dream tonight That I’m right by your side Count down the days Until I play my last show Cause then you’ll know, I’ll hit the road And I’ll be coming home May sound cliche But there’s no other way to say When the thought of you runs through my mind Words to describe are hard to find.