Written By: TIFFANY MITCHELL
Dangerkids may not have decades of music behind them, but you would think so after seeing them on stage. I was really excited and honored to sit down with guitarist Alex Asch and drummer Katie Cole at a coffee shop across the street from the venue. It was like chatting it up with a few friends because these two were just so chill. We talked about their new album Blacklist, the writing process behind it, and being on tour.
Shockwave Magazine: Hey, this is Tiffany with Shockwave Magazine, and I have Dangerkids with me. Introduce yourselves please?
Alex Asch: Hi, my name is Alex Asch and I play guitar for Dangerkids.
Katie Cole: I’m Katie, and I play the drums.
So the first obvious question. Katie, being in an all boy band, and I’m sure you get this question all the time, how did you guys hook up? Did you know each other before?
Katie: Yeah, it’s like a crazy long story how we all know each other. Basically, the way I know everyone: Jake, our bassist, me and him were in a band before this band and it broke up. While we were a band I met Tyler, because Tyler recorded for Jake’s old band. I just met him like a couple of times and he was starting Dangerkids. He made like one song you know, and he was like, “Do you guys want to join?” I said, “Both of us,” so we joined, and then Andy was already in it, and that’s how I met him. Then we went through some guitarists, but we all knew Alex.
Alex: Yeah, that’s how it started for me but, Tyler recorded all my old band’s stuff, and it just came time, I guess.
Were you already in a band?
Alex: It was transitional. I’ve never been in a better band. I’m sorry for that, but I’m being honest.
So you guys have been a band for … it’s been how many years about?
Katie: Almost five years.
Alex: Yeah, we started like 2012.
Katie: Yeah, which doesn’t feel like five years at all, it’s weird.
Collapse was your first album right?
And that did really well.
Katie: Yeah, it was great and that really helped us a lot.
Alex: Yeah, and Blacklist came out this Friday, and we are so proud of that. That record means everything to everyone in the band. We spent a long time with it and waited a long time for it to come out, and it came out the right way. We couldn’t be happier with it. It’s amazing.
So I know a lot of people associate Dangerkids with a certain sound, you know the Linkin Park thing. I know a lot of bands don’t like when other people write reviews or hear in an interview, “”Oh, your that band that sounds like blah, blah, blah. You’re Dangerkids; you want people to think Dangerkids when they hear your music.
Alex: I think the right answer to that question is, I think initially because of the respect that we have for Linkin Park, like obviously, in the first record we say their name in the song. We’re showing our respect. But I think traditionally through the years, I believe that the core sound is still there, obviously. When you listen to it, it’s still Dangerkids.
Katie: So yeah, I mean we all got that so much starting out, that Linkin Park thing, and everyone loves that band.
Yeah, it’s not a bad band to be compared to, right?
Katie: And there are lots of bands now I think, that are doing the rap and rock thing.
Yeah, like From Ashes To New.
Katie: But when we started, there weren’t really. So we were the only band to compare us to. So I get it.
Alex: Yeah, I feel like, we are really thankful, and we are doing things the right way. I mean like trying to put out the best things we can, you know.
Before Dangerkids, what did you see yourselves doing? Like, what would you have been doing if not in a band?
Katie: That is so hard. I remember when I was younger I did YouTube drum covers and I wanted to be in a band, but I was really young, like 11 or 12. I did that, and that’s how I ended up in bands. They found me on YouTube. I didn’t know any musicians because I grew up in a small town and stuff, and I just like dreamed of playing shows. So yeah, I don’t know what else I would have done then. I had a lot of safe career choices I guess. I went to college for a little bit, so I just went for music. I can’t even think of what else I would have been doing.
Alex: I would have never done anything else.
So you knew what you wanted to do.
Alex: I decided as a kid, and it’s all I ever cared about. I’ve never said this on a recording, so I’ll be honest, you know, why not. I’m always honest but, I’ll be open. I guess from a kid, I never cared about anything else besides guitar. When I picked it up and felt it for the first time, I knew I was supposed to do that. So I just always played it. I would sit in my room for like nine hours a day, for years, from the time that I was maybe 11 to the time that I was 20. I was conformed to learning how music works, how they sound together, how it operates and sounds to other people. I’m blessed to have a great support system. I never had a Plan B. I never will. What we do, and being out here, this is my life. This is our lives. It’s beautiful, and I would have never done anything else.
Katie: It’s scary too. I remember especially, going to college was my deciding point. Because I wasn’t in a band at the time, I was always so scared to pursue drums or the band thing. But I finally got past that point, when I was like, I just love this so much. I just had to take the risk, and take that career path. It’s the happiest time for me, when I’m doing that, so why wouldn’t I do that? Why would you settle for something else just because it’s safe.
Alex: I’ve been saying to a lot of people, people come up and ask, and you want to share with them the best knowledge you can, at least I do. I don’t think anybody would be able to get to do anything, and it doesn’t matter if it’s music or sports or art, that the belief has to be there. If you don’t believe in what you do, one million percent, then no one else in the room is going to believe that. The energy has to be there, everything has to be right. That’s what’s most important, and I don’t think everybody feels that way. I just think we are really blessed that the record is out.
Katie: Cool stuff.
So it’s pretty overwhelming.
Katie: Yeah, since we haven’t toured since May and we sat at home for months.
What do you do during that time?
Katie: I bartend when I’m at home. Just like very normal boring lives, so to come out and have all this stuff happen is so cool.
Did all of you contribute to writing Blacklist? Is it all your stories and feelings?
Katie: Lyrically and everything it’s Andy and Tyler. Tyler produced it. But we all contributed and wrote stuff too.
Alex: The writing process for Blacklist, I feel like ah, it was a beautiful process. It took a long time and we spent a long time with it. I remember driving four days a week for nine or 10 months, and me and Tyler were grinding at it, just writing the music part of it. Then he would spin beats with Andy. But everything was written as a whole, and the energy, it’s weird when you write a record, because I feel like, the energy in the room with everyone there, it could change completely how it turns out. You know what I mean? It’s like the energy is everything. So if somebody is off in the room, it may not work.
Katie: Everyone has different vibes.
“Invincible Summer” is my favorite song. It’s beautiful, and Blacklist is on my top ten already for 2017 of my most favorite albums. There isn’t one song on there that isn’t just as great as the other.
Alex: Thank you so much.
Katie: Thank you so much. That is one of my favorite things too, like as far as feedback has been so far. On Twitter people tweet their favorite songs. Everyone has a different favorite song. It’s not like we all love this song. Everyone is posting different songs. So that’s really cool.
Alex: My favorite two songs on the record, to be honest, I love “Crawl Your Way Out.” There’s a story to why I love that song. It’s long. I mean I could share it but, I mean, I remember when I heard the first part of it. I was in Venice and I was eating or something, and I walked outside and kept listening to it and listening to it. Tyler called me and said I wrote this beginning, and it reminds me of uh, well it’s kind of weird, because it’s kind of like the music we are playing now but, I feel like it’s a European song. You know what I mean? Like the parts, the way it sounds, it’s some of my favorite music in the world. I love that influence. You know what I mean. And I always envision that I guess. But yeah, that song is beautiful to me. And “Invincible Summer” as well.
Katie: Yeah, I know when they said they were doing a ballad, I was like what?
Alex: That song is everything to me, I love that fucking song. Love it.
It’s hard for ballads, you know, like in your genre.
Katie: Rock, yeah.
Alex: I know we talked about it for a long time and we were just like, why not you know? It’s beautiful. It just happened. It was cool. Because I don’t think it was the initial plan of writing the record to include a ballad. So to end up with something like that is very special.
The album is so diverse. There’s a lyric, a sound for every thing, situation, and emotion. It gave me goosebumps.
Katie: Ah, that is so cool.
Alex: Thank you, seriously. All of the sounds, I think like, the best way to think about it is, there’s so much to go into creating one piece, and Tyler is the master at it. He’s the best there is. All those sounds and those layers and stuff is why it sounds the way it does. I feel special to be in a situation that has that.
So what are you guys doing after this tour?
Katie: We haven’t even planned yet, but we will. We are supposed to be doing something.
Alex: We’ll be doing a lot I’m sure. I’m just excited to see, I think everyone is, what happens. That’s always the fun part.
Katie: We have a lot of cool stuff planned that we’ve already done that will be released.
Alex: I feel like it’s been real sincere and productive. I don’t know, I love seeing it bloom. It’s crazy. It’s cool.
You guys have plans to do Warped this year?
Katie: Not that we know of. We could be on Warped.
That would be awesome.
Katie: That would be awesome, I love Warped Tour.
You did it last year?
Katie: We did a few years ago.
Oh yeah, it was 2014.
Katie: We did half of it, actually the first half. But that was one of my favorite tours ever. It’s so much work.
Was it a different reception then, than it is now?
Katie: Yeah definitely. Another thing I love about Warped is there are so many people walking by that are hearing your music, and if they like you, they stop and go, oh cool. Just seeing people stop is really cool. Everyday was so wild, and you play at different times too, so you get to see how that works.
Alex: Yeah, I love that tour very much. That was my first tour with the band. That tour is very different than any other tour. It’s a lot of hard work.
Katie: It’s very exhausting.
Alex: But everybody should do it.
Katie: Like if you can do that, you can do anything.
Alex: It’s an amazing time, it truly is. It’s so much fun. It’s just so well put together and organized, and everybody does their job. It’s perfect. But yeah, we’ll see what happens, you know.
I’m excited to see what’s coming.
Alex: Absolutely yeah.
Where you guys going after tonight?
Alex: We have a day off and then Boston.
Katie: We’re going get a hotel and hang out.
Alex: It’s crazy, because were about half way through this actually. I think it will be nice tomorrow to just relax a bit, you know for a day. But traditionally I haven’t had a lot of days off you know. You feel like they go slow.
Katie: It gives you time to get your other stuff done.
Alex: We have a lot in a row coming up after. We have like four in a row and then four or five more.
It’s a great bill.
Katie: Yeah, every aspect of the bands are really cool, and the fans, and their huge shows and the crews are on top of everything, you know.
Alex: I feel like every band is like, I love watching the other bands, because I think they are truly like resilient musicians. Everything that everybody does is so good. It just flows and it feels good, and it’s just cool.
So where can people find out what’s going on with you guys? Where can people buy Blacklist and stuff like that?
Katie: Blacklist is out now.
Alex: Blacklist is everywhere.
Katie: It’s on iTunes. It’s on Spotify,
Katie: YouTube, and you can come see us on tour right now. Here on tour, we are selling it, and you can buy a physical copy.
Alex: Yeah, it’s like in any of the usual places.
Katie: Check out our album, and come see us on tour and it will be awesome.
Alex: Bring friends, bring everybody.
Thank you so much guys, you guys are awesome. See you back inside.
So if you haven’t had the chance to check out Dangerkids, you’re in for a surprise. They have broken the mold of traditional genre-specific music. They push the boundaries, and the fans are eating it up. I am a huge fan of Dangerkids myself, and their new album Blacklist, came out about a week ago and already tearing shit up and taking over. I’m not just saying this because I like them. Check them out for yourselves. You’ll see what I’m saying. You’re welcome.