Track by track interview with JT Tollas of FAMOUS LAST WORDS, digging deep into new EP ARIZONA.
“I like to believe that even in the darkest situations, there is always a little light at the end of the tunnel.”
JT Tollas, Famous Last Words.
SICK AND SOUND presents to its readers an interview our editor-in-chief Alex had with JT TOLLAS of FAMOUS LAST WORDS rising post-hardcore/metalcore outfit hailing from Petoskey, Michigan. Formerly known as A Walking Memory, the band formed in 2010 and consists of: vocalist Jeremy “JT” Tollas, guitarist Evan Foley, bassist Tyler Myklebust and drummer Cody Paige.
Having released three studio albums: Two-Faced Charade, Council of the Dead, The Incubus and three EPs: You Could Have Made This Easier EP (as A Walking Memory), In Your Face EP and Pick Your Poison EP, the band is set to release their new EP called ARIZONA on May 17th 2019 via SBG Records.
Famous Last Words are known for their concept albums, reflecting lyrical themes of life, death, love and hope and recalling in the name, the concept of the final words articulated by an individual who is about to pass away. After a few years of internal turmoil, Famous Last Words are making their comeback with 5 new songs under the name of Arizona EP, produced by founding From First To Last guitarist/vocalist and producer Matt Good who has been working with Asking Alexandria, Memphis May Fire and Veil of Maya. With a new focus and a regenerated spirit, the band has created an EP turning the spotlight on themselves, with stories focused on the experiences they have been personally living.
“Arizona is the result of us, as a band, living through and emerging from a really dark place. At the end of 2017, we weren’t sure what the future of FLW looked like. Or if there even was a future. We decided to channel all of that emotion and anger into the music you hear on this EP. The decision to abandon the concept format for this project was no accident. We had pain, anger, and emotion that we wanted our fans to understand were not anchored around a fictional character. These songs tell the stories of the things we were dealing with.” – JT
- Hello JT and welcome at SICK AND SOUND. Let’s briefly introduce the journey and influences leading you across the journey from A Walking Memory to Famous Last Words.
JT: From the beginning I was always very inspired by musical theatre. Our first full length “Two-Faced Charade” was actually heavily inspired by Phantom Of The Opera. I believe a lot of those story telling elements have carried through my career and most of the music I write to this day.
- Famous Last Words are known for their concept albums and meaningful lyrical themes. So what concepts are important for you to discuss when writing new music and what messages do you wish to spread with it?
JT: When writing the concept albums, I’ve always tried to gain some perspective on my characters situations. It’s all about trying to mentally put myself into someone else’s shoes so I can understand them and their problems more. I’ve always been interested in darker themes. I like to believe that even in the darkest situations, there is always a little light at the end of the tunnel.
- What elements make your sound unique in the post-hardcore metal contaminated scenario?
JT: I think my vocal melodies are pretty unique. The conceptual themes we’ve done in the past really stand us out from the rest too. I also think placing us into just the “post-hardcore” genre isn’t necessarily correct. Personally, I think we’ve had so many different kinds of songs over the years with so many elements of different genres, it’s kind of hard to say exactly what we are.
- On May 17th, 2019 you are dropping your new EP called ARIZONA. You are making your comeback in sparkling fashion and a new regenerated spirit by focusing on your own personal experiences. We’ll shortly discuss the tracks one by one, but firstly I would love a general overview on what was different in terms of writing for this album as opposed to your earlier materials?
JT: Everything was different. There was no pre thought out and researched story. No development at all really until we were all in the studio together. We usually show up with everything written and ready to go, but with Arizona, we just showed up, looked inside of ourselves, and recorded whatever came out. It was such a refreshing feeling.
- So let’s discuss the stories, inspirations or disclosing any specific details behind ARIZONA EP starting from its opening track RUNAWAYS.
JT: Runaways is all about having these really close connections with someone, but inevitably you end up growing apart. No matter how badly you don’t want to.
- THE GAME.
JT: The Game is about my personal struggle with living the band life, and the home/ family life. It’s about feeling torn between the things you love most.
- BROKEN GLASS.
JT: Broken Glass is the story of fighting an uphill battle. Sometimes it feels like 1 step forward and two steps back.
JT: Scream is about living in the moment and letting it all out. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our stress is to scream as loud as you can, and let it out.
- NO WALLS.
JT: No Walls is about that familiar feeling of not knowing your purpose. The struggle to find the meaning in your life.
- What else can we expect in 2019 from Famous Last Words in terms of upcoming shows, festivals?
JT: We will definitely be touring more this year. And we also might be hitting the studio again soon!
Thank you for having a chat with us, it’s been a pleasure, and all the best for your amazing EP. We are keeping an eye on Famous Last Words and fully supporting you into Europe and US!
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