Interview: Woke Up Older
Written by Linette Ray
When did the band come together and what’s the meaning behind the band name?
JAKE: Woke Up Older formed pretty organically-- Luke, Scott and I had been in a couple bands together before, and when we wanted to start a new project we recruited my youngest brother, Nick, to play bass, and his doppelganger Sebastian to sing. The name is a reference to an old Wonder Years lyric, “I woke up older carrying two years in the bags under my eyes.” I think Soupy meant that line as a realization of the responsibility and baggage that weighs on us quietly over the years until you hit a breaking point. To us, it’s a reminder to approach life in a way where the responsibilities aren’t so draining.
LUKE: Coming up with a name for the band that all of us agreed with and loved was honestly a more difficult process than songwriting. We probably drafted close to 200 names in the process. After deciding on one and realizing there would be some potential issues with it, Woke Up Older just stuck out to us. For me, there have been some pretty heavy and significant hardships I’ve walked through these past few years. The name holds weight for me as I look back and realize how much I have grown from that young energetic kid I was, both in character and in baggage.
What pushed you to want to get into the music industry? Did you ever have anybody tell you not to do it? Did you ever think about stopping?
JAKE: It’s a great creative outlet for us to talk about things that we think matter in the loudest way possible. We’ve honestly had a lot of support with our musical endeavors (thanks mom and dad) and it’s been so helpful in getting this project off the ground. The only pressure to stop really comes from the time commitment since we have so much else going on in life-- I’m married and teach high school, which pretty much makes me a grandpa in the local scene. Luke is currently off on a mechanical engineering mission in Ethiopia. Nick, Seb, and Scott are currently in school for nursing, architecture, and electrical engineering. It’s a lot to balance, but we aren’t going to stop until there’s nothing left to write about.
SEBBY: I also had a great amount of support to pursue music when I was younger, I remember trying to do trumpet, sometimes harmonica stuff, and singing recitals for my grandparents during family gatherings. I just like the feeling of performing something you work hard to learn or create. The only people who ever really told me that music is a bad idea were really some of my friends who had families who are encouraging them into more “financially stable” fields of work. I would have to agree with Jake though, that the only real pressure is from life, mostly because the band is geographically split, but I feel personally it hasn’t slowed us down too much. I’ll stop when my voice breaks.
If you had to explain the sound of the band in four words, what would they be and why?
JAKE: High energy, loud, honest- We really just want to talk about important, shared experiences and have fun with our music.
LUKE: Your New Favorite Band. Nuff said.
SEBBY: Classic, melancholic, apologetic, riff-tacular. Purely based of the 4 songs we have off the EP. I believe my opinion is subject to change when we finish writing for our album. Mostly because I like the classic late 2000’s pop-punk vibe and I try to emulate that as best I can in my writing. Most of my lyrics focus on what could have been and act as a way to say what I couldn’t/can’t say normally. And riff-tastic because Jake is always grilling up spicy leads.
How did you find the “sound” of the band? Did you always know you wanted to go into the pop-punk direction?
JAKE: I think the pop-punk sound is just something we fell into as we started writing together. Our writing originates in so many different ways for each of us, and I think that keeps us from falling into creative ruts. We end up with a lot of really cool and weird guitar parts that originate with Luke too. He’s not classically trained as a guitarist, so when he writes he’ll bring these wacky guitar parts and chord shapes to the table because of it. Luke and I were huge Avenged Sevenfold fans when we were kids, and we initially tried for a Sevenfold/Dream Theater sound with our first band. It wasn’t really until we fell in love with the lyricism and sound of bands like The Wonder Years and Microwave that we decided to move in this direction. We also really like the DIY spirit of the scene- every part of the recording, mixing, and mastering “Stay Awake” was done in a garage and office space without outside help!
SEBBY: When I started being interested in vocals I wanted to be a deathcore/metalcore vocalist, like Danny Worsnop, Oli Sykes, or Austin Carlisle. But as time went on I became a better clean vocalist and I started trying to write lyrics similar to The Wonder Years and The Story So far and the rest is history in the making.
LUKE: As Jake said, I tend to come to the table with some wonky ideas. While I have continued to grow in my love for the pop-punk scene, I have always tried to find ways that we can incorporate other influences in the music I write. The thought of including blistering guitar solos, or cinematic orchestra, or traditional African percussion, pretty much everything excites me. Figuring out how those wonky ideas fit into a bonafide pop-punk anthem is the hard part. So I presume that moving forward we will have a good number of songs that really marry the more traditional pop-punk sound as well as some stuff that totally pushes the envelope. That’s the kind of stuff that will either find a cult following or fall flat on its face. It’ll be fun to find out either way!
Who is your biggest influence in the industry? Is there anybody or any band you try and style your music after?
JAKE: Definitely Microwave, Trophy Eyes, and The Wonder Years for me. All of these bands have unique ways of capturing really raw, relatable emotions. I think if we could write an album half as good as Much Love, Chemical Miracle, or The Greatest Generation we could retire happy. Everyone tells us we sound like Real Friends though, but that might just be because Sebastian looks exactly like Dan Lambton.
SEBBY: My biggest influence in the industry might be The Story So Far, I just really like pretty much everything they’ve released. Their entire discography is just full of anthemic bangers that really resonate. I do think it’s unfair to choose one because I personally feel like I’m like a pop-punk smoothie; blended together from all the musicians and artists I’ve listened to. I would like to have that upper range Parker Cannon is packing truth be told. And I am well aware people think I look like Dan Lambton. I was at a Real Friends show maybe two months ago and everyone in the crowd around me looked super confused and one girl even asked me what time “are you supposed to go on.” But Dan Lambton is easily a solid 4 or more inches above me, the man is tall as heck.
Okay a fun one: What do you think about the Weezer, Fall Out Boy and Green Day world tour?
JAKE: I’m really just a 13 year old emo kid trapped inside a man's body, so I’m stoked on it. I honestly prefer catching shows at small/mid-sized venues, though, so I’m hoping they’ll put on a secret Gilman show or something before they play Oracle Park.
If you had any advice to someone starting out in the industry or thinking about starting a band, what advice would you give them?
JAKE: Start writing and performing ASAP. Writing music takes practice, and if you’re not doing it your skills are going to atrophy. The best songwriters started off as bad songwriters, so start early and work hard at it. As scary getting on stage can seem, the punk community is really cool and supportive, so getting out and playing or watching shows is the best way to get connected in the local scene.
LUKE: Songwriting. As much as you want to, you can’t get attached to what you bring to the table. When I first started songwriting, my stuff really sucked. Jake can attest. It takes a lot of time to develop, and even to this day, most of the stuff I write will not see the light of day. But I’ve found that if you just keep pumping out songs, you will stumble on a diamond in the rough, or at least come up with one or two fantastic parts in the midst of a sub-par song. The more material you have to work with the easier it is to craft a beautiful end product, but that starts with letting go of your attachment to your song and seeing what the band can create with the raw materials.
SEBBY: There is no one way. I would say that as long as you’re authentic you’ll be fine. My lyrics aren’t 10/10 GOAT status and most don’t even make the cut, and I rarely write melodies with a guitar, but my lyrics come from real experiences and I try to keep them true to life and how I felt. the nice thing about pop-punk is that you don’t really need an amazing voice or be the most talented drummer/guitarist. Be authentic and be tenacious. Just be a few honest people playing the music they love, which is what Woke Up Older aims to be.
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