Fresh off the heels of tours with big-name acts like Green Day, Bad Religion and the English Beat, The Interrupters are ready to continue their takeover of the ska-punk world with their new album, Fight the Good Fight.
The 12-track disc, out on June 29 via Hellcat/Epitaph Records, is the Los Angeles-bred band’s third full-length, filled with tunes that effortlessly blend genres like punk, ska and reggae. The result is a noteworthy follow-up to The Interrupters’ debut self-titled record in 2014 and 2016’s Say It Out Loud.
Old-school fans of the band will appreciate appearances by not only Tim Armstrong — who regularly performs and produces the band— but from all of Rancid as well on one of the album’s stand-out tracks, “Got Each Other.” Songs like “Gave You Everything” and “Room With a View” offer a softer, more emotional side to the band while tracks like “Title Holder” and “She’s Kerosene” pack the punch that the quartet has become largely loved for.
Vocalist Aimee Interrupter and guitarist Kevin Bivona recently discussed the recording process and what this album means for the band, which is rounded out by Bivona’s twin brothers, Justin (bass) and Jesse (drums).
OC Weekly: How would you compare this new album to your past two albums?
Aimee Interrupter: This album was recorded to tape, so there’s that. That’s something different than we’ve done before. I’m really proud of this record. We worked really hard on the lyrics and songwriting. I think, as people and as songwriters, we’re always looking to just get better at our craft and to be the best we can.
Kevin Bivona: This time around we actually wrote 30 to 40 songs and then we went in and picked the best 20 to record. From there, we picked the best 12 we wanted on the album. We wrote a lot of songs. We just wanted to make sure each song could stand on its own, be strong and be something we’re proud of. We’re all super proud of this record. We put so much love into it. We hope that everyone who likes our first two albums likes this one even more.
OC Weekly: How long have you been working on the new album, and can you expand on what the recording process was like this time around?
Bivona: We went into the studio with Tim Armstrong in September in between tours, and we did some pre-production and writing for a few weeks and demoed some stuff out. Then we went on a pretty long tour. We did the entire United States with SWMRS and to South America with Green Day. Right after the New Year, we got back in the studio with Tim and recorded to tape. I think we were in there for three weeks and we didn’t really get the chance to over-think anything.
Interrupter: A lot of the music takes are literally just one take with the bass, drums and guitar all playing at the same time. You really feel the authenticity, rawness and imperfections. I think that’s something I’m most proud of. We went in there and we recorded it kind of like the old-school Motown days.
OC Weekly: Was that intimidating compared to how you would record before?
Bivona: We’ve always tracked live but we always did it in ProTools and we got as many takes as we wanted. The thing that was different this time was a lot of Amy’s scratch vocals ended up being the keeper takes that we used on the record. What you’re hearing is actually all four of us playing together. On “She’s Kerosene” all her vocals were done live to tape with the band. That whole thing is one moment. It adds to the anxiety but it creates excitement.
OC Weekly: Are there any songs on this new album that you’re particularly proud of?
Interrupter: It’s interesting because each one of them is like my baby. We wrote like 30 to 40 songs and ideas. The 12 that we ended up picking for this record are the ones that I felt the most connected to. I’m really truly proud of all of them in different ways and for different reasons. They’re all my truth.
Bivona: I love the first single “She’s Kerosene.” It’s super fun to play live. We’ve been doing these festivals and we’ve thrown that one into the set. Like Aimee said, I love them all for different reasons. I feel like a song like “Gave You Everything” is one I think a lot of people can relate to because it’s more of a first-person relationship with the underlying theme of being empowered to leave. Musically, it’s something we hadn’t really done before. It was more of a straight-forward kind of Ramones-y punk thing. That one was a lot of fun.
OC Weekly: Songs like “Gave You Everything” on this new record and older tunes like “Easy On You” and “Take Back the Power” have these reoccurring themes of self-perseverance and personal strength. Where does that inspiration come from?
Interrupter: I always write about what I’m going through. I’ve always been that kind of a songwriter. In all my songwriting, I’m hoping that if it’s something that can help me get through something, then it can help other people as well. That’s kind of my whole mission. Music saves me and makes me feel comforted and less alone. It gives me that feeling that I can get through hard times. I want to do that for other people to let them know that they’re not alone and that someone understands what they’re going through. I want to give people the same gifts that music has given to me. … There are a lot of themes on this record about overcoming obstacles and about a phoenix rising from the ashes. … We sing a lot about friendship, family and unity. On this record, there is a theme about leaving kind of abusive situations and relationships and becoming stronger because of it and truly fighting the good fight.
OC Weekly: “Got Each Other” was the first time that you recorded with all of Rancid, rather than just Tim. What was that like?
Bivona: That’s another stand-out track for all of us that we’re super excited about. It was awesome getting all those guys to sing on it. We definitely checked that one off the bucket list.
Interrupter: I cried the first time I heard it back with everyone’s voices on there. It was such a beautiful moment and just touched me so much. It really is the embodiment of what it feels like to be making music with your friends.
OC Weekly: It seems like it was like a full-circle kind of moment because Tim has kind of taken you under his wing. Bands like Green Day and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones have also helped you out. What has that been like for you to have veterans in the punk and ska scene just really help you out like that?
Bivona: Whatever the next level is beyond a dream come true, it’s that. The thing I’ve noticed about all those bands you just mentioned is that they’re career bands that have been together for so long. Beyond the great music they make, they’re great people and they treat each other with respect within the band. They treat their fans with such respect. It taught us so much being a young band that if we want to have a career like that, they lead by example.
Interrupter: It’s surreal. They’re our musical heroes. All of those bands are so humble, kind and generous. It’s so nice to know that not only we’ve looked up to them musically but just as people and how they treat everyone around them is such an inspiration. It’s something that we feel is priceless and gives us something to strive for.
OC Weekly: You guys are, in a way, commanding and leading a new generation of ska fans with regular radio play and festival billing. Did you picture that happening?
Bivona: We don’t think of ourselves as leaders of anything. We’re so lucky to be able to do what we love, play with all these bands and have people come to our shows and like our music.
Interrupter: We get a lot of people that say, ‘I don’t like ska, but I like you guys.’
Bivona: That’s a great compliment, but what I would say to someone who says that is, ‘Well, let me make you a mixtape or something because you do like ska.’
Interrupter: We feel super honored to be loved by our favorite two-tone bands. We’ve toured with the English Beat. We’ve done a lot of tours with ska bands and punk bands. We just feel so lucky that the ska community has welcomed us and embraced us, and the punk community has loved us as well. We don’t know what we label ourselves but we’re just so happy to be there.
OC Weekly: What can we expect out of The Interrupters this year and into the future?
Bivona: We will be playing select dates on the Vans Warped Tour. It’s the last Warped Tour, and Kevin Lyman has been so great about just letting us jump on the shows that we could. It’s an honor to even be asked to go on that tour because it’s been such an institution of punk rock and ska music for our entire lives. It’s like the end of an era. To be included in that is a real honor for us. … We’re also going to be announcing some more fall and winter shows that I can’t really say anything about yet.
Interrupter: I love Kevin Lyman. I think he’s just done so much for punk rock. It’s just truly an honor to be invited to the last hurrah. I’m very grateful.
By day, Brittany covers hard-hitting city news in San Diego. By night, she’s prowling the Orange County music scene, and is usually a regular attendee of local ska and punk shows. Reporting and music have always been Brittany’s passions. She wrote for her middle school and high school newspapers and studied journalism at Cal State Long Beach, where she graduated in 2012. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her French Bulldog, watching probably too many Disney movies for someone her age and napping.