Aimee Interrupter & Kevin Bivona – The Interrupters ‘Forgiveness, Strength, and Slaying Dragons’

If you’ve been paying attention to the punk scene at all you’d know that The Interrupters have been absolutely crushing it for some time now. They’ve had hit songs, major tours, and even showed up in the soundtrack of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy. On the eve of the release of their 4th album last week, we had a chat with Aimee Interrupter and guitarist (and first-time producer) Kevin Bivona to dig into the depths of their new album In The Wild.

How are you? What’s been happening?

KevinGetting ready! We’re going to Europe on Thursday. We played a show last night, so forgive me if my voice is a little hoarse. I may or may not have stayed out till 5am celebrating. Yeah, here we are. We’re just trying to get our ducks in a row. We’re so excited about this album finally coming out. It’s been really fun talking about it and learning the new songs and stuff.

Yeah, I mean, it’s great. I just submitted my review for it and I’ve got to say I love it. It’s a fantastic album. Do you think having the pandemic and the slowing down of touring and all that sort of thing gave you a bit of extra time to spend on it and really focus on the art itself this time around?

Aimee – Absolutely, it gave us a chance for me to do self-reflection and to do a lot of work in myself and the chance to have everything stop and not be distracted by going and doing things. I really just focused on my writing and on my personal growth. I think that having the time to do that really made this album much deeper. It was more therapeutic for me – out of all the albums I’ve ever done – because it was the most personal, the most vulnerable. And I tell my story I did. I had the time to tell my story. 

Kevin – It’s the first album we’ve ever done, where we had no release date – we had no ballpark. No tour booked. Like, we didn’t know our timing. There was no timing. It was just we got in the studio and we started making a record. And it was finished when it was finished, which was really cool.

And yeah, you had it in a home studio. With you producing it. Did that change the way you went about the songwriting process and the recording process itself? 

Kevin – I mean, as far as the recording process, we’ve always recorded everything live in one room. We’ve always worked out the songs as a band live, and then tracked the basics live. I guess the main difference with this was just working off of a schedule, especially when it came to Aimee’s vocals. She would do her vocals for a song when she was feeling the emotion of that song. So it wasn’t like we were scheduling vocal time like ‘hey, tomorrow at 5 pm you’re gonna sing ‘Raised by Wolves’’ It was basically like ‘hey, I’m really feeling like singing Raised by Wolves tonight’ and it could have been 3 in the morning. 

Aimee – And it usually was!

KevinAnd I was like ‘okay, let’s go back there’. And many times we would stay there until the sun came up and it was really cool. Kind of like you know, they say if you want to make art you take all the clocks off the walls kind of thing. The clock was off the wall. There was no clock ticking at all.

Unreal. Yeah. And I definitely thought that the vocal performance on this album was really, really intense and really great. So it sounds like a good process. You’ve worked with Tim Armstrong who, among other things, is one of the best producers in the world (in my opinion), do you think that that affected the way you went about it? Or did you sort of go in with your own process and just sort of start from scratch? 

Aimee – Well, he’s taught us so much

Kevin – Yeah, we’ve made so many records with him and learned so much from him. And we’ve taken so much of that with us. And, you know, he’s always offered such great guidance as a producer, but also as a guy who’s been writing songs and been in bands since he was super young. He knows the dynamic of bands, he knows what it’s like to be in a band making a record. So he’s been on both sides of the glass. And we’ve always taken all of the knowledge that we’ve learned from him. Whether it’s in the studio, or on the road, or anywhere. So with making this record, he was always kind of like that voice in the back of my head when we’d get stuck on something. And also a couple of the tracks that ended up on the album were songs that we had collaborated on with him pre-pandemic. They ended up fitting into the story of the album we were making.

So he’s represented as a co-writer on a couple of those and that was exciting to still have him involved. But also to be able to make a record under the circumstances of being isolated and being locked down. Because nobody knew how long that was going to be. And if we had to wait it out, I’m afraid we wouldn’t have gotten the material that we got, because we kind of struck when the inspiration hit. And once she started going, it was just kind of like, we had to keep up, you know?

Yeah, I can imagine. You know, Aimee, this album was, as you said, a very sort of personal album, and you’ve really dug deep, did you find it kind of cathartic writing about these issues and sort of putting them out there into the world?

Aimee – Yeah, it was. It’s definitely therapeutic and looking at things that I was always afraid of, to look at, like our song ‘In The Mirror’, I say, ‘I’m tired of running, I’m tired of running’, I say it a bunch of times. Yeah. I was just tired of running from everything I was afraid to look at. From really painful things I didn’t want to write about, I didn’t want to deal with, I didn’t want to look at. And in facing all of those things it was very, very, very, very difficult. And in fact, I would say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life – was actually to do the work to look at the things that I was terrified to look at.

I did trauma therapy, EMDR therapy it’s called, during the pandemic, and did TMS therapy for my depression. I did all sorts of writing and spiritual work for forgiving people and forgiving myself. And I just did a lot of that. And it was very, very difficult. But I’m glad that I did because I feel like I am stronger. And I am able to, with peace in my heart, look at things that before would be so triggering that I could never be creative and write about. So I feel victorious in a lot of ways that I slayed a bunch of dragons that have been bothering me for a really long time. And, yeah, it was very therapeutic. And I feel very grateful that I was able to do that. And had the time to do that. And that in just a couple of days the record will belong to everyone who wants it. 

Kevin – That wants it. But even if they don’t want it, they can have it. 

Aimee – So yeah, my story will belong to whoever wants it. And hopefully they can see my story and see their own story in my story. And hopefully, it helps someone in some way. And help hopefully it’s as therapeutic to listen to as it was for me to share it.

I think it will be you know, I’ve always sort of found that the best music tends to be stuff that resonates with you and sort of makes you think a bit and this definitely accomplishes that. Something which really strikes me is that despite being about trauma, and you know ‘childhood trauma’ and that sort of thing, it’s surprisingly upbeat and optimistic. Did that therapy and whatnot help you keep a positive mental attitude? Because the music is righteous. It’s not sort of dwelling in the past, it’s almost celebrating what you became in spite of all of that. 

Aimee – Yeah, that the lyric in ‘Raised by Wolves’ is, ‘my teeth got sharper, and my skin got tough. So I forgive you for giving up’. And then the song, ‘Kiss the Ground’ is ‘sometimes when you’re low, you gotta kiss the ground’. It’s about coming out the other side and actually finding the good from the bad. Feeling victorious. Feeling like the light wins over the darkness. And it just…. it’s an acknowledgement of where you came from but look how strong you’ve been… in appreciation. Like, yeah, I’ve been through some stuff, but it made me stronger. So you know what, I can find some forgiveness there and some like grace, and I can find some healing there. And I don’t know, I think that it is a celebration of that and it does feel very victorious, because it was a serious battle. To get to that place where I felt strong. It was like, I didn’t lay down and die. And I think that’s the theme of the record. You know? 

Wilding Out with The Interrupters

Yeah, that’s really cool. And it’s one of the great things about listening to it. Because obviously when you’re reviewing an album, you listen to it over and over, and you try and put it on in the background and everywhere just try and get a real feel for it. And I found that it’s got this great drive behind it that I really dig. Yeah, that type of triumphant and fun sound. And I do think it’s kind of like a classic Interrupters sound to a degree. But also, when you’re dealing with topics like these, it’s great that an album can still lift you up.

Aimee – Thank you. Yeah.

The album deals with family and that sort of thing. And it’s kind of interesting, because The Interrupters is kind of a little bit unique in that it’s very much a family unit. Do you find the band dynamic works a bit different to other bands having the 3 brothers in the band compared to, you know, a lot of other bands?

Kevin – Yes, because I’ve been in other bands. And I’ve travelled with lots of other bands. And I understand that we’re in a unique situation, the fact that we’re married, and we’re all brothers, it’s just kind of… we put a lot of effort into how we communicate with each other. And I feel like we’re at a point now where we get along so well. And we’re all kind of pointed towards the same place and always have the same goals. And we’re always focused on the same thing. And we got each other’s backs. And I’m really grateful to be a part of that. Because when you’re making a record, when you’re going on tour, you want people that are all on the same team. And there’s no one guy going this way, one guy goes… we’re all facing the same direction, and moving forward.

Aimee – And love and respect each other 

Kevin – And love and respect for each other. And that’s it. And that’s a beautiful thing. 

Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s a great story, so to speak. It’s just really wholesome and nice.

Kevin – It is kinda wholesome. We made a spaghetti dinner the other night at the twins’ house and that was very wholesome.

Awesome. Oh, I was gonna ask, you guys put out a cover of ‘Bad Guy’ in around early 2020? 

Kevin – September 2019.

All right. How did that come about? It’s one of those songs that you know, it’s a great written song to begin with, but works amazingly as a ska song. It just works so well. Was it something you just heard and thought ‘yep, that’s happening’ or…?

Aimee – Yeah, we were on tour, and…

Kevin – It was the biggest song in the world at the time. So like, you heard it everywhere. 

Aimee – I just heard it in my head as an Interrupter song. And I just related to the lyrics, I just felt like ‘I have to sing the song’. I just have to. And so we’re on tour, and we just started playing in our shows. 

Kevin – We never planned on recording it. 

Aimee – It was just supposed to be a fun thing that we did for the summer tour.  Everybody loved it when we did it live and everyone was asking us where they could hear it. But we didn’t record it and we didn’t have time to record it. So we just went into a studio and played it live just like we do on stage. 

Kevin – And that was the version we put out 

Aimee – People thought that what we did was a music video for a recorded song but no, that was all happening at once. We videotaped it and recorded it all at once live. 

That’s unreal. I mean, it’s cool because it puts out a different style of music to punk fans who might have been a bit standoffish about listening to someone like Billie Eilish in the first place because she was a cool songwriter, her and her brother do some cool stuff. But yeah it’s just one of those songs that blew up I guess. I was always curious about how that came about. And recording it live? That’s something else!

Kevin – When her record came out, that first record, we were such huge fans of that record and the music she was making and so much respect for the originality. 

Aimee – And we met them at a radio show. We were doing a show together in San Diego and we went to our dressing room. And she was so sweet. 

Kevin – And they’re family too. So we bonded over the family thing. Her brother’s there. Her mom’s there. And we’re like, ‘oh, we get it’. 

Aimee – Yeah, so we really liked them as people. They were so sweet. And so yeah, we root for them for sure. 

So we are running out of time here. But are you guys coming back to Australia and chance you might come to Perth in the near-ish future. 

Kevin – We really hope so. So on this album, our goal is to go to as many places as possible. 

Aimee – So we’re working on it, and we’re really excited to come and I believe it’s absolutely going to happen. 

Kevin – 100% 

Aimee – 100% 

Kevin – I think I can safely say in 2023, 300% 

Keeen. Looking forward to that!

Interview by Dave Mullins

In The Wild is out now. Grab it here

The Interrupters New Album In The Wild

The Interrupters – In The Wild tracklisting:

1. Anything Was Better
2. As We Live (feat. Tim Armstrong)
3. Raised by Wolves
4. In the Mirror
5. Kiss the Ground
6. Jailbird
7. The Hard Way
8. My Heart
9. Let Em’ Go
10. Worst for Me
11. Burdens (feat. Hepcat)
12. Love Never Dies (feat. The Skints)
13. Afterthought
14. Alien

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