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Matt Thiessen and Matt Hoopes of Relient K

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    Lead singer Matt Thiessen and guitarist Matt Hoopes chat on a wide array of topics, including the band’s fresh new album Air for Free, redefining Relient K at this point in their career, and what the future holds.

    So are you still basking in the Cavaliers title glow?

    Matt Thiessen: It’s been weird. I don’t know. How do you embrace it? It’s almost one of those things where now that you have it, you’re like, “What do I do with all this happiness that I have?” Yeah, it’s good, but kind of chill.

    Matt Hoopes: I was so nervous watching Game 7. It was such a joy in my heart, that moment. It’s been amazing, yeah. We’re really, really, really happy for them.

    Since you wrote the Browns a song with “Mrs. Hippopotamuses,’” is there going to be a Cavs song next?

    Thiessen: There actually are some old Cavs songs I put on my MySpace a long time ago when MySpace was a thing. I saw some people tweeting lyrics from one of the songs the other day, and I thought it was funny that it was still somehow out there. I don’t know. I might be done with sports songs for a little bit. I actually have a song called “Sports,” but it doesn’t mention any teams.

    I bet you’re glad you’re not in Ohio this week with the RNC Convention in Cleveland.

    Hoopes: Yeah, my parents were watching and felt pretty fearful for a national tragedy.

    Thiessen: Oh, wow. Yeah, we’ll see what happens. The hotel rooms are all booked up around where we’re from. My wife’s dad was trying to get a hotel in Akron, and he’s like, “Is Jesus Christ himself coming to Akron? What’s going on?” Then we’re like, “Oh, it’s the Convention. It’s just Donald Trump.” Oh my goodness.

    So I think this new record is the most eclectic one you’ve done. It’s got the quirky songs, the love songs, the spiritual songs, the emotionally heavy hitting songs, and somehow you’re able to make that come together to encompass all the different faucets Relient K has been over the years. What was that like, just pulling everything together and making it gel like that?

    Thiessen: I didn’t really do it on purpose. We spent a long time working on the record, so I guess a lot of different songs came out. To that end, I felt like they all grouped together to go on this thing. That’s cool that you think they all work together like that. That’s nice.

    Hoopes: I actually agree with you, Jonathan. It feels like a lot of the songs really do make sense in context. There are these three and four song pockets of the record that seem to make sense, but then for a lot of them it oddly does make sense as a whole somehow someway. That was mainly not as thought out as one would guess, but we’re happy with how it came together.

    It was funny. Someone today I saw on Twitter was asking about our song “Runnin’” on the new record, which kind of has a piece from the “Deathbed” song. He was like, “Was that coincidence that these are both track 14?” I was like, “Oh man, we didn’t even plan on that.”

    Then he also said something about another song being connected to “Sahara” off of our Forget and Not Slow Down record. It was a funny interaction. I was like, I wish it was that thought out. But no, it just kind of happened. We’re just proud of it.

    The last record, Collapsible Lung, got more of a mixed reaction from the fans, and then in between this record and that record you also did the Mmhmm 10th anniversary tour, which is probably regarded as your most successful and best record. Did either of those two events have any bearing on where you decided to go with this record?

    Thiessen: Sure. I feel like we’ve been following a pretty safe path ever since releasing the Collapsible Lung record. The 10th anniversary tour was really fun to do, and making an album was obviously the next step after releasing the last one. We took a little while to do it. I don’t know if that helped separate the last album from this album, taking some time.

    Hoopes: I think everything you do as a person creates a path that you end up on and where you end up at. Especially as a band and as the scope of our career goes, yeah, I think both those things are the reason we’re here where we’re at today. It’s the reason why our album sounds the way it does.

    Collapsible Lung was an interesting time, too. It does seem like a lot of our fans, even from the initial scowling toward it, have really warmed up to it overall. Like, “Oh, there are actually some pretty good songs on there. I maybe was too quick to be angry about this.”

    Thiessen: We were going for that with the whole album. We wanted to upset people and surprise people, try hard in some places and really not try at all in other places, and let other people take the wheel just to see what that would turn into. It was an experiment. I like it. I try not to talk poorly about it, but we definitely wanted to make a different record this time around.

    With Relient K being just the two of you now, has that changed a lot with the way the band operates?

    Thiessen: Not really.

    Hoopes: It’s kind of been the underlying story of the last three years.

    Thiessen: Even longer than that, I would say.

    Hoopes: We finally decided to make that part of the story. We’re back. We’re doing this. We’re excited about this project and also about the band, and the band is now Matt and Matt plus whatever friends we have. We’ve got some good friends, so it’s been good.

    I know you worked with Mark Lee Townsend again on this record. What was that like, hooking back up with him? Did you guys bring in any of those other good friends you were talking about to help out with any of this stuff?

    Thiessen: Yeah, for sure. Our old drummer, Dave Douglas, came down to Nashville and played on maybe half the songs. I don’t have a count in my head right now. Then our friend Tom Breyfogle, who lives here in Nashville and has a band called Birds in the Airport, he’s actually been playing bass live with us. He plays drums on the other half of the record. Then Mark Lee Townsend was basically the bass player in the band.

    That was from the get-go of forming these songs, and that was a really fun experience. Mark’s never been in the band before. This was the first time it felt like there wasn’t someone he was kicking out to step in and have a role, and that changed everything. Mark’s a Beatles nut, so you’re going to hear Beatles-esque basslines throughout Relient K stuff, which is pretty fun for me to be able to experience that.

    This record seems to be your most heavily piano-based, or at least certainly up there. Was that a big part of the songwriting for you?

    Thiessen: Yeah. We tried to do a guitar heavy, up-tempo rock record at the beginning of the process. It didn’t feel right, so we abandoned the idea, and we have some cool songs left in the chest for the future.

    I just banged out a lot of these songs on the piano at my house, showed them to Hoopes, and then we proceeded with the record when there was enough of them. So yes, it was piano, and just chilling and finding free time to do stuff, which was weird because I didn’t have to finish at any time. I could take my time on certain songs.

    I really dragged my feet on a lot of it, but that was a fun thing for me to be able to exercise, being at home and writing the record whenever I wanted to. At the end of the whole thing, I had some people looking me in the eye and saying, “Matt, it’s time to finish your album already.” That went on for a couple months before it was done. So I apologize for taking too long, but it was fun to do.

    Hoopes: I feel like this album should be released now. It does feel like the summertime. It does feel like this is the right time. It’s allowed us a minute to step back and make this thing that is Relient K that we started in high school, to grab it by the horns again.

    Thiessen: By the udders.

    Hoopes: Yeah, by the udders. To take a step back and make this want we want, you know? Tour the way we want to tour and make albums the way we want to make albums. I think that was a lot of fun.

    It’s funny. I was describing this album to a friend earlier today. I keep saying it’s like piano-based rock music with surf guitars [laughs]. I don’t know exactly how to say that, but I definitely approached the guitar from a different perspective because I liked where the piano was at. I wanted to keep the piano and still focus on that, but approach guitars not from we need a wall of 17 guitar tracks as much as how can we make this song better, you know?

    It does feel like a summer record because there are a lot of outdoorsy references, and a lot of animal references as well. Was there a theme you were going for with all those?

    Thiessen: It became easier to do, I guess, as it went along. The idea of having a cat, I didn’t have a cat and I wanted to write about the cat, so it was good. That made into referring to a cat in a couple other songs, and even having a song called “Cat.” So really the cat showed up in the ukulele song “Sleepin’” and then he got to be on the rest of the record, because that song was early.

    I do like animals. I’ve been feeding birds a lot lately, figuring out which kinds they are and what they sing about. All that stuff. That’s fun. I’ve been writing a lot of solo songs that are all about the woods and nature and that sort of thing. It’s something that’s appealing to me in music.

    Is that how you arrived at the concept and title of Air for Free?

    Thiessen: Actually, that was a bit of a weird thing. You know that Goo Goo Dolls song where he’s like, “Do you wanna get married?” Do you remember that one? What song is that one?

    Hoopes: “Slide.”

    Thiessen: “Slide.” So I had this song and I was singing along. I was like [singing], “Marry me.” It was so cheesy, and then I thought of that Goo Goo Dolls song. I thought I would try and rhyme the words and come up with something different. So “Air for Free” came out of that.

    The song took shape out of other ideas, too. Like, the second verse had to do more with “Air for Free” than the first verse did, because “Air for Free” didn’t exist when the first verse was written. It was fun.

    The first song you released from this project was “Look on Up,” which ended up not making the final cut of the album. What was it like deciding to keep that song off?

    Thiessen: I think originally when we released it, the idea was not to put it on the record. Then I think we may have thought it would be on the record, and then we ended up deciding to not put it on the record.

    Hoopes: Yeah, it was a very haphazard decision. There was a lot of back and forth about it.

    Thiessen: The writing process for that one was different. It wasn’t necessarily written for Relient K, and all the other songs were definitely written for this album. I think that was the biggest difference.

    I feel like this album experiments more with song structures than at any point you have in the past. A lot of songs feel like a couple different songs in one. You got some different movements here and there. What was it like playing around with that kind of stuff?

    Thiessen: I think whenever you deviate from the norm, it gets a bit annoying. You annoy a listener that’s trying to listen to a regular old pop song. Sometimes what I want to do with music is make it a little bit annoying, or have it jut out a little it. Messing with the arrangement can do that, or just doing anything can screw it up, really. I feel like that’s all over the record.

    Hoopes: It almost became a theme of like what you were talking about, the movements within the songs. It just always felt right. It felt like it was bringing a new energy to a song that was halfway done by taking a 90-degree left turn. That felt exciting to me.

    When we were putting these songs together and coming up with, OK, what does the tempo change need to be here? What does the key change need to be here? How will the feel of the song drastically change? That was really exciting to me, as far as putting this album together.

    And honestly, I think it’s fun to listen to. I enjoy when bands do that. The theme that we had was let’s make ourselves happy. Let’s do music that we feel is important and feels important to us, and feels exciting and fun. I feel like in some ways at least we’ve accomplished that goal.

    You’ve done some narrative-based songwriting in the past, most notably on “Deathbed,” and that pops up a little bit on this record as well. You got something like “Runnin,’” which has those different movements we were just talking about. Does that change then how you approach writing a song, if you know you’re going for more of that narrative-based approach?

    Thiessen: Honestly, that example in “Runnin,’” I was probably least in favor of putting that there. The song existed from a long time ago. It sounded cool there, and I wasn’t opposed to it 100 percent, but I had to be convinced to do it, mainly because I think it was hard for me to switch to a narrative there.

    I like that idea in songwriting. I’d like to write a book some day. I don’t know if I ever could, but narratives are cool and I like to read. Songwriting, some days I just don’t want to think about it as a thing anymore [laughs].

    Have you ever tossed around the idea of doing a concept record?

    Thiessen: Yeah.

    Hoopes: It’s definitely been talked about. Mark, who produced this record, that’s something he’s brought up since probably 2002.

    Thiessen: That “Deathbed” song was intended to actually turn into a concept record. The middle song from “Runnin,’” the orphan song, was supposed to be the first track on it. So maybe we’ll finish it, yeah.

    Hoopes: Who knows? It’s something he was not only constantly suggesting, this concept album type thing, but also he was the one very much in favor of putting those three movements together. He was really driving that ship, as far as making sure that that happened.

    Thiessen: And that’s what you want in a producer. You want a producer that’s excited about something and sees it as something different than maybe what you see it as. It’s fun to follow him.

    But yeah, the concept record kind of reminds me of Sufjan Stevens when he said he was going to write about all the states, right? We just haven’t finished it yet, but maybe he’ll write about all 50 states and maybe we’ll finish it. I bet he’s got a lot of states done. He probably just wants to release it all at once. He wants to do an album, right?

    Hoopes: An album per state, yeah.

    Thiessen: That’s an undertaking.

    Another song I really enjoyed and was struck by on the record was “God,” which almost feels like a sequel to “For the Moments I Feel Faint” in some ways. I was curious what do you think has changed for you on that journey over these last 15 years?

    Thiessen: Not a lot has changed, yeah. I like going to church. I enjoy it a lot. I don’t go every week. Matt goes every week, don’t you?

    Hoopes: Yeah, I go a lot.

    Thiessen: Matt takes his kids, and that’s good. Switchfoot is a really good example in this world, and we’re excited to be going on tour with them. That “God” song is cool. It was hard to put on the record, because I didn’t want anyone thinking we were shoving anything, but I think it comes across pretty all right.

    Hoopes: I think also the older you get, the more of life you live through, you realize that your faith, your spirituality, your overall view of what’s important in this time that we have on this planet, is much more complex than can be fit into a song, or into an album even, and also that music is in and of itself important.

    Music is one of those conduits that allows for expressing some of those feelings. I think if anything we felt there was some pressure taken off. It’s not like you have to have your entire theology spelled out in an album, but it can be a cool expression here and there for sure.

    Thiessen: Mark Townsend, before every preproduction day, basically said words over the record and prayed. When you make music, you’re creating something out of nothing. So to do it and give it as gifts, and as you’re doing it embrace it as it’s not for us but to worship and to make music for the joy of making music, when you do it with that attitude, something cool will come out of it. Mark knew that when we started, and I really appreciated him being that leader in that way.

    You came up in the CCM market on the first few records, and then were in the major label world for a bit after that. Have you ever felt pressure, either externally or internally, to include or exclude certain subjects on records, or anything like that?

    Thiessen: You can start with swearing, I suppose. I try not to swear in songs. I’ve pushed the envelope, I’m sure, to a certain extent on subject matter. I remember writing a song that Matt Hoopes’ mom didn’t like a long time ago, and then more recently we’ve probably gotten some pushback from Collapsible Lung a little bit.

    I don’t know. There’s nothing that I want to say that I don’t get to say, I guess. You know, Blink-182, when they can use all the words, you’re like, “Yeah! That’s cool [laughs].”

    Hoopes: That’s funny. Yeah, I think it’s mainly been a good thing for us. It’s helped us realize what’s important to us and what is the mark we want to leave on the world. For us, being able to focus on positivity, on things that are important to us, has been a help and not a hindrance. We don’t view it as a set of rules as much as just being able to take a step back.

    Thiessen: We have 10-year-old fans. I mean, that’s a cool thing to have. I embrace that and I’m glad that we have them, and younger. When we write songs, I guess we hope that they’ll like them. Sometimes they may not understand everything, but yeah.

    One of the cool deviations you throw in on the record is “Empty House,” where you do some Bon Iver/Kanye style vocal effects. What was it like playing around with that?

    Thiessen: The interesting part, I suppose, is I didn’t play around with it very much. I didn’t know what to sing over the song, so I hit record and what I did is what the song is, what the one lead vocal is in the song. And then I was like, all right. I’m done. I threw an Auto-Tuner on it and some effects I have on my computer. I was like, great. It’s done.

    Matt actually did like it. I thought it was just one of those joke songs I would have around that I would play every once in a while for a friend or I would go back and visit. But Matt thought it was cool enough to go on the record, so we put some more instruments on it. And that’s it.

    Hoopes: “Empty House” is a song that to me is one of my favorites, if not my favorite, on the album. I actually pushed at one point to call the album “Empty House.” The reason for that is the first time I heard that demo Matt is talking about that he made, I remember just feeling it. I remember understanding the emotion he was trying to get across, even though all the lyrics weren’t finished and there’s an Auto-Tune on all the way.

    There’s something about that that I had never heard before that I felt was important. I felt like we would lose something if we went back and tried to fix it or polish it up too much. I just thought it was amazing that I could feel the emotion he was trying to put out in whatever way I was feeling it.

    I think that makes it important and is an interesting way to do it. It feels bold to me to do that. It feels in some ways the most punk rock thing we could do is to release a piano song with an Auto-Tuner on it and a vocoder, having fun with that type of thing.

    Two of my other favorite songs on the record I’ll ask about real quick are “Local Construction” and “Man.” Can you talk about those two a little bit?

    Thiessen: Cool. “Man” is funny. I’ve never heard anybody say they like that song before.

    Hoopes: I’ve seen it a lot.

    Thiessen: Oh, that’s cool. That one, I don’t know what it’s about. It was supposed to be somewhat of a continuation of the last song on Forget and Not Slow Down, called “(If You Want It).” There’s some sort of tie in there, with pirate ships and Peter Pan and all that stuff. But yeah, that was one of the first ones I wrote for the record.

    Then, “Local Construction.” We live in Nashville. I like to get around in Nashville. I like to exercise. I’ll go run around and one place I like to go is called Love Circle. It’s this hill you can climb, usually covered in trash, but you can look out and see the entire city and the skyline. Depending on what time of day, you can see the sunrise.

    There’s so many cranes out there. You can count them all and it’s fun. Sometimes I get 14, sometimes I’m at 22. You can spot all these cranes making all the construction. It dies down. It gets bigger, and then it gets smaller. But anyways, construction as a metaphor, everybody experiences it. It affects your life, and then there’s what you do in your own life. There was a parallel to making the album, and just being a good guy takes work.

    Seeing this construction all the time and all these people working, sometimes I feel bad I’m not out there doing something harder, like jackhammering concrete. I don’t want to do that, but I’m glad that people do it for us. Sometimes they put up huge buildings that block the view, but the building therefore becomes the view and the skyline keeps growing. It’s weird to see it change from season to season. So Nashville is just this flurry of construction.

    I’ve always been a big fan of both your Christmas songs and your covers. I was curious have you ever talked about doing any more of either of those?

    Thiessen: Always. That’s permanently on the docket, yeah. We probably have another Christmas song to record by now.

    Hoopes: That we should definitely do.

    Thiessen: “Christmastime in North America,” is that what it is?

    Hoopes: Yeah, let’s do that one. We got one more Christmas song coming at you there. Do you have any cover requests?

    Ooh, cover requests…

    Hoopes: We’re going to put you right on the spot.

    Thiessen: We’ll cover it right now.

    Hoopes: You can text me later. It’s cool.

    I really like your “Sloop John B” cover, so I wouldn’t mind another Beach Boys one.

    Thiessen: That’s a good one.

    Hoopes: A Beach Boys cover album is something I always wanted to do.

    Thiessen: Yeah, I would do a Paul Simon and Beach Boys cover combo. That’d be great.

    Hoopes: Either that or we had that idea to do the Nickelback and Smash Mouth cover combo.

    Thiessen: That’s kind of evil. I hate to talk negatively, but there were songs on the radio that we just couldn’t stand. We were going to cover all of them and it was going to be really great. None of them were by Nickelback or Smash Mouth, though.

    You’ve been busy doing a bunch of different collaborative songwriting on the side. Have you been doing any of that lately?

    Thiessen: Yeah, that’s always fun. I got to hang out with Gin Wigmore the other day. She’s really nice. We wrote with my friend, Frank, who has produced Darius Rucker and Brad Paisley. Some really cool country stuff. I’ve been writing with that band COIN. I really like them a lot. They’ve been letting me hang out, meet cool producers and just be in the mix. But yeah, life is an adventure on that front for sure.

    Sometimes I like to concentrate on the band, sometimes I like to go on songwriting adventures, and sometimes I like to chill. Right now, I’m working on a project with Adam Young from Owl City. I think it’s called Goodbye Dubai. We’ve kind of tweeted about it before or something. Kids know about it. That’s taking shape and that’s really fun. I fly out to Minnesota next week to keep working on it.

    You worked with the Fray on their new record, right?

    Thiessen: Yeah, and since then, too. I don’t know where they are with their current endeavor, but I’m excited to hear it. I wrote a couple songs with Isaac that hopefully will come out in the future. They’re really great guys. I know Joe and Isaac the best, but they’re really big personalities. I feel like I can learn so much from hanging out with them for just minutes. It’s cool to get to write with people that I’m a fan of.

    At this point in Relient K’s career, you are pretty much self-sufficient. You’re on your own label and more or less run the band all in-house. How have you liked taking on all that workload?

    Hoopes: It’s a lot of fun. It doesn’t come without its problems, but I like that we can do whatever we want whenever we want. It’s calling one guy, rather than making sure a team of people agree with what you want to do. I think right now being nimble, being able to switch gears and do whatever you want, is worth a lot. We try to be thankful for where we’re at and what we’re doing.

    It’s not without its problems, though. Like for example, we were on the fence about releasing a CD version of this album in general, just making them. We were like, “Are we just putting out waste into the Earth by creating these compact discs?” So right now our compact disc is running a little bit late because of miscommunications between the graphic designer and the printer. Things that are on us to take care of now all of a sudden, and we are not the best at taking care of those things sometimes.

    Thiessen: That’s funny. I’m just now finding out about this.

    Hoopes: Yeah, it’s just running a little bit late. It was supposed to be here last week and it’s not here yet. So that’s fun. It will come out, though. We will have a compact disc version.

    You grew up listening to CDs. I grew up listening to CDs. Is it almost sad, or bittersweet in a way, that you even have to have a discussion these days on whether or not you’re going to make CDs?

    Thiessen: No, not to me, just because of the way history has accepted and then rejected different media forms. I don’t shed a tear for VHS. It’s kind of fun to pop one in every once in a while. I don’t have an 8-track player, but I kind of wish I did. That’d be cool. Vinyl’s good. CD’s are fine, if you have a CD player. I don’t know if I have one anywhere.

    Hoopes: Yeah, it’s a funny thing. I do understand that in the scope of our career someone might have all our other records on CD and want to finish it.

    Thiessen: Yeah, that’s cool. I would want a CD.

    Hoopes: I guess that’s fine. Me, personally, do I care if an album that I’m going to get, if they make it on CD or not? No, I don’t care. I don’t think there’s any tears shed on our end.

    You already mentioned it, but the big thing you have coming up in the fall is the Switchfoot tour. It was nine years ago since you toured with them last, which was a really fun time. Can you talk about what you have in-store for that tour?

    Thiessen: We don’t have much in-store. We’re still trying to figure all that out, but we’re excited to go on it. It’s going to be a lot of shows and should be fun.

    Hoopes: Yeah, we’re really excited to hang out with them. We’re really excited to play a lot of these venues and just enjoy doing what we do. I think this is an amazing context to be able to do that, touring with these guys that we love. It’s feels very positive. It feels like the right move for this record.

    Thiessen: We’re really appreciative of them taking us out. They’re pretty awesome. Their live show is really great. I think everything they do is really good. I’ve always been a huge fan of their music.

    What do you think of their new album?

    Thiessen: I haven’t taken it in as deeply as I normally take in their stuff. I really do like everything I’ve heard so far a lot. I’ve just been kind of waiting to learn Relient K songs before I give it the real. I take in singles at a time, so I’ve been listening to the single for a little bit, just getting into that. It’s really good.

    Hoopes: Yeah, I really like it. I really like “If the House Burns Down Tonight.” There’s one other track. The one right before that, kind of slower melody. I forget the name of the track.

    Yeah, the one where his voice goes up high.

    Hoopes: Yeah, I like that one a lot. There’s some really great moments on the record. I’m really excited to hear some of these songs every night pretty much, and we will.

    Thiessen: I think we should play a song with them or something.

    Hoopes: Yeah, we’ve been talking to them about doing something with them collaboratively at the end of the night.

    I remember you did that song “Rebuild” together last time.

    Hoopes: Yeah, that was fun.

    I know since “Deathbed” is too long, you probably won’t be able to perform it on this tour, but have you ever performed that live with Jon before?

    Thiessen: Not live.

    Hoopes: I thought we did it at a festival maybe once or twice.

    Thiessen: Oh, yeah.

    Hoopes: I don’t know, though. I can’t fully remember.

    Thiessen: I don’t know how we did it. Maybe he just came up and did it, and more than likely we didn’t have him in our ears. We, like everybody else, heard it, but we didn’t actually hear it [laughs].

    Hoopes: Yeah, I don’t know. We’ve still talked about playing “Deathbed” on this tour. I think it’d be fun. The idea of having only the two bands is that we can each play a full set. We can do whatever we want, right?

    The main thing in my head right now is how many of these new songs should we subject people to? How many people actually do want to hear some of these new songs? And which new ones and which old ones? There’s so much catalogue to go through. Songs that we think are fun and songs that maybe we’re a little burned on but it makes for a fun night, you know?

    Thiessen: We could do an interactive setlist.

    Hoopes: Yeah, we always talk about stuff like that. I think that’s probably the main thing that’s on my mind, seeing that we have a lot of songs.

    And then plus any time you’re not on a headline tour, you probably want to do less deep cuts that a casual fan might not be familiar with.

    Hoopes: Yeah, so it’s an interesting thing. I feel like there’s some bands that I’ll go see and I almost get angry when they play new songs, and then there’s some bands I’ll go see and they play almost all new songs and I love it [laughs]. I’m just trying to decide what type of record this is for us.

    I think this record would be really fun to see live, but that’s just me.

    Thiessen: No, thank you.

    Hoopes: I think we could eventually, but since we’re co-headlining a Switchfoot tour, I don’t know. It would be a bold move.

    Thiessen: Play 100 songs in an hour and 10 minutes. It’ll be great.

    Hoopes: We’ll try and make it fun for the people who are watching us.

    So wrapping this up then, have you planned anything out for after the Switchfoot tour? Has there been any talk of what is next?

    Thiessen: Yeah, it’s funny. Our manager tells me sometimes, “So, this should be our last record, right?” I’m like, “No, it’s not. Nobody said that.” He was as surprised as anyone when I said we’ll just make another one. It’ll be fun to make another one. Hopefully, it won’t take as long this time.

    Hoopes: I kind of like the idea, going back to what I said earlier about redefining what Relient K is and how we approach it, and the narrative that we’re back and we’re doing stuff. We can call our own shots now. We can release songs at a time. We can release albums whenever we want. We can make videos and do live covers and just have fun with it. I like figuring out what kind of niches we can fill right now, what kind of space we can occupy.

    A lot of your contemporaries are starting to wind their careers down. Anberlin a couple years ago, Motion City Soundtrack and Yellowcard this year. What is that like, to see these bands you came up with at the same time, end? Like you were saying, do you see yourselves being able to continue on in the future? Have you given thought to that?

    Thiessen: To every action, there is an equal and opposite. You see guys like Andrew McMahon and Kenny from Starting Line doing new things and keeping it fresh. I think Matt and I are very interested in starting some new projects. I’m doing the thing with Adam, and that’s exciting to me. I’m excited for what Stephen Christian from Anberlin is doing with his life, and I’m excited for what all the other guys are going to do after they put their bands on hold for a little bit.

    Every band that breaks up or calls it quits is just taking a break until somebody wants them to play bad enough that they get back together. That’s kind of how I always see it. Guns N’ Roses is still touring, right?

    Hoopes: Yeah, that’s pretty wild. I always see it more that if we can continue to define it in the way that we want to, then yeah, we don’t have to necessarily end this project. We can just continue to make it whatever we want to make it. And yeah, we’re not going to tour 250 days a year in clubs right now. That’s just not what we’re going to do, but we still are going to play shows and have fun when we do it. So yeah, we’ll just kind of keep doing it.

  2. sammyboy516

    Trusted Prestigious

    Awesome interview! It's funny to see how Hoopes seems to stay pretty in tune with what the fans are saying while Thiessen just sort of keeps doing his thing and doesn't care. Like, how on earth did he not know Man is becoming a fan favorite? He seemed surprised that anyone would like that song when it's so clearly one of the best things they've done in years!

    Love this band, love the new album. So glad they don't plan on hanging it up any time soon.
    r0m4n44 and CMilliken like this.
  3. goation


    Great interview! I remember reading about Goodbye Dubai forever ago. Maybe we will actually hear some music this time.
  4. contra11mundum

    I hate spoilers. Supporter

    Wonderful interview.
  5. efp722


    This makes me really want to like this album, gonna try again.

    Also, its pretty well known that Sufjan Stevens is NOT doing the states anymore. Didn't he say that was more of a joke/publicity stunt? Maybe someone should let them know.. haha?
  6. coleslawed

    Eat Pizza

    "all the different faucets Relient K has been"
    I think "facets" is the word you were looking for here.
  7. coleslawed

    Eat Pizza

    Carrie & Lowell could be argued to be an Oregon album, so maybe he's getting back to it, just more subtly...
  8. efp722


    Interesting. Didn't know. Thanks
  9. DearCory


    Excellent interview. Got a lot of answers to questions that I was thinking myself.

    I see Relient K as a band that will never go away. It may be a while between releases, but I see them continually releasing things just for the fun of it.

    Also, so glad to hear Goodbye Dubai is officially happening!!!!
  10. CMilliken


    I love this band. I'm glad they can joke about CL a bit. It really does have some good songs on it.

    Also happy they aren't going to be calling it quits anytime soon. Have just the Matt's in the band always worried me that they were going to give up RK. Glad that's not the case.

    And an RK concept album NEEDS to be a thing!
  11. NitrateDawn


    Great interview but my takeaway is that Thiessen is married??
  12. Will Montei


    Their relaxed answers and the I-don't-know's sort of speak to the nature of this album. Relaxed, breezy, confident. Somehow, the fact the Matt Theissen is a now bird watcher does not surprise me.
  13. Will Montei


    Also, the structure of "Man" feels like it was written for a musical. I'd love a Relient K musical.
  14. I'm so glad that they're planning to just keep on putting music out forever. They seem like the most laid back guys.
  15. SpyKi

    You must fix your heart Supporter

    Yeah, it's funny. I've thought Thiessen was like that for years. He just makes his music and does his thing, haha. More people need to tell him how good "Man" and "Empty House" are though apparently. I bet he has tons of fucking gems recorded that he just doesn't think about, haha.
  16. BackyardHero11


    excellent interview. I've been hoping for a concept album from them ever since hearing Deathbed. between that, FANSD, and the progression of Air for Free, I can only imagine how amazing that would be
    CMilliken likes this.
  17. sammyboy516

    Trusted Prestigious

    Totally! He seems like a really cool, easygoing dude. I agree with the post that said him as a bird watcher makes a lot of sense, ha.
    SpyKi and Will Montei like this.
  18. NotBruce


    Fun read. Really pumped to hear Dave drumming on some of their songs again.
  19. Eric Wilson

    Trusted Prestigious

    Really awesome interview! So glad that they are going to continue to pump out albums. Loving 'Air for Free.'
  20. chhholly123

    i’ve been meaning to tell you

    I love their dynamic—it seems like they really stretch each other creatively. Love that they're not slowing down either!
  21. Luroda

    Consistently Lurking

    Great interview!
  22. Ryan G

    Moderator Moderator

    This interview was absolutely fantastic. Great job. One of the best interviews I've ever read.
    r0m4n44 likes this.
  23. Will Montei


    Is there anything in particular that struck a chord to make you think so?
  24. Ryan G

    Moderator Moderator

    Just felt like such a natural conversation happening between the three of them.
    Will Montei likes this.
  25. thebennewton


    IMO Man is not only the best song on this album, but one of the best songs in the whole RK discography. Some really strong songs in this album, though not as much a fan of the quirky songs these days