Interview – Walk Off The Earth

By: Amanda Hather

Walk Off The Earth, a five person band from Burlington, Ontario has been making waves in the Canadian music since their insanely viral cover of Gotye’s “Somebody I Used To Know” hit YouTube in January of 2012. Now with over 480 million total views on their channel, they are set to release their second full length album, ‘Sing It All Away’ on June 16th. The album follows their first full length album, ‘R.E.V.O.’, released in 2013.

We had the lucky chance of chatting with drummer Joel Cassady over the phone on May 29th to get some of the details on what went on behind the scenes of this album, how they come up with the ideas for their music videos, what to expect from their tour, and more. Be sure to check out what he had to say below, as well as check out our review of the album tomorrow.

What was the writing process like for this album?

The writing process was all over the place really. We worked with a lot of different people around the U.S. and in Canada, as the label suggested, and we also had a lot of good sessions ourselves and with the producer of the first LP, we had some great sessions with him. It was a bit of a mixed bag and we had a lot of time on our hands this time to really explore some options. The writing process was usually positive and it was an enriching experience to work with a lot of people this time versus the smaller network the last time around.

Do you have any personal favourites from the new album?

Yeah, I would say “Rule The World”, the first single, is definitely high up there for us. There’s also a great song on the album called “Hold On (The Break)” that I personally hope will be made into a single. We have a song with Steve Aoki, the EDM artist, DJ, that he kind of spun around in his own way called “Home We’ll Go (Take My Hand)”. Another one we all like which is “I’ll Be Waiting”, which I would say actually is my favourite, so I’m pulling for that or “Hold On” to be the next single.

What was your favourite part of the recording process?

I would say it was having more time this time around. With the first record we had to kind of do picking off and blowing off and we only had about three months to get it all together. This time we’ve been working on it for the better part of a year actually, at least eight or nine months, stretching out and really exploring all of our options for the album. Exploring all of the writing stuff, exploring sounds and going over everything two or three times making sure that we had the right flavour happening, which, again, was a luxury we did not have the with the first album. Having time to explore and create a more unified, solid record was definitely the best part of this process.

Can you tell us some of the inspirations behind the songs?

Yeah, we’re doing pop songs here at their roots, we like to use neat instruments and use instruments in different ways and I think we’re still mostly inspired by pop music and that’s why we’re covering these kinds of songs and taking influence from those. I would say that always keeping an eye out and keeping an ear open to the Top 40. There’s party songs and love songs. I think sticking to that and still having a unique thread in there, especially when you’re at a point where your fans are almost telling you – helping dictate the future to them by telling you what they like most about the lyrics and about the songs. At their roots these songs are celebration songs, they’re love songs. The twist, of course, we’re working with different vocalists here and we’re working with a whole slew of production ideas that are fairly unique to us. I would say those things kind of all work together to inspire what we’ve ended up with at this point.

Are there going to be any more videos for the album?

Yeah, there’s going to be a tonne. We’re actually going to do a video for every single track. We have a very awesome crowd funding sort of platform in place now called Patreon, a company out of San Francisco, that allows fans of the band to get in at a financial level and help fund videos so we don’t have to wait around to pitch to our label for advance money or for budgets for stuff, we can just kind of make a video one day and know that our core group of supporters will be there for us and they have access to seeing the videos early and get updates every month, so that’s been a big help for those. With those budgets we can come up with a video for the songs. We’ll still use the Columbia budgets for the singles but I think that everyone could look forward to some sort of individual representation of every track on this album.

How do you come up with the ideas for your videos?

That usually varies. Now that we’re kind of in with the label world we have the ability to cut out treatments and video ideas from directors from all over the world, which is an amazing honour. That’s really cool for the different styles in like “Red Hands” and “Rule The World”, are the product of collaborations with other directors who had a vision and we kind of met halfway and create the product that everyone sees. As far as the covers go that’s totally a mixed bag; as a band we’re getting more and more into the production side and stuff like the Taylor Swift video for example, the one we shot on the beach there was my idea, I just got that one together. When the band first started it was all Gianni pitching the cover ideas and working with us on those but as things have grown and especially since we now have the chance to do this full time I think that everyone is always thinking. We’re talking all day long, every day, about what would be a cool cover idea, how we could do it, how we would set it up, we’re thinking all day long and it’s quite a collaborative effort. We’re all pretty creative and it’s a nice kind of melting pot of ideas at this point.

Who are some of your musical influences?

I personally grew up, getting more into the high school years, listening to bands like Tool and the Mars Volta and Red Hot Chili Peppers and stuff, like those seminal rock bands and even bands like Blink-182 and Green Day, I don’t think there’s a single drummer my age who didn’t try and play along to Travis Barker from Blink-182. Those kinds of bands definitely helped form me, but now these days I’m into producers like Pharrell and Paul Edwards who are the real movers and shakers of the industry who really have it down and can work with any artist and can be an inspiration to any artist and that’s kind of where I see myself going, hopefully, is to be able to go and work with anyone and still know that I’m putting my sound into those guys and still work with talented artists.

What can fans expect from your upcoming live performances?

The new live shows, the one we’re doing right now, is a combination of our old live show and our new live show because the album isn’t out yet so we’re playing about five of the new songs, but we’re still kind of using the ebb and flow of the old show. Right now it’s about at the halfway point and we have added some new cool stuff like a smoking drum that we use on stage that has smoke rings come out and some new kind of cool stage tricks and stuff, and mess with the arrangements of some of the older songs to let people who may have seen the show a couple of times have a new take on it. Right now we’re kind of settling in on the new tunes and this run is done in about a week, and after the album comes out and getting into the fall tour, we’re really going to be hitting it hard. Almost all of the new tracks, most of the old tracks, a good hybrid of those two, and just more crazy, intense live show stuff like stuff shooting everywhere and stuff flying and fire and pyro, who knows. They can look forward to a lot. If you’re coming to the show you can look forward to a complete sensory overload. Welcome to a rock show.

Is there any stop on the tour you’re looking forward to the most?

I’d actually say tomorrow, not that I’m not happy to play at home and in Canada and playing Vancouver which is absolutely gorgeous and we love playing but Seattle is tomorrow (May 30th) and it’s my favourite U.S. city and I’m not sure why, there’s just a certain vibe there and it’s one of my most favourite places to play. Beyond that we’ve announced a European tour for the fall and we are all very excited to play there. There are lots of places around the world we love to play.

What’s your favourite thing about touring?

What’s funny is when we’re not touring we’re spending so much time producing music and producing  videos and other things that when we’re at home we don’t really have time to just jam. We have to keep up with the videos and create content and keep them engaged that we don’t get a whole lot of time off the road to just jam as a band. We spent four weeks straight rehearsing with this new show  that we have now and then get back into like music person mode and really stretch out with that stuff and feel confident with these new songs and hopefully impress people every night with our stuff and our chemistry and interacting on stage.

Do you have a favourite song to play live?

I would say some of the new ones like “I’ll Be Waiting” are really fun to play because it definitely has more of a dance floor feel to it and it’s really fun to see the people dancing and moving and stuff. “Home We’ll Go” again, and some off of ‘R.E.V.O.’ that have more of the dance feel because it’s cool to pull off all the parts on my kit. But it’s also really fun to play the chill ones like “Hold On” that I mentioned and of course “Rule The World” and “Red Hands”, the big singles that always get the best crowd response. I shouldn’t say too much but we’re putting a new spin on our five person guitar. I think everyone in the world at this point seen the way we used to do that with the Gotye cover so I’ll just say that you’re going to see more covers this time, it’s now a medley and we’re having a really good time with that one as well.

Is there any place you haven’t toured yet but you’d really like to?

Yeah, I would say South America. We have a great fan base down there and I feel like we’ve proved ourselves around the rest of the world that we could probably make it happen down there. I know you have to be a little careful because there’s a lot of interesting characters down there and you have to be careful but there’s also very beautiful countries down there that shouldn’t be overshadowed by everything else that happens there. We’d also love to go farther east in Europe, we’ve never really gone into Russia or other places like that. Eastern Europe and South America are definitely on my list.

And finally, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?

I would just like to say that we are very excited to release this album, ‘Sing It All Away’ on June 16th and we’re going to be on The Today Show, down in New York, on the day that it’s released, which is a huge honour because it’s played in almost every household in the United States. And I would say that get really excited for the fall after Sarah has the baby and we’ll be ready to rock with a whole new live show so come out to the show, go get the album, and look forward to a lot more Walk Off The Earth.

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