Checking in with I the Mighty, at the TLA Tuesday and Wednesday nights

Alternative/progressive rock quartet I the Mighty is playing Philadelphia as a stop on its national tour with Anberlin. The concerts will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, July 9-10, at the Theatre of the Living Arts, 334 South St. Show times are 8 p.m. both nights. For tickets, go to http://venue.tlaphilly.com/.

I the Mighty

As the band wraps up the tour and looks toward writing and recording a new album, the Northeast Times sat down with lead singer and guitarist Brent Walsh to talk about the state of rock and roll, Philly cheesesteaks and the future of the band’s music.

You just put out “Cave In.” Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration for that song?

Cave In is probably the most personal song that I’ve ever written. It’s a song that a lot of people close to me have urged me to write for a long time because it’s about my father and his drug use when I was pretty young and how it kind of split our family up. It took a long time for me to feel comfortable enough in my own skin, especially because me and him have a good relationship now.

Is your sound headed in a more alternative/pop direction? 

We were thinking about heading that way but it just didn’t feel genuine. We’re always going to have certain songs that might lean in that space because we all love that space, too…but if you’re really going to lean into alternative radio, it helps to be that band and maybe have an entire album that leans in that direction. I don’t think we’re ready to have an album that does that. “Cave In” isn’t something super heavy but it’s definitely a little more natural to who we are and what we do. The sound of “Cave In” is definitely something you can expect on whatever we do next.

What is the next record going to sound like?

There’s one thing that’s maybe not great for our career but one thing we’re kind of set on is not repeating ourselves. I don’t think anything we’ve ever done has really sounded like the record before it. At the root, we’re always us, and I think the fact that the four of us contribute to the writing makes us a unique band with a unique sound. None of us wants to make a Connector 2 or a Satori 2. We’re all just kind of figuring out what that next direction is for us. I think we’re jonesing to bring back some of the progressive elements of Satori with odd time signatures and songs taking a sudden shift in a different direction. Where we’re at right now is taking elements that we’ve loved about our prior records and blending them with some new production elements that we haven’t tried.

I personally love the album as a format, but in 2019 things are headed in the direction of let’s just bang out a song and get it out there. The idea of producing a record that flows and makes sense is awesome and very rock and roll, but how important is that to you guys vs. one off singles?

One off singles are great, and I understand why they make sense in the current music culture. Like I get why it might be better for our career to do two songs and then, three months later, drop three more songs. I think, for me personally, I’m a little more old school and I just love records. When I listen to a band, I typically don’t just go to a Spotify and look at their top five songs. I’m mostly going to go to their record and listen to the record all the way through. I mean, that’s art to me. Versus just dropping singles and hoping it moves your career forward. There’s so much more to grab onto for a full-length record than there is three singles here or there. There’s a full body of a really meaningful thing that people have put so much work into.

So you’re coming to Philly, have you had a Philly cheesesteak?

Oh, of course. There’s that age-old battle. We’ve played that game. I’m probably cheesesteaked out, to be honest. We’ve been touring so long, you make that a staple every time you go to Philly, you try a different cheesesteak but after you’ve done that and tried 10 different cheesesteaks from 10 different places, I don’t even remember at this point what my favorite one is.

Yeah, I mean, at a certain point it’s probably more like, “Let me sleep in my Airbnb.”

Yeah, and also maybe not eat a cheesesteak and have a salad, you idiot. I’ve been treating my body so badly I need to start getting my diet back together, and a cheesesteak is probably not something that’s gonna help that.

You guys are kind of vets at this point.

When we started this band, rock music was the No. 1-selling music in the world. My Chemical Romance was filling stadiums. You know, the scene has completely changed.

It’s interesting, I’m sure you heard of the Disrupt Festival…it would strike me that maybe there is a market again for acts like MCR and you guys that millennial emo kids grew up with. Are we on the precipice of an emo revival?

You know, we went out to dinner with Anberlin two nights ago, and I was talking to Stephen about this. It feels like there’s a bit of a void in rock music right now that needs to be filled. I do think that’s true, I feel like momentum is possibly starting to shift back in rock’s direction. Bands like Bring Me the Horizon are absolutely smashing it. There are definitely some acts that are doing it.

Any advice for young people interested in picking up a guitar and starting a band?

We’ve gotten this question a lot. Our advice is always don’t get caught up in what’s cool or trendy in the moment. Just make the music that you want to make. ••