INTERVIEW: half•alive on “Conditions of a Punk” and Their New Tour
Alternative pop trio half•alive, known for their complex contemporary choreography and invigorated modern takes on time-honored alternative traditions, recently announced their upcoming tour for their recently released masterpiece Conditions of a Punk. We got the chance to chat with J Tyler, Josh, and Brett ahead of all of their upcoming exploits.
How are you feeling about the reception to Conditions of a Punk so far?
J Tyler: We were excited to get this body of work out that we’ve held onto so closely for the last couple years. We knew it was going to be a lengthy release that really show’d where we are at as a band. The reception to it has been very good and encouraging, we put it all out there, and our fans are really meeting us in it.
Was there a moment that inspired the change in plans from Give Me Your Shoulders, Part 2 to Conditions of a Punk? How early on did you know that COAP was the project you would release as opposed to GMYS2?
J Tyler: There was a moment post-[Give Me Your Shoulders, Part 1] where we sat down and had a meeting about where the songs were headed and how our fans were reacting to part 1 of GMYS. After that meeting we felt like the batch of songs we had felt bigger than just a “part 2” and we needed to explore what that looked like.
You said in the post announcing the cancellation of GMYS2 that you needed “something beyond it.” What parts of COAP do you feel are beyond the original vision for GMYS2?
J Tyler: GYMS Part 2 put us in a lane that was complimenting to where Part 1 had been. Opening up the album outside those restrictions- to be longer, more expansive musically & lyrically allowed us to push ourselves to find different sounds that led to different songs that felt a little more fearless.
Y’all are known for your intricate choreography present across the whole of your discography. When you’re songwriting, how much does this visual aspect play into that creative process, and how does that process influence your live performance?
Josh: Choreography is a part of the music creation process but more in an unconscious way. I’m not dancing & then making music to match the dance, but I am feeling where the music can go based on how my body wants to move to it. Movement is very front of mind as we create the visual side of the live show with JA collective, our creative collaborators & choreographers. How the show moves as a whole is choreography in itself. How the music rises and falls, what movement happens on stage, etc.
What has been the biggest change in the creative process between Now, Not Yet and COAP? You described Now, Not Yet as more “cerebral”, and COAP as more “emotional.” Would you say that these themes overlap at all between your freshman and sophomore releases, and if so, where do they overlap?
Josh: The biggest different in the creation of the two records is that we put every song we had at the time on Now, Not Yet. With Conditions, we spent 2 years writing, so we ended up with about 50 songs to choose from, similar to how the creation of the 3 EP & the genesis of the band. The other giant lyrical difference is that those 2 years of writing were a really influential time in my relational life. I processed the things of the heart in those 2 years, vs the things of the head in the time of writing Now, Not Yet. The crossover between the head and heart is probably the more introspective songs, like Conditions of a Punk, or I’ll Stop, or Did I Make You Up? – all of which we wrote later in the record making process.
You posted an appreciation post for all the hands that touched COAP. Who do you feel amongst all of those producers and songwriters added some of the most unique and interesting touches to an album that is so sonically complex? What made these contributions so unique?
Josh: Oh, thats a really hard question to answer. Theres so many people who worked on the record & almost every song has someone different to added something so instrumental to the overall shape of the record. The only common thread tying the whole record together is the 3 of us working on each track, in the writing and producing stages. So technically I guess I would say it’s us. But I will say – early in the record process the production duo Ojivolta were very influential in our trajectory. They helped us sift through a giant pile of songs we had in a tangle of genres helping us decide what the second half•alive record wanted to be. Which was really a lot of deciding what is wasn’t. They were also influential in how we manipulate our instruments, how to destroy things & give character to sounds.
What is the biggest thing you learned from touring with the Takeover Tour and then subsequently touring GMYS? What weren’t you expecting from those tours that ended up surprising you?
Brett: Touring with the Takeover Tour had so many takeaways for us, it’s difficult to pick just one. Watching these shows night after night showed us the depth and scale that twenty one pilots pours into their show -we found ourselves being inspired to approach our shows with the same intention and felt that our GMYS tour was filled with new energy because of our time on the takeover tour. One surprising thing was the experience of playing a small venue, to medium venue, and ending with a huge venue in each city. Each show felt like a new environment and we enjoyed the challenge of having to level up in each venue.
Are you anticipating a monumental difference between the GMYS tour and the upcoming COAP tour? If so, why?
Brett: Yes. COAP was not only an extension of GMYS but rather a new world that GMYS was paving the way for. We’re excited to bring that same vision to our live show and already feel that this upcoming tour will be our best yet.
Any last messages for half alive fans before you guys hit the road in February?
Can’t wait to see you soon! We’re excited to experience these songs with you.
You can stream their new record Conditions of a Punk here: