Editor’s Note: This was definitely one of the coolest interviews I have done. Recently, Josh Manuel, drummer of ISSUES, completed “The Loyal to the Craft” tour, which offered drum clinics presented by Vans/SJC Custom Drums. Issues will also be releasing their latest album entitled “Beautiful Oblivion” on October 4th via Rise Records. They have also released a music video for “Drink About It” to promote the album. Drummer Josh Manuel of Issues converses with Madness To Creation on drumming techniques and clinics, mental health awareness, and “Beautiful Oblivion”. Fans can find ISSUES at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Thank you for taking the time to interview with me for Madness To Creation Josh! Sounds like you’ve been working out, what are some workouts that you enjoy doing?
Josh: Well, since I wasn’t really much into sports, I hired a personal trainer because obviously being the drummer, I really can’t afford getting hurt, so I had to make sure that I was doing it all the right way, but it just depends on if I’m home, I can go a little bit heavier in the weights cause I don’t have to worry about blowing out any muscles, but when I’m on tour, I kind of do interval training and just like more reps and less weight kind of thing.
Madness To Creation: Do you do cardio along with your interval training?
Josh: I’ll bring a mat and dumbbells out when I’m out on tour, and I just kind of still have a trainer that I work with who is like one of the guys on our team, that’s his cousin, he’s just a trainer, he’ll send us routines that we can do with one dumbbell or whatever.
Madness To Creation: What does that do for your mental state and mental health?
Josh: I found that it’s really helpful, I usually try to do it, it’s a pick-me-up as I’m ready to jam, it keeps me focused, I feel like I can already start the day with knocking something out, it keeps me on a schedule.
Madness To Creation: You offered those drum clinics through Vans/SJC Custom Drums, what did that mean to you to offer those free drum clinics?
Josh: I totally got behind this whole thing, I never thought it was fair for only kids that are financially savvy to be able to learn, I’ve always thought that me, Vans and SJC have felt the same way. We just wanted to provide an environment where it’s easy and it’s relaxed, everybody can just hang out.
Madness To Creation: When you have future drum clinics, what can fans expect from them?
Josh: When I’m on the road, I usually keep doing the lessons and they’re a little bit more personal, obviously the clinics are a little bit bigger, just try to keep it a personal, relaxed vibe, I try to keep it focused on what the student is struggling with or what they’re really interested in diving into, with a clinic, it’s more difficult but I’m open to diving into more broad ideas and then getting a little bit more specific as time goes on, that way everyone at their skill level is still included.
Madness To Creation: Let say I’ve never sat behind a drum kit, what is the first thing that you’re going to teach me?
Josh: I’ve been playing since I was really young, when I was really young, I wasn’t concerned which is not a shocker, I was not really concerned with rudiments, I was more concerned with, “hey, I really like this album or this song, and I want to play drums to it”, and for beginners, that can be really important, obviously there’s a few things that can go a long way, how to hit a snare drum, and certain exercises that can kind of help get your body in motion. Most beginners say, “I love drums, I love playing, but it’s hard because it feels like all of my limbs are fighting each other”, I always reassure them that it’s very common and literally the best way to get your body acclimated, just like with anything, you just keep doing it with consistency. I’m always like, “just put on one of your favorite albums and just play along and have fun”, it gets your body acclimated to just playing the drums first.
Madness To Creation: What is your favorite album not involving Issues to play along to?
Josh: Ooh, that’s a tough question! I know growing up it was “Songs About Jane” by Maroon 5, that had a lot of influence on me overall, not just the drumming, but the musicianship, but the songwriting and structure of that record is really influential to me, nowadays, it’s hard for me to pick a certain album, but that’s a really tough question to answer. I guess nowadays when I’m playing alone at home, I play along to more hip-hop and r&b and stuff.
Madness To Creation: If you could collaborate with one hip-hop artist and it’s for an EP or album, who would the artist be and what would the album title be?
Josh: That’s a tough one too man! I think collaborating with Suicide Boys would be pretty cool, but album title, I have no idea man! *laughs* It’s hard because we would have to figure out what the album sounds like first, but anything like that would be really cool and it’s thinking outside of the box.
Madness To Creation: What is one thing you want to improve on in your drumming?
Josh: My weak link in my drumming is definitely my feet. Whenever I joined Issues, prior to that I marched in high school for a couple of years, and I basically focused on my hands for a long period of time, and whenever I joined Issues, I guess we’re pretty rhythmically involved especially in the footwork department, I’m basically having to go all out on my feet basically.
Madness To Creation: Issues is having an upcoming tour with Polyphia, Lil’ Aaron and Sleep Token. That’s a pretty eclectic mix there. What can fans expect from that tour and what’s one thing that you’re looking forward to the most from the upcoming tour?
Josh: Fans can just expect a good show all the way through. Whenever we curate a headlining bill, we always what to show that Issues is very eclectic, and we have pulled from a lot of different influences so it’s important to us that a bill shows that, so I think having Polyphia, Lil’ Aaron and Sleep Token, well with Sleep Token, I don’t think the U.S. is fully aware of them yet, but in their heavy days they wore masks and were really progressive and their song structures are all five or six minutes, some of their songs start off pretty chill and in the end it just erupts, I think that’s going to catch people off guard in a great way, and with Lil’ Aaron he’s basically just a rapper so he’s completely different but also completely aligned to what we do in Issues, and Polyphia is an instrumental band, so obviously we definitely take inspiration from them, so we’re so glad that they’re down to come on tour with us, but overall it’s just a good time and with our live show, we always just want to curate an environment where everyone’s welcome, everyone shows love, and everyone knows that they’re safe, and everyone just has a great time because as a band, we’re really diverse from our music tastes to who we are as people, we welcome that within our band for sure.
Madness To Creation: What makes Issues more diverse than most bands out there?
Josh: I think it just comes down to who we are as people, the four of us are all very involved in the writing process, I know that all of us listen to common genres and artists within the music realm, we all listen to very different things, over the years we have gotten better with blending all of our tastes together, and I think that really shows with our latest record that comes out October 4th. It just comes down to who we are as people, writers and musicians, and at the end of the day, that’s something that I’m really thankful for, we’re able to push boundaries, and I think it’s gotten to the point to where fans know to expect the unexpected, and we put out new singles at this point, and for us the response has been awesome because it’s been overwhelmingly positive, but in our entire career, we never put out new singles from a new album and it not be completely polarizing to our fanbase, so for these two single to go over as well as they have, we’re ecstatic, but I think the third single that we put out is going to be pretty polarizing, and I think that’s something that we look forward to, we like stirring the pot, and our fans know that we are going to write what we are going to write, and I think that works for us.
Madness To Creation: Was that mentality tough for you guys at first or was it that you had the confidence that you’ll build the band and the music and the fans will come organically, not sure if that question makes sense or not?
Josh: It does make sense. It’s always been we’re going to make the music that we like to make, and if people like it then they’ll like it, for us, music absolutely comes first, there’s no questions asked, for this record[Beautiful Oblivion], we wrote 45 to 50 songs and we narrowed it down to 13 songs over the course of two and a half years, so the music is absolutely our main focus, and again, we’re kind of fearless in the fact that we just want to write exactly what we want to hear and if it resonates with people it does, but if it doesn’t then at the end of the day, we know that we love it, and that’s enough.
Madness To Creation: Issues released the music video for “Drink About It”, can you take us into that song?
Josh: “Drink About It” is a song that we had for a minute, and we’re all pretty passionate about it, essentially the chorus of the song is basically a pop song vocally and structurally, with our band, we basically wanted to make the verses sound like a beat essentially, that’s why it’s not too crazy, it’s remnants of a trap song, but as you get into the second verse, you hear a triplet shuffle more like a gypsy riff, I think it’s a good second single for us because it represents a lot of different dynamics in Issues, basically as a band there’s a technical aspect that shows up in the second verse, and Tyler, our vocalist, is very dynamic on this song, which I think is really cool because a lot of his fans are hearing a side of his voice that they have never heard before, it’s like higher falsetto stuff verses, and in the chorus, we kept it pretty straightforward, we just wanted it to feel really good, we wanted it to feel like a pop banger with a lot of energy, so when we play it live, it’s basically just a big party, the lyrics are not too incredibly in depth, but that’s intentional and it’s supposed to be just a feelgood song, and the second half of the song gets a little more moody, like the chords and also the vocal melodies, it just erupts from there, but that song is a great second single because it embodies a lot of what Issues is going forward.
Madness To Creation: I have a mental health question for you, I’m sure Issues have fans coming up to you all and say “that song has got me through”, what advice do you have for our readers that are struggling?
Josh: Well, we’ve been a band for eight years now, and no matter how big or small the show is, we try to meet people and hang out with the fans because that’s really important to us, we do have conversation with them on a nightly basis, which is really cool because we’re all really thankful for that, and I think whenever people say, “hey, your music helped me through this, it helped pull me out of this place”, I think we all give credit where it’s due, we always say, “thank you for having our music having an effect on you, but credit where it’s due, you did this, you pulled yourself out of it, and that’s so important to us and we really respect you for that”, so yeah, we talk to people a lot and we do have a very wide fanbase in terms of where our demographics really is, and that’s something that we want, we want everyone to feel welcome and just being able to have those conversations with people is really important, so we’re really thankful for that.
Madness To Creation: I appreciate you sharing those sentiments. I’m going to give you the floor to add anything you want to add.
Josh: Be sure to catch Issues on our headlining tour in November and December with Polyphia, Lil’ Aaron and Sleep Token, we’re also headed to the U.K. for about a week in October.
And there you have it! Issues will be out with Lotus Eater in U.K. and Europe. Check out the dates below:
Mon. 10/7- Musik & Freiden in Berlin, Germany
Tue. 10/8- Baroeg in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Wed. 10/9- Club Volta in Cologne, Germany
Thu. 10/10- Gibus Club in Paris, France
Sat. 10/12- Clwb lfor Bach in Cardiff, Wales
Sun. 10/13- The Cathouse in Glasgow, United Kingdom
Mon. 10/14- O2 Academy in Birmingham, United Kingdom
Tue. 10/15- Manchester Academy in Manchester, United Kingdom
Thu. 10/17- The Underworld in London, United Kingdom
As mentioned in the interview, Issues will be supporting “Beautiful Oblivion” with Polyphia, Lil’ Aaron, and Sleep Token. Check out the gig dates below:
Thu. 11/7- Diamond Ballroom in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Fri. 11/8- The Aztec Theater in San Antonio, Texas
Sat. 11/9- House of Blues in Houston, Texas
Sun. 11/10- House of Blues in Dallas, Texas
Tue. 11/12- Sunshine Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Wed. 11/13- The Pressroom in Phoenix, Arizona
Thu. 11/14- The Mayan in Los Angeles, California
Fri. 11/15- House of Blues in San Diego, California
Sat. 11/16- Ace of Spades in Sacramento, California
Sun. 11/17- Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, California
Mon. 11/18- Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon
Tue. 11/19- Showbox at The Market in Seattle, Washington
Wed. 11/20- Revolution in Boise, Idaho
Fri. 11/22- The Depot in Salt Lake City, Utah
Sat. 11/23- Summit Music Hall in Denver, Colorado
Mon. 11/25- The Granada in Lawrence, Kansas
Tue. 11/26- Wooly’s in Des Moines, Iowa
Wed. 11/27- Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Fri. 11/29- House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio
Sat. 11/30- Elevation in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Sun. 12/1- House of Blues in Chicago, Illinois
Mon. 12/2- St. Andrews Hall in Detroit, Michigan
Tue. 12/3- Opera House in Toronto, Canada
Wed. 12/4- Club Soda in Montreal, Canada
Fri. 12/6- Gramercy Theatre in New York, New York
Sat. 12/7- The Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts
Sun. 12/8- TLA in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mon. 12/9- Gramercy Theatre in New York, New York
Tue. 12/10- Toad’s Place in New Haven, Connecticut
Wed. 12/11- Reverb in Reading, Pennsylvania
Thu. 12/12- Baltimore Soundstage in Baltimore, Maryland
Fri. 12/13- Underground in Charlotte, North Carolina
Sat. 12/14- Buckhead Theater in Atlanta, Georgia
Sun. 12/15- House of Blues in Lake Buena Vista, Florida
For tickets and further information on any of the gigs listed above, click here.