Alter The Press!


In The Spotlight: Hey Monday

It's a fact, Decaydance Records' hottest property Hey Monday are building up a bigger reputation for themselves every day. Despite being together for over a year, the Florida five piece have put out a phenomenal debut record and managed to tour over the world.

With the amount of exposure Hey Monday have been getting as of recent, we at Alter The Press wanted to give them the spotlight and the chance to give their side of the story. The band opened up to us about the past, how they originated and obstacles they had to face along the way, and didn't hold back.

We are proud to present this exclusive feature with Hey Monday, 100% honest and uncut.

Alter The Press: How did you start breaking into music?

Cassadee Pope: My sister started taking vocal lessons when I was four years old, but she had to get her adenoids taken out, it was about a month where she couldn't get lessons anymore, so I kind of sat in and started taking lessons. At first I was scared, I cried and was really nervous but my voice coach, Marie Gervette, said I had potential and really built my self esteem up. Marie helped me break out and start singing at festivals and stuff like that, starting at that young age. When I was thirteen, I started singing with bands, but not bands that were my friends, just stepping in bands of people I'd heard of back then and do guest vocals and stuff. Ever since I started playing with bands, I knew that I wanted to be in a band. I liked that way better than singing tracks by myself on stage, it's not the same.

ATP: Eventually you went on to be discovered by Drive-Thru Records. How did this come about?

Cassadee: When I was fifteen years old, I went to the Atlanta Music Conference. At the time I had a band but they didn't want to go to the conference; and didn't want to this for a living. I went along with a band I knew called The Good Nicks, they had learnt all the songs I had written and were my backing band at the conference. But at the showcase itself, at this over 21's bar, nobody was there, which didn't count as one of the panels, Richard Reins (co-owner of Drive-Thru Records), was there. I approached him and said that 'I was a big fan of all the bands on your label, can I sing for you?' as the demos which I had with me were the kind of music I didn't want to do anymore; it was a lot darker and where I didn't want to be.

I managed to find this room, so I took him there and sang for him; as well as a bunch of press people. Before I got in, I saw Will from Cartel and asked if he wanted to hear me sing. I said I would love to write with him one day and he said sure.

So, I sang for Richard and he got in contact with my manager, who used to manage me, and got my information. Eventually, we signed a record deal with them but I wasn't really sure what it was. He told me that it was a development deal, but he also said it could be an actual Drive-Thru deal, if the record came out to be something special; and could do well. So, I honestly wouldn't even know which record label I was on until I put out an album; at the time it was a big mess. I didn't have a band, I wrote all these songs but it wasn't the direction he really wanted, and he didn't want a female fronted band, more like an indie, like Rilo Kiley feel, which wasn't something I wanted to do. After a while, I decided it wasn't working out and got out of it. Towards the year and a half I was with Drive-Thru, I was more of a songwriter and didn't put out anything. Mike Gentile (guitarist of Hey Monday) and I, at the time, got together and started playing in a band called Blake, after the deal with Drive-Thru fell through.

Blake then got discovered by Jay Harren, A&R manager from Columbia Records, and we handed him a really old demo. He liked the direction we were going in however, when Columbia eventually got interested, Blake broke up. Mike and I felt like we were a separate band to the rest of the guys in the Blake, kind of like a conflict of interest, but the two of us still wanted to be in a band. Columbia were still interested and said to us to create a band, 'Find some of your friends, we want you guys to put a record out.'

Mike and I went on to call two of our friends Alex Lipshaw, who I knew from High School, and Elliot James, who we knew from his old band Easton. We really knew each other from different local bands. After going through a few bassists, we called up Jersey who actually toured in West Palm Beach (town in Florida) at a small venue we used to go to; and Elliot knew him from playing a show with his old band Easton. That's how it all came together, Mike and I started writing the record and we started playing together.

Even with Jersey in the band, we still didn't have a name, but after a few weeks, we ran this contest and someone submitted the name 'Hey Monday.' We all agreed that was the name we wanted. As a band, we all played together at one point in our lives. Elliot and I played together once, as well as Mike, it’s all very long and crazy.

ATP: How did you and Mike meet?

Cassadee: Mike and I met each other in middle school. We went to two separate Catholic middle schools in this really small community but would always play basketball games against each other. I was a cheerleader and he was at a game once. My sister introduced us and ever since then we would see each other at shows and we kind of grew up in the same social scene.

ATP: How did Decaydance get into the picture?

Cassadee: Decaydance came into the picture straight after Columbia did. We had just started getting managed by Bret from Ozone Entertainment; he started when Columbia did. Our A&R guy, Aaron, told us about Bret, who manages We The Kings and Boys Like Girls, and we were just like, we love those bands! So, he gave Bret the demo and he was listening to it in the office, which is in the Crush Management office in New York, and they’re also Pete Wentz’s (Fall Out Boy bassist) management. Pete happened to be in the office, heard the demo; said he liked us a lot and that he wanted to sign this band.

ATP: Before you went into the studio and did the record, was everything written before hand or did it just come together?

Cassadee: Mike and I had a ton of songs we had written before hand that were written acoustically, that we needed to re-work, but there were some that we wrote right when we got in the studio. We went on to do pre-production and writing in April, then July through August we recorded the record. It took us about 2-3 months. There was never really a system, we just would go in every day and whatever made sense, whether it be vocals, drums, we just wanted to knock it out without rushing too much.

ATP: Would you say you pushed yourselves to the best of your ability or feel like you rushed anything when doing the record?

Cassadee: There were some things that we thought of doing differently that we didn't end up doing on the record, it was sort of a blessing in disguise because the things we didn't get to do, we do them live, which makes it more exciting and different for the kids. We wanted to start the track ‘Hurricane Streets’ in half time, more choppy, and, at the end of ‘Josey,’ Mike does an awesome guitar solo which we could of put on the record but we didn't think of it at the time. It makes our live show different and a little better.

ATP: Which songs came out first when recording?

Cassadee: 'Six Months,' which I wrote a long time ago. It was a last minute thing, which song to seal the album with a kiss sort of thing so we decided to end the album with that acoustic song. We wrote 'Josey' a long time ago, but it was really jumbled and not really structured, and 'Candles,' which Mike wrote a long time ago. There are a few songs, which are old, but the majority of the album was written recently.

ATP: It’s surprising, considering your biggest hits are your 2 singles, 'Homecoming' and 'How You Love Me Now'.

Cassadee: It's crazy that kids like those songs, considering those are both co-writes with Butch Walker (How You Love Me Now) and William Beckett of The Academy Is… (Homecoming).

ATP: You went on to record two music videos for 'Homecoming' and 'How You Love Me Now', who decided what were going to be the singles?

Cassadee: We have an insane radio team at Columbia who knew what they were doing and we left it their hands. We gave them the album and asked them to tell us what they think. Honestly, I was really happy with releasing 'Homecoming' first; we really wanted the edgy alternative release to set it off to land on alternative stations. We knew immediately, 'How You Love Me Now' had to be a single because of the crowd reaction live and the 'whoas' in the song. 'Homecoming' was done first with Noah Shulman, from New Jersey. He kind wrote most of the treatment, but we added our own spin to it. Luga Podesta went on to do our second video, 'How You Love Me Now,' and that was most of our ideas.

ATP: Did everyone give you, pretty much, creative control?

Cassadee: Definitely the second one more than the first one. For the first one, we weren't even sure what we were doing but the second one was awesome. It felt so much better as we were in our hometown and felt in more control. We were more established and the director knew we were in our comfort zone at home. There were some times, especially with me, with scenes with a boy and I told them I will hold his hand, hug him, but will not kiss him. They threw the idea out there, but I said definitely not.

ATP: If you had the choice, what would you rather be marketed to more? The pop/rock sounding bands like Simple Plan, Boys Like Girls or the other direction, like the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus crowd?

Cassadee: We felt like our album had a bit of both. By releasing the singles, we hope kids will like us enough to realize we are not just pop and not just rock; that we have a good mixture of the two. We would like to have both crowds but the turn out at our shows is definitely the more Jonas Brothers kind of crowd, where it's like younger kids, neon hoodies, but we are all proud of it, as they are the ones who go more crazy. There are kids out there who bring signs with ‘Hey Monday’ written on it, with lyrics, which is awesome.

Jersey: We are all fans of that music too. I don't think there is any style of music you won't find one of us listening to. It's like I’ll listen to Miley Cyrus, I love her songs, and Elliot will be there, listening to Queen. The stuff we like ranges so much. My family alone, like my 7 year old cousin, knows every lyric, where my 52 year old father will too.

ATP: Are you happy with all the press you've been receiving so far?

Cassadee: Yes, we want to prove to people that we are in this because we love what we do. I feel the pressure is all good.

ATP: Is there anything as a band already you might have regretted, or could have done differently?

Cassadee: No, speaking for everyone, we didn't think the album would of done as good as it has, and can't remember the last time we sold less than a 1,000 records in a week. It's weird because it’s just going up; we’re taken back by that. As far as the record and the campaigning, the tours we've done, we are so happy with it all and wouldn't change it for the world.

Jersey: It's all part of the album title, 'Hold On Tight'. None of us expected this to go the way it has.

ATP: How have you been dealing with the success?

Jersey: I can sit out there, and speak to kids all night, and it's not until you get back on the bus and think, you've been there all night. You want to give back to them what they are giving to you. It's not because you have to or need to; it's fun.

Cassadee: It hasn't sunk in yet, but it's starting to, every day that goes by. We are starting to get recognized in the streets and in stores. A few times I get choked up talking about it because it's crazy.

ATP: Where can you see Hey Monday going in the future?

Cassadee: We are going to do our first headline tour in the US, the 'Lets Make A Mess Tour,' and then going on an incredible fall support tour. Afterwards, we have no idea, but hopefully a lot of radio stuff.

Hey Monday's debut record 'Hold On Tight' is out now on Decaydance/Columbia Records.

Jon Ableson

Alter The Press!