Emily's Army's Max Becker is No Longer Lost

“Don’t Be a Dick!” Words of wisdom from the mouth of new teenage pop punk band Emily’s Army. Influenced by the rich East Bay music scene, Gilman Street, classic power pop, and garage rock, Emily’s Army craft heartfelt teenage anthems dealing in cautionary tales, politics, and the pressures of adolescence.

The band members have known each other for most of their lives and discovered their passion for music together. From four-year olds hitting piñatas to little league baseball to surfing to collecting punk rock records; Max, Cole, and Joey formed the band in 2004 as Raining Souls. The name didn’t stick but it wasn’t long before inspiration arrived for one that would. Brothers Max and Cole’s 15-year-old cousin Emily was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis in 1998 and has suffered from the disease her entire life. In tribute, the band adopted the name Emily’s Army, which also happens to be the moniker for a fundraising organization in their cousin’s honor.

With that, the band went on to play shows, write, and record music and now have an all new release underway called Lost At Seventeen! Vocalist and bassist Max Becker discussed the new album and plans for the year.

1. So tell me about the new album.
Max: Way more emotional than the last one. It deals with the end of child/teenhood and a welcoming to real life. It's scary and real for everyone. When listening to it you're caught between two stages of life, not knowing what stage will happen to you next.

2. Is there any story or concept behind the Lost At Seventeen title?
Max: It is the last song on the album and it kind of speaks for the rest of the songs. Each of the 16 tracks has a relation  to that title in some way or another, so it's cool that the last song sort of sums it up in a pretty simple way.

3. Who did the cover art for Lost At Seventeen and how much input did you have on it?
Max: My sister, my girlfriend, and I worked on the art at different stages. I cut it out in a stencil and my girlfriend helped me get it touched up on illustrator, then my sister and I worked on the color and came up with "Emily's Army is Feeling". I loved doing the artwork because it came straight from the band's heart rather than someone else's rendition.

4. Who is producing the album? How has the producer aided the recording process?
Max: Billie Joe produced the album. He's somewhat of a family figure to all of us, and it's always super fun working with him in the studio. The main things we worked on with him were really honing in our sound and our tempos. He would give lyrical and musical suggestions that were pretty eye opening, but he ultimately let us make our own decisions.I'd say his goal was to make us have as much fun as we could possibly have while being the best we could be for that snapshot in time, and we certainly had fun…

5. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

Max: AS I previously said, the album deals with being stuck between two stages of life and not knowing what comes next. Graduating high school marks the end of a chapter, and marks the beginning of a new one. But would do you call that in between moment? We call it being lost at seventeen and scared shitless of the future. Everyone can relate at some point in their life.

6. Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)

Max: Cole and I mainly write the songs. We generally come up with the outline of the song and all the lyrics, and then Joey and Travis definitely bring some flare. I'd say it pours out of mine and my brother's hearts and souls and into the hands of Joey and Travis where they kinda do as they please. It's definitely a group effort, but ultimately cole and I kinda push for a view of how we want each of our songs to be.

7. Did the band have any definitive goals they were shooting for before the recording process began for this album?

Max: We wanted to keep growing and having fun, taking one step at a time! We just keep going wherever music takes us. I don't think Joey and Cole and I knew all this was going to happen when we picked up instruments in grade school. Travis definitely didn't see it coming, we just kinda grabbed him and didn't let go! haha. We just want to grow as much as we possibly can and let people relate to our music.

8. Are you using any new instrumentation you've never used in the recording process before?

Max: Nope, we kept it very simple once again.

9. When did you start writing for this album? How was the songwriting process different/similar to previous Emily's Army albums?

Max: The first song was written in the summer of 2011, just after our first tour for "Don't be a Dick". I think cole and I knew wanted to improve our composition skills, and you can see that with a lot of our new songs. Granted, we've gotten older and a lot has changed in our lives. I'd say we don't just do a random bridge or breakdown in the middle of the song anymore, there's a reason for every part we have in our new songs.

10. Did you feel any pressure to do this follow-up to your previous release?

Max: Yea definitely, but we were (and are still) so young that we knew as we got older we would hopefully be able to improve. I think we've definitely improved musically and soulfully with our music and that makes it really easy to take the pressure off. Now that we're signed to a new label we're super excited and have all positive thoughts.

11. Can you go into one or two tracks on the new album? If so, can you give us the track title and brief description of how the track sounds and how it came about?

Max: Ya definitely, I'll start with avenue because we've already released that one into the wild. "Avenue" is not a tricky song, it's literally about our avenue where we grew up. It's one of the simplest songs on our album and it has one purpose. In the last 17-19 years, we've changed dramatically, but that street has always been sitting there, listening and observing our lives. Through thick and thin, whether we're back in California or halfway around the world, it's there for us, and we can always have something to go back to. The next song, "War", was written by my brother, Cole. In my opinion it's the clearest, most well-written song on the album. There's a line that goes "I'm not anti-American, I'm not anti-War. I'm anti-hoarding, I'm anti-more!" that one line makes me cringe every time. The song starts of with a slight lick from the national anthem, and bursts into an upbeat tale of truth. My favorite part is when Joey and I have a breakdown mid song with just bass and drums. He totally kills it on this entire record, I wouldn't want to play with any other drummer EVER.

12. Why did you want to call the band, Emily's Army?
Max: Cole and I have a cousin named Emily who has Cystic Fibrosis. She has a foundation called Emily's Army, and right around when Travis joined the band we wanted a name that would ice the cake. We figured if we name ourselves after Emily we could rock under her name while simultaneously helping raise awareness for CF.

13. How does it feel to be a part of the Rise Records family? Are you happy with the results?
Max: We're stoked! They're super nice to us and give us loads of attention, which is really helpful for young bands. I like that we put a little bit more weight on the rock n roll side of the label along with Sharks, Bouncing Souls, and Face to Face to name a few. They're a kickass label that puts a ton of work into their bands, and we couldn't ask for anything more. Plus they're kinda funny.

14. What can the fans expect to see from you in the future?

Max: Hopefully we get to play for everyone that wants to see us play. They should expect to see us with smiles and jokes for the rest of our lives, and hopefully we'll be playing together for a long long time.

15. Anything else you'd like to say to the fans?

Max: To the fans: you've made us who we are. You give us so much support, even when we were a teeny tiny band with half of our lineup still in middle school. Thank you for being radical!

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