Optimism can take one a long way. At least that’s been the case for the pop band with an alternative twist, On-The-Go. Well over a decade together and still standing. That’s not an accolade many artists, or bands, can say about themselves but they’re here and ready to continue to give it everything they’ve got with their upcoming album, ‘Unsaid,’ out February 28th. We talked about keeping things together, lyrical growth, and what’s to come for them as they introduce the world to a new batch of songs…
Kendra: When the band first started to take shape in 2008 did you think it was going to be something that went on for a few years or did you have a good feeling like this was a life-changing moment that would take you far beyond expectations?
On-The-Go: At that time, there was a feeling that we’re finally taking music seriously. We took playing together to another level, had our first studio experience, got a manager, a soundman and just started touring. We were full of enthusiasm and making plans together. We did not quit our day jobs yet, but we were anticipating that in some foreseeable future. So, yeah, we were planning to go as far as we can with the band and we felt pretty optimistic about it.
Kendra: Speaking of then and now, how would you say 2016’ ‘Origins’ compares lyrically and aesthetically to ‘Unsaid?’
On-The-Go: In the ways that we approach the songwriting process a lot has changed since 2016. I mean that right now ‘Unsaid’ feels like the beginning of a completely new era for us. With the latest album for the first time in our lives, we build every song on the album around lyrics, stories and ideas put on paper first, not the sonic and musical ideas. And it was quite a challenge for us and the method we were used to, but that was something that ‘Origins’ brought to our minds. And particularly one song that stood out on the album – “Two of a Kind,” written and sung by Max.
Right now lyrically our songs are way less abstract, I speak truthfully about things I care about and things I am not comfortable with and the whole thing is kind of therapeutic, to be honest. So, for me as a lyricist, it feels like I finally found the courage to speak out, not just to create some moody enigma of a song. Our sound has changed too and we knowingly shift towards acoustic timbres, we wanted to sound real and present, didn’t want to put too much complexity into our arrangements. We were trying to compliment the lyrical core of a song as much as possible, so the whole attitude is kind of ‘old school’, but we got there our own way.
Kendra: How did you guys come to work with Kate NV and Naadia on this record? Long-time friends or newly found ones?
On-The-Go: They have been around for a while and we felt we were connected in many ways with both of the artists and we all knew each other and lived in the same city. I’m very grateful to both Naadia and Kate for their input on our album. We never did collabs before and I must say we liked it a lot. So, hopefully, there’s going to be more of that.
“High” is Naadia’s old song that we tried to collaborate on before but it didn’t work out until now. It just surfaced once again recently and we thought it was a hell of a song and decided to give it a go with the new arrangement. “Happy” was just a demo with a guitar and my vocals, when I clearly heard Kate’s voice in my mind. It made perfect sense because the song was about mental health and how it affects relationships. So adding a female side to the story was a natural idea. Luckily, Kate was not touring at the time and said ‘yes’ to what I’ve heard in my head.
Kendra: Listening through, one of the most timely and profound tracks is “Happy.” Mental health issues have always existed but only in recent years have we been able to openly converse about them, but you look at them through a relationship scope with this track. Were these sentiments and thoughts on the matter something you’d been thinking about putting to song for a while now?
On-The-Go: It is true it’s easier to articulate those problems today and it’s very important to do so. Modern society continues to work its way towards removing the stigma of people struggling with mental health issues. These are the problems we face every day and understanding their nature is just necessary and I hope that one day the matter will be put into the school programs around the world. The topic itself was on my mind for quite a while, yes. I have been married for 13 years now and every now and then we naturally deal with different thoughts and feelings, it can’t always be perfect you can imagine.
Anyone can experience stress, depression, suicidal thoughts, toxic and self-destructive behaviour, jealousy, deal with childhood trauma and so on and so on. In a relationship dealing with any of these seems even harder because there are two of you and each may need to address these issues at some point. And be ready to seek help and accept help. It is a process and most of the time you work hard together to honestly tell yourself that you’re happy.
Kendra: “Unsaid” as a track is about the regret of not getting the chance to say something to someone before it’s too late. If you had the chance to perhaps talk to someone who inspires you musically that you never got the chance to before they left this earth, who would it be and what would you say to them?
On-The-Go: I was never into country music, I was never a believer, but somehow I feel a strong connection with Johnny Cash’s musical journey. I return to his songs over and over again for a long period of my life now and it is just what it is – an unconditional musical love. So speaking to him would be out of this world (and now it literally would be so). I would probably just thank him for the songs he sang and wrote and I would ask him what was his secret throughout his long career. In the end, it would be very nice just to hear his voice in real life no matter what the answer was.
Kendra: Over the years you’ve gotten to tour with everyone from She Wants Revenge to Foster The People, so are there any big tour plans coming up that you can tell us about?
On-The-Go: We were lucky to share stages with many talented musicians who we looked up to and there are plenty more we wish to play with so I hope we’ll continue to be lucky. At the moment we’re planning a series of headline shows to support our new album and of course, we look forward to our shows in the UK in May.