An In-Depth Interview With WALK OFF THE EARTH’s Joel Cassady On The Band’s Newest Album, Upcoming 2020 Tour and Much More!
On October 25th, the Canadian pop band, Walk Off The Earth released their latest fifth studio album “HERE WE GO!” (Golden Carrot). Weeks later, it debuted at 1 on Neilsen’s Pop Albums chart. This collection is the group’s first major release in over four years and first album in since the unexpected loss of their band-member Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor.
Along with new music, Earth has also announced a 23-date US tour. The all theater run, which spans over three months, will be an intimate and interactive experience that the band says will be like nothing fans have seen before. They’re promising that from the moment the concert goer walks into the venue until the moment they leave, they will truly be immersed in a one of a kind experience. (See full dates below)
Tickets are available now here: WEBSITE.
HERE WE GO! features the band’s hit single “I’ll Be There,” which has become a streaming sensation worldwide. Another song found on this new album is the heartfelt original single, “Mike’s Song.” It has helped raise thousands for MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity associated with the Juno Awards– all in honor of former band-mate Mike Taylor.
Walk Off the Earth has shared, “HERE WE GO! is a collection of songs about life, love, loss and straight-up kicking ass. Ranging from top 40 pop to organic folk ballads to EDM rise and drops, this eclectic album touches on many modern genres but still stays true to Walk Off the Earth’s signature sound.”
WALK OFF THE EARTH UPCOMING TOUR DATES:
January 21 – Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
January 22 – Sydney, Australia – Sydney Opera House
January 25 – Adelaide, Australia – AEC Theatre
January 26 – Melbourne, Australia – Plenary Theatre
January 27 – Perth, Australia – Riverside Theatre
February 12 – San Francisco, CA – Palace of Fine Arts
February 13 – Los Angeles, CA – Palace Theatre
February 14 – El Cajon, CA – Magnolia Performing Arts Center
February 15 – Riverside, CA – Fox Theatre
February 16 – Phoenix, AZ – Van Buren Theatre
February 18 – Dallas, TX – Majestic Theatre
February 19 – San Antonio, TX – Aztec Theater
February 21 – Huntsville, AL – Mars Music Hall
February 23 – Atlanta, GA – Buckhead Theater
February 24 – Chattanooga, TN – Walker Theatre
April 1 – Portland, ME – State Theatre
April 2 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore
April 3 – Richmond, VA – The National
April 5 – Washington, D.C. – Lincoln Theater
April 7 – Somerville, MA – Somerville Theatre
April 8 – Asbury Park, NJ – Paramount Theatre
April 9 – Harrisburg, PA – Whitaker Center Sunco Performance Theater
April 10 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Theatre
April 14 – Grand Rapids, MI – 20 Monroe
April 16 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
April 17 – Indianapolis, IN – Carmel Performing Arts Center
April 18 – Chicago, IL – Athenaeum
April 19 – Minneapolis, MN – The Fillmore
Learn more about Walk Off The Earth in the following All Access interview with their
Is it hard to believe that 2019 is just about over? I can’t believe it myself.
It is. It definitely is. I feel like it’s that part of the year where people always say that anyway, but I feel like it’s, especially for what this year has brought us with various unexpected occurrences and just the way that we’ve been able to bounce back from those and get all of our stuff out as artists do. And I am really excited for everything that 2020 has on the radar for us right now. I think it’s wild that it’s flown by, but we’re also finding ourselves more motivated and charged up than ever to bring on the new year and to keep things moving.
Congrats on releasing your fifth full length album. “Here We Go”! Can you talk about what it was like when you first got into the studio to start making it and what it was like putting it all together without Mike and his presence being there?
So the funny thing about our operation, I mean, there’s some bands that will sort of like tour and then they go in the studio. They tour and they go in the studio. And they’ll actually carve out six months or however long to actually get in and say, “Okay, now here’s our creative time. We’re going to start writing, we’re going to start recording.” We don’t really do that because we’re this multi-prong attack where we also have this huge YouTube thing happening and we’re always doing shoots that way. We do a lot of deals with brands and a lot of cool partnerships that way. So we’re always working on stuff. And to that end, a lot of the demos that we had in our best demo pile going into say, “Okay, we got a whittle these down into an actual cohesive record here.”
A lot of those demos, Mike actually was a part of, which was a wonderful thing because some of his parts that he recorded, some of the piano parts, some of the vocal parts, he would’ve contributed and stuff were actually part of those demos.
So it’s a nice moment for us getting over that initial, obviously the shock of the news and having to take a second and decide that we were actually going to move forward with the tour dates in the calendar for the year and everything, to get through the first bit of those and then to actually find ourselves back home in Ontario here and say, “Okay, now it’s time to look at these demos.” It was a heartwarming thing to revisit that and to have him with us through the process. And then of course to actually take it one step further and then write songs directly dedicated to him like, ‘Mike’s Song’ for example, that’s on the album. That was a truly cathartic experience for us to actually zone right in on how it felt to go through that.
I actually lost my mother this year as well, so I’m doubly coming from that place when we got in the room for that. But you know what? As artists, we have the fortunate ability when we go through hard times to write it out, for lack of a better term, and to get in and find that catharsis. And I think we are fortunate to have the chance to do that.
And then of course it’s one side of things for us to get in and do our part. But then to actually release it to the world and start hearing stories about … In the context of something very tough, it’s wonderful to hear from our fans. “You know what? Guess what? I’ve been through that too. Guess what? A lot of people go through this sort of stuff. You’re not alone.” Whether we realized it or not, whether we wanted it to be or not, it wound up being a bit of a theme of the record. One of rising above difficulty and banding together with those who you care most deeply about and moving forward with the strength of others.
I was just watching the video for Mike’s Song. What was it like hand delivering these instruments to those kids in honor of him and for this charity MusiCounts?
A lot of people just thought he was this goofy band-member of ours that sort of popped up in videos now and again, but he actually was a wonderful guy who was very charitable and he really, really, really cared deeply about a charity specifically called MusiCounts up here in Canada, that actually has a really good read on the country at any given time and which parts of the country are least served when it comes to government funding for arts programs and whatnot. And MusiCounts helps to take donations and actually turn those into opportunities for kids to get instruments in their hands, that otherwise would’ve had to learn music through a textbook or through an online course.
And that’s something that we never actually knew a whole lot about because he wasn’t the kind of guy that would flash study. He was involved in it and we didn’t really find out just the extent of his contributions until after he had passed.
And right away, as soon as we got thinking in that realm, we were like, “You know what? Let’s honor this man in the way that he was already doing and let’s actually get some money together, raise some money, and go ahead and surprise some kids who are in that very spot themselves.”
So it’s been an amazing heartwarming moment to really continue his legacy and to celebrate the man that he was in the best way possible, to just see the smiles on some of these kids’ faces that literally would not have had a chance to receive an instrument otherwise. I’ll never forget it. I mean it’s-
That’s really part of the beauty of getting a chance to do this, to have a platform like this to give back that way.
I also just watched your video for “I’ll Be There.” It’s such a heavy subject matter but also an engaging video, and I loved the freezing effect of it. How creatively involved were you all with that process?
Very creatively involved. We actually are nine times out of 10 with what we’re doing here. We’re again back to those bands that tour and go in the studio and then will settle the contract or bring in other directors and people to help them go about their business. We really take pride and have since day one, for being plugged right into the creative process, from start to finish.
We had been going around trying to get some initial inspiration for that one and we came across a couple of videos that had already implemented what we call the tableau style, the idea of shooting something in double time and having all the talent on screen stay really still and then giving you the ability to create this trippy tableau appointment, right? So we wanted to lean into that and take it one step further as well. A lot of the stuff we were referencing was just one look. We actually found a way to make it a little more dynamic by having that initial look, but then move around within some of those scenes and then reveal… You might’ve seen the one scene where the male lead is in the principal’s office and that he throws the chair towards the window. Stuff like that, where we were able to combine two scenes in one in a clever way, we had a lot of fun with. But the general topic of that one was one where we were talking about how this band reaches quite a wide demographic of people, and there are certain things that we have shied away from in the past because maybe some of the younger fan base, it would be a little too heavy for them, or some of the parents would want to shy away from that. But talking more and more about what we’ve all been through in our lives and stuff, and the fact that we all know someone, whether personally or know someone very close to us in the past, that has struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues. I mean, it’s very much a… That sort of thing has really entered the conversation these days. And then I think it’s getting more attention than it ever had.
Which is fantastic. So we decided to really lean into that and seal the deal. But by at the end of the video, saying that if you are someone that you know that is dealing with this sort of stuff, we actually created a website that people could visit and find resources in their area or send resources to that love one of theirs, that they may just not know how to speak to about this sort of thing otherwise.
How do you think that this whole album as a whole has really reflects the growth and how you’ve all developed as a band in general?
Yeah, I think like I was saying before about without even probably realizing it, a lot of the songs started to take on a theme of one, of perseverance and rising above difficulty and realizing who your true people are, your true friends, your true family are, and then how much love is around you is really tapping into that to find the strength to move forward. I think that really became a preeminent seat for the record. And also, I mean, the classic love song. I forget, I think G had said something like, “There’s three kinds of songs. There’s the love song, there’s the party song and there’s the breakup song.” But we’re still playing ball that way. We are, at the end of the day, a pop band. But I think in and around some of those sweet love songs and some of those the party type songs as well, I think we were able to slide in some of that more heartfelt stuff. Which we hope to be the case and we’re seeing the numbers, so it’s looking that way.
That we’ll reach a whole gamut of people and a whole variety of folks that are going through any number of those things at any given time.
Now tell me about your upcoming 2020 tour? I have read that it’s going to be a little more intimate and interactive.
It is, it is. We don’t want to give too much away yet, but we were talking about what we’ve done in past and we become known as this group that has this Maximalist rock show experience, and we aren’t going to be doing away with that by any means, but we also talked about the idea of… We were playing more theaters and how there’s a certain intimacy to those theater shows that that may not be there with some of the more more club show environments.
So the idea of doing theaters and the idea of giving people this experience that as soon as you walk in the door, again, I don’t want to give too much away, but walking through the door and right away you’re presented with, “Guess what? You’re going to help us decide tonight’s set list.”
“Guess what? If you take a selfie and throw down our tour hashtag, those selfies are going to be cycling our video screens throughout the nights. You can get a chance sort of like a jumbo tron moment.”
There’s things like raffles and giveaways. Now that we know that every ticket number can correspond to a seat, fun things like hiding stuff under seats or surprising people and catching people off guard in the middle of the show by saying, “You know what? Seat 23C, stand up right now. Come on, jump up on stage and you’re going to help us start this next song.” Stuff like that to really make people feel like they’re a part of the show. And the hope of course, is that people will leave our concert want to tell a friend and say, “You know what? I’ve never really seen that before! I have never really experienced that before.”
Literally, I’m here at our studio here in Southern Ontario, and all this week we’re getting deep into the planning of this tour. So that stuff is very on our minds right now, and we’re going to find even more fun moments to surprise people with. We already are so fortunate to have people almost every night send us comments saying, “That was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.” And we want to really just double down on that and guarantee it.
Where do you think that you’re all the happiest? In the studio recording music, on stage or somewhere else?
That’s a great question. And I think, back to the point of us not being a normal band, based on how the opportunities have come our way, thanks to being introduced to the world at large by the internet thing, I think it’s a nice healthy mix at this point. I think we go on the road and we’re so excited to do that, and then you start to miss the studio. Even though we have gotten quite good at recording in hotel rooms and recording on tour buses, because that’s how it needs to be.
But we go that way with it and then we’re like, “Oh, I wish we could have a bit of a larger budget to do a more of a commercial thing or more of a really ambitious thing.” And the next thing you know, we’ll get hit up by a brand. So we’re thrilled to have that, it’s a good problem to have. To have so many opportunities coming in at any given time. And we’re still trying to push envelope. For a couple of years now, have been toying with the idea of an animated series and that sort of world.
And I mean, the sky’s the limit. We’re not saying no to anything, so yeah, we’re having fun. Yeah.
You mentioned this a little bit just now about social media. I mean, it’s taken over, right? Our lives and everything. So how do you stay original and keep it fresh and continue to use it day after day?
It’s funny, I think just being genuine these days, in the same way that going live, doing a live stream creates this excitement for people that anything could happen. Just making sure, beyond all else, that we’re being as genuine as possible. That where people have told us for years, “I feel like you guys are just my buddies from down the street.” And we love that. And we are. We’re not a manufactured group that some suit showed up one day and put these people together. We just happened upon this wonderful thing and just went with it based on what we thought was the best thing to do, and the best music to make from day one. And we carried that to this whole thing.
Even just something as simple as staying on Twitter all day long, staying on Facebook all day long, and literally just getting back to the smallest fan message, that’s the most random question, but knowing that that person, once they see a response directly from us, that’s going to make their day and make their week, make their month. That stuff that’s so easy for us to do, that we know it’s going to make a lasting fan connection. It’s the stuff that I think we still really try to put a big focus on.
Do you ever look back at your oldest YouTube covers and are just amazed at how far you’ve come and what started it all?
Big time. We did a New York promo trip around the release of the album, that we were at Now This, and we they had us do a deep dive of our old stuff, and it was a hilarious moment. And totally, I mean, just seeing both, in terms of physical appearance and some of the lineup changes over the years and what not, but also yeah, the quality back then.
It’s actually a funny conversation because now that we have a bigger team these days, which we’re so fortunate to have thanks to how well things have gone, sometimes we’ll have to stop ourselves because we’re starting to overthink things. And then we do what you’re saying here, we jump back to some of the videos that really helped launch this group. And they were the least over-thought videos of all time.
We actually listened to them with headphones on and it’s almost crazy. It’s like, “Oh, there’s a huge audio pop click there and that wasn’t done right.” But you know what? There’s something about that as well that I think, that imperfection side of things also really speaks to people in that genuine way.
It’s not just manufactured, overly polished thing. It’s just what we wanted to do and what felt right at the time. And I think there’s a certain beauty to that for sure.
What do you hope at the end of the day, your fans take away from your music? I mean, you’ve spoke about leaving shows feeling happy and how that’s the best show you’ve ever been to and different and special, but really at the heart of it, what do you want the message to be?
Yeah, I think as much as this band has always been known first and foremost, as this group that can instill happiness and joy. And maybe it’s only because of what the last year has brought us. It’s a real misting for us now more than an outright. Of course we want to bring joy and all that stuff more than anything else, but it’s also okay to, back to the topic of the I’ll Be There video, and some of the subject matter that’s a little heavier. Life isn’t always the most positive and wonderful, bright and shiny thing. Life does get tough. And I think it’s about, at the mental health level or otherwise, being prepared for those moments and being okay and being ready to welcome things that are a little tougher.
And if we can help, especially help a younger demographic be ready or even want to talk to the parents or have their parents speak to them about that stuff earlier on, to know that life is wonderful and amazing and great, but life also comes with a lot of a whole list of challenges. I think that’d be wonderful. And that’s something that I think everyone could benefit from at a younger age, to have a bit of armor going into some of those tougher situations and be ready for everything that life’s going to bring them. Both positive and negative.