An Interview With BOHNES on Releasing On His Own, His Latest Single ‘Six Feet Under’ and More!
Posted On 20 Oct 2017
Tag: Alexander DeLeon, Bohnes, Six Feet Under, The Cab
Alexander DeLeon – best known as the lead singer of the rock band The Cab, which was signed to Fueled by Ramen and Republic Records, scored Top 40 Hits with “Bad,” and “Endlessly,” along with fan favorite “Angel with a Shotgun.” Alex also wrote the RIAA certified gold single for Panic! at the Disco, “Victorious,” as well as songs for Cody Simpson and others. In his quest to create the music and videos for his new album, he traveled the world extensively in 2016 and 2017, documenting every step on his popular social media accounts (@Bohnes).
Now known as Bohnes, he recently released his new single “Six Feet Under” along with an evocative video, you can view HERE. The song, which is the first track from his upcoming album, was produced by Matt Johnson (Matt and Kim), and written with Bryan Sammis (formerly of The Neighbourhood). The single marks the first piece of new music for Bohnes since the release of “Middle Finger” in 2015.
The video was shot at the Nara Dreamland in Japan. The theme park, which was built in 1961 to look almost identical to Disneyland, has been sitting abandoned and dormant for over a decade. Bohnes and his crew, snuck in to capture the beauty of the decrepit park just before it was permanently torn down in the winter of 2016. This might very well be the only footage of the park that exists on film. Bohnes’ longtime girlfriend is Victoria’s Secret Angel Josephine Skriver. While she isn’t featured in this video, there is an upcoming song about her on his forthcoming album which she will be featured in.
Learn more about Bohnes in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What’s a song you are loving these days? What music instantly lifts you out of a bad mood?
Thank YOU! I know how busy you guys are and means the world that you took time out of your day to get to know me a little bit better. I am actually in the studio just outside of Hollywood recording an acoustic version of a song called “702”. It’s love letter to city of Las Vegas and it’s people. I was raised there and couldn’t be more proud to be from that city. It’s been a rough week over there and we need each other more than ever. I have never seen a community come together like Vegas has this past week. People were waiting for more than six hours to donate blood, for example. Just incredible people over there. You asked what lifts me up and out of a bad mood, and I would have to say that the people I grew up with there. Seeing them help each other, seeing everyone come together, those same people who know the real me and who helped mold Alexander before “Bohnes”. Those people always know how to get me out of a funk and lift me up even without realizing it.
Did you approach the start of this year any differently then you did last year? What have been some of the highlights for you this year? What are you excited for in 2018 which will be here before we all know it?!
I came into 2017 at about 300 miles per hour. I spent the first day of the year in Florence, Italy with some friends and a few weeks later went to Antarctica, which was the only continent I hadn’t been to at the time. This past year or two was all about finding myself a bit; reconnecting with my soul, and searching the world for every ounce of inspiration that I could find. I wanted to meet new people, experience new cultures, to feed my songwriting and creativity. I wanted to hear the stories of others, see how mine fit in with theirs, and what the similarities and differences were. I couldn’t be more excited for 2018 because now I get to take all of those stories and all of that inspiration and deliver it in the form of an album and live show!!! I feel as if I have so much love and energy to give!
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there ever a time where you thought about doing something completely different? What do you think it finally was that pushed you to this career?
My first music memory, and memory in general, I can remember clear as day; I was in my Dad’s arms and he was singing Frank Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young”. My father is my biggest influence to this day, and has always been such an incredible guy. SUCH an incredible guy. He is the type of person that is magnetic, a guy that everyone wants to be around. Everyone in his life has a better life because he is apart of it; they smile more, they feel more, they laugh more. I hope to be half of the man he is one day. I think that subconsciously I just wanted to grow up to be like him, and he was always a singer. His mother was also a singer so I think I was born to follow in their footsteps. I just hope I make them proud!
I always like to know how a particular city has influenced an artist. How do you think your hometown has affected the kind of music that you are making today?
Las Vegas. My city. My home. As everyone knows, it is hurting right now. It’s been a pretty rough week with all of the events that took place. But let me tell you something, Las Vegas is not the lights. It’s not the gambling. It isn’t the over-the-top hotels and circus show. Las Vegas is what we saw in the days following the tragedy of Route 91. It is the people standing in line for eight hours to donate blood to the victims. It is people sacrificing their lives to protect and save others during the scariest moments of their lives. It is the community opening up their homes to complete strangers to protect them and keep them out of harms way and to comfort them. THAT is Las Vegas. That is the city I grew up in. That is the community I am proud to be apart of. This city has not only molded my music but also molded the person I have become today. It’s all about strength, perseverance, and grit.
You were part of the pop-rock band, The Cab so I am curious to know how your life has changed since going out on your own? Specifically, how is your musical process different now? Are you still currently working with The Cab at all?
The Cab has always been and will forever be one of the most important parts of my life. What the band stood for, what we believed in, all of those memories will never go away. The fans and people that it brought into my life is something I will never be able to be thankful enough for. However, at the moment I just really need to figure out who I am and who I have become. It is insanely different being a solo artist because there is zero artistic compromise. One of both the pros and cons of being in a band is the number of opinions and creative outlooks but when you are a solo artist it all rests on your shoulders. If you succeed it’s because of what you did and created. If you fail it’s also on you. There’s a challenge that I love about being a solo artist. It is extremely difficult and lonely at times, but you can’t get to know yourself or figure out who you are if you never take a look in that mirror. I miss the boys in The Cab deeply and I am sure one of these days we will get together and create and maybe jump around onstage like old times.
I’ve read that you traveled all over the world in 2016 and this year to help you write the music on your upcoming album. What was that like for you? What were some favorite places that you visited? How did this trip go on to influence your upcoming album?
My biggest passion in life is traveling. People are always shocked when they say that because everyone assumes that it would be music. What they don’t understand is the symbiotic relationship between traveling and music. My music inspires the traveling, and the traveling inspires the music. I started touring the world when I was 17 years old and still in high school. I never really had an opportunity to live what some would call a “normal life”. We toured 11 months out of the year and I was so used to being in a different city every day that when I finally stopped touring for a bit I kind of had a bit of a freak out. I thought I would love all of the free time and freedom, but I realized that I hated it. I realized that touring and music had turned me into a nomad. A vagabond, of sorts. That was when I started traveling. There was a point where I went pretty deep into the mud, in terms of writer’s block, I wasn’t sure how to become inspired again so I packed my bags and took off. I started talking to people. Most importantly I started LISTENING to people. Taking in their stories, telling others my own. I challenged myself. I put myself in uncomfortable situations. I ate. I laughed. I drank too much whiskey. I almost went broke buying plane tickets. I ran my hands across the pyramids and jumped into the ocean in Antarctica surrounded by icebergs. You know what happened after that? The music came back. The inspiration came back. The happiness came back. I had a newfound love for people, for the world, for life itself. It was on these planes, trains, and ships that I wrote a majority of this new album. I put a piece of every single city and person I crossed paths with into the record.
What was it like finally putting your next album together? How was it working with producer Matt Johnson and writer Bryan Sammis?
There is no other way to put it other than saying it was the time of my life. Some of the greatest days I’ve had in a long time were in these sessions creating the new songs, the new sounds, and the new universe. To be honest I never thought I would be working with these guys in a millions years. They have written and recorded some of my favorite songs so to be able to not only hang with them but to be able to create music with them was simply a dream. They both are such great minds and are so different in the studio; both bring so many things to the table. We balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. That’s the beauty about musical collaborations, you take different outlooks, personalities, talents, and tastes just to throw them in a blender and hope something special comes out of it. It feels like a social experiment at times and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What was the inspiration for your recently released single, “Six Feet Under”? How did it come together exactly? How do you think this track prepares listeners for the rest of your forthcoming album?
I feel as though “Six Feet Under” was the perfect segue between the band and the new music. It has the pop element but also a bit of the rock element. I wrote the song with Bryan Sammis and Daniel Braunstein and it actually came together really fast. I really loved the lyric “pull my heart right out of the ground”. We all go through times where we give up on love. Where we feel broken and jaded… but there’s always the person who is able to change your mind and to make you believe in it all again. That’s what this song is about. Reuniting with who and where your heart belongs.
How creatively involved were you with the making of the evocative video for “Six Feet Under”? What was it like filming it in Japan?
The promise I made to myself on this new album and on the “Bohnes” project was to have my hand in EVERYTHING. I wanted to design and paint every single detail hand by hand and not leave my future and success up to other people. When you really care about something I think it’s really important to give it all you’ve got. Not a piece of you… not some of the time… but ALL of you ALL of the time. I put every ounce of myself into this project. I came across Nara Dreamland in Japan while going down a rabbit hole of abandoned buildings and haunted locations online and fell in love with it. I was so captivated, enthralled, and intrigued by something so happy, positive, and beautiful… something that used to have so much life and which brought so much joy to people. Now it’s sitting abandoned and slowly decaying with nothing left but the bones of the buildings and park. You could feel both the magic and the darkness in the air when I was there. It was tangible. Not only was it one of the coolest locations I have ever shot in… it was one of the coolest life experiences as well. We had to break in… sneak through holes in fences with nothing but flashlights. We had to run from security in the freezing cold. We could barely speak or communicate while shooting other than whispers and hand gestures. No pun intended, but it really was a roller coaster ride of an experience. I am still terrified Japan is going to block me from entering their country when they see the video.
How do you think being a musician gives you all the most joy in life today?
Without a doubt it’s all about the fans. It’s all about the people that the music speaks to. Inspiring others. Finding common ground with strangers. A musicians’ journey is never walked alone. It is walked with a small army, you know? The joy comes from meeting the people who have supported me and helped me live out my dreams. Being able to say thank you to each and every one of them. When people say the music has inspired them, changed their lives, or when they show me tattoos that they’ve gotten inked into their skin of my lyrics… it truly is the most amazing feeling in the world. To inspire and affect the lives of others in a positive way, in my opinion, is the single most incredible feeling in the world. We are all humans, and all in this together. I have been inspired by so many artists as well. One thing I hope that fans know is that they have inspired me just as much, if not more, than I have inspired them. They saved my life and brought me back to life.
Do you believe that the music being created right now will be greatly influenced by the intensely politically charged times we live in right now? How has it affected you as a musician in general?
Music has always been about freedom and self-expression. So do I think it will be affected by these politically charged times? Hell yes I do! If politics right now don’t piss people off than nothing will. It’s our duty as artists to speak on what we know and how we feel. We have a platform, whether it be a small one or a large one, and if we don’t use it to defend or speak for the voiceless ones than it would be an absolute shame. I think it’s important to use our voice. Whatever side you are on and whatever your opinion is you should be screaming at the top of your lungs and letting people know. That’s what this country was built on. That is freedom. I have a song out called “Middle Finger” that in many ways is political. It’s all about suppression and how our generation will refuse to be put in a cage and how we will stand up and fight for what is right and what we believe in. The world needs to fight for love more than ever right now.
What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
So many artists inspire me. I saw Justin Timberlake with his band last week perform in Nashville and it was absolutely incredible. Somehow he just keeps getting better. Chris Stapleton came onstage with him and performed a few songs. Hearing Chris, his wife, and Justin do three part harmonies was equivalent to the musical promise land. Those two guys really inspire me because they are some of the best at what they do, yet remain so humble. I really look up to Trent Reznor. He looks at music in such a unique way. Rage Against the Machine is a band that has inspired me so much. The anger, the politically charged voice, the heaviness and grit, the combination of hip hop and rock and roll, the r&b inspired, in the pocket guitar riffs by Morello… absolutely game-changing. These are all artists that directly helped mold the sound of Bohnes and would also be dream collaborations.
What advice would you give to a young person who is considering becoming a musician one day?
Work hard but don’t forget to have fun. You have to enjoy it. The truth is… you can be the absolute best at what you do and still not make it. It takes the perfect storm of talent, hard work, timing, and luck. Music should be about the love and the passion. Remember why you started and enjoy the ride. In my experience, the destination IS the journey. The failures, the grinding, the figuring it out are all some of the greatest memories and best times in my career. They taught me so much and helped me grow so much as a man. I am also a big believer in perseverance. The ones who make it, are often the ones who don’t take “no” for an answer. They knock on doors until their knuckles bleed. They get told “no” but are too stubborn to give up. Most people throw in the towel after a few failures, but if you can be strong enough to hold out and keep perfecting your craft then good fortune will come your way.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
I just want to make people feel something. Whatever that may be. Songs and music can be interpreted many different ways by many different people. If it makes even just one person feel something, I have done my job and achieved my goals.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I just would love to say thank you. Not only to my fans… but music fans in general. Thank you for listening to our stories. Thank you for allowing us to live out our dreams. Thank you for believing. Also… don’t be afraid. After the recent events in Vegas, in Paris, and Manchester I can understand how it would be easy to feel threatened or scared about going to shows or festivals… but we can’t let them win. We need music more than ever. We need unity more than ever. If anything we should be going to MORE shows and MORE festivals. The world is in need of love right now and music is one of the few things in the world that unites us all. In a world that has become so divided… it brings us together. SO go to a concert, make some friends, sing along until you lose your voice, forget about your problems and the scar world that we live in, and give LOVE. Show them that they can take away many things… but music WILL NOT be one of them.