INTERVIEW: Alt-Rock Artist Arrested Youth Writes His Story in Debut Album Nonfiction. Talks Opening for Twenty One Pilots, Working with Mark Hoppus & MORE.
Having just started in 2017, Ian Johnson AKA Arrested Youth has already seen a lot of success as an artist. He’s amassed over 100 million streams on Spotify and Apple Music, shared stages with YUNGBLUD, The Mowgli’s, Dreamers and most recently Twenty One Pilots and soon-to-be Waterparks, amassed over 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify and recently released his debut album Nonfiction (which was produced by the legendary John Feldmann) following two EPs. Despite the success so far, it would seem he’s only just getting started. Following that adage that “honesty is the best policy” Arrested Youth has been able to bare his soul and stories in the debut project and through his authenticity has created a supportive fanbase and has led him to sharing stages with legendary artists in the genre and industry as he already is planning work on his second album. He continues this genuine and honest approach in an interview with All Access where he talks being vulnerable in his music, how he wrote one song every day during the pandemic, what sharing a stage with Twenty One Pilots has been like and much more. Full interview below:
ALL ACCESS: Let’s start from the beginning, what is it about music that made you want to pursue a career in it?
ARRESTED YOUTH: The songwriting was always the driving inspiration for me. I loved everything about the process – the challenge, the artistry, and the struggle to find an identity within a song. All of it was a complete rush for me; it gave me a high like nothing else could. I still get that very same high every time I enter a studio session.
AA: You released your first studio album Nonfiction this past summer which is a vulnerable look at your life. As an artist is it difficult to be so open about your life and how do you handle being so open?
AY: I’m pretty private in my personal life when it comes to speaking with friends about my struggles, emotions, etc. So I’ve taken the opportunity music offers us as humans to be vulnerable and express ourselves. Songwriting and performing allow me to be vulnerable in a way I wouldn’t ever dare to be outside of my music career.
AA: Jack Antonoff from Bleachers described the emotional toll that performing such personal and sometimes painful songs each night can have on you and the need to mentally recover each day before the next show. How do you keep your mental health in check both on tour and off?
AY: I struggle with pain as a performer as well, but not mental anguish. I’ve had a pretty bad neck injury for about two years now, and touring / performing definitely takes a toll on my injury. So I battle through pain every day, but for me it’s physical pain. I’ve built a healthy routine on the road, which helps a lot. But you can’t escape pain as a performer – if it’s not mental, it’s something physical. There is a give-and-take in live music that you just can’t escape. It’s taxing, but incredibly rewarding!
AA: On the album, you have a song with blink-182’s Mark Hoppus titled “Find My Own Way” – what would your younger self say if you told them you’d have a song with blink-182 on one of your future albums?
AY: My younger self would be pumped! It was a great experience to bring Mark onto the song. He is a great guy and was a pleasure to work with. I just hope he continues to recover and get well. We released this song at a tough time, as you know. I’m sending him my best wishes.
AA: You are performing with Twenty One Pilots on their tour. What do you hope to/or has been the biggest take away from opening for Twenty One Pilots? (Performing, fan engagement, etc)
AY: Everything about this tour has been a takeaway! It’s incredible to see what they have built – from their fanbase, to their live show, to their tour crew. I hold so much respect for what they do and how committed they are to quality all-around. They are one of the best live acts in the industry and it’s not by chance!
AA: You’ve been writing one song a day, every day, during the pandemic. How has that been? What would you say is your worse and best song you’ve written during this one song a day process has been?
AY: Up until starting our Nonfiction Tour in August, I was writing quite a lot of music. I can’t say there was a “best” song that came out of it. But it was an important time for me to further explore my sound. Once my touring schedule slows down in December, I’m going to reproach my songwriting process and begin the next album. These past few months of touring have been so important for me. Our live show is going to heavily shape the sound, feel, and songwriting of the next album.
AA: If you could headline a music festival which one would be a dream to? What would be the song you’d encore with?
AY: It would be a dream to headline Summerfest. At this point, we’d encore with a song called “Dig”. But in the future… who knows. This next album will have songs dedicated to our future encores.
AA: If you could only listen to (5) artists for the rest of your life, who would they be?
AY: Choosing five is tough, but one is easy: The Killers.
AA: Besides the Twenty One Pilots tour, what else can fans expect from Arrested Youth for the rest of 2021 and early 2022?
AY: We’re about to announce another supporting tour soon! So keep an eye out for that. We will also be announcing a second headline tour this spring, along with new music.
A huge congrats to Arrested Youth for on all the success so far and a shout-out for taking the time to hang with All Access. To keep updated on how the rest of the Twenty One Pilots tour goes and to find out when that second album will be coming out be sure to follow along with Ian‘s journey through the links below:
FOR INFORMATION ON UPCOMING TOUR DATES CLICK HERE.