It’s a bit poetic to interrupt The Interrupters. “We just took a break from editing our next music video that we’re going to be releasing for a song on the album to have this chat,” says guitarist Kevin Bivona when he and Aimee Interrupter, vocalist and songwriter for the band, speak with HollywoodLife. The beloved ska-punk band – featuring Kevin’s brothers, twins Justin and Jesse Bivona – are in the finals stages before the release of In The Wild, their long-awaited fourth studio album and the first since 2018’s Fight The Good Fight.
The chat comes in an increasingly rare moment of free time for the group. The day before speaking with HL, the group played Jimmy Kimmel Live!, fulfilling a bucket list entry by meeting guest host RuPaul. They finished the first half of their North American co-headlining tour three weeks earlier with Flogging Molly. Two days after In The Wild is unleashed (August 5), the group will start a run of European shows, including a mini-tour of the U.K. Then, in September, they return stateside to begin the West Coast leg of the Flogging Molly tour. It all wraps up with an appearance at Aftershock 2022 in October.
Amidst it all, the album will be released, merch will drop, videos will premiere, and songs will be streamed on repeat by fans who connect deeply with the personal lyrics accompanying the energetic music. While anyone would be justified in feeling a bit tired by this, Aimee and Justin are anything but. “We feel like we’re in a dream,” she says. “First off, to have RuPaul introduce us last night, I’ve really felt like I was in some sort of alternate reality universe. It was a dream come true.
“I think overall the feeling is absolute and total gratitude,” she adds, “because we know this is a tough business. And not everybody gets the opportunity to do these things that we get to do. We just feel so lucky. We don’t take it for granted and take each day like we’re – we don’t look too far ahead.”
“We have to stay in the moment,” says Kevin. “Sometimes to our detriment, because stuff will start to pile up, and I’m like, ‘Oh no.’ And then all of this stuff, it seems really last minute.”
This philosophy of staying in the moment seems even more relevant following two years of the pandemic. “It affected everything,” Aimee says of the COVID-19 outbreak, the subsequent lockdowns, and the interruption of life as we know it. The group had gone into the studio before the pandemic began.
“We didn’t have a solid like, ‘This is the record we want to make,'” Kevin says, “because we had been touring so much. And then the next thing we did was like, ‘We’re going to the studio to write.’ And then the pandemic happened, and we had time to take stock of everything and figure out what kind of record we wanted to make.”
”In the meantime, we made a live album [2021’s Live In Tokyo!] because concerts were gone. We were like, ‘We need to have an Interrupters concert immortalized, so let’s make a live album with a movie.’ And there was documentary footage with that movie [This Is My Family]. We had to go through our childhood tapes of us growing up, playing music and singing. But in the process of that, all of the work we were doing and reflection we were doing did light this creative fire, in Aimee especially.”
“It was a very Dewey Cox moment,” says Aimee, briefly inspiring the universe to give The Interrupters their own Walk Hard movie. “I had to think about my entire life and take inventory of my entire life to do that movie. But in doing it, I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, I haven’t told my story. I haven’t really been vulnerable.'”
“A lot of the songs I’ve written,” she says. “I’ve sprinkled it in the last three records, little snippets of my personal struggles and stuff. But a lot of the songs that I’ve written for The Interrupters, I’ve made about other people. Like I had a song called ‘Jenny Drinks,’ because that’s about Jenny. That’s not about me. I had a song, ‘ Easy On You,’ that’s about somebody else. I always wrote about someone else.”
“On this record, I wrote from the first person,” says Aimee. “Like, this is my story. I’m going to tell my story. And what we realized in wanting to make an album, as we were writing songs during the pandemic, having all that time for reflection — I realized and that we accidentally wrote my life story.”
Though Aimee has never been shy about sharing her struggles – growing up in an abusive household, her battles with trichotillomania, years of self-medicating with alcohol – her music in The Interrupters has always had that fictional buffer. Even when making In The Wild, the group had songs left on the editing floor because they didn’t fit in with the overall narrative.
“Maybe because we were in this vulnerable state with the rest of the world,” says Kevin of those autobiographical songs, “but they were the ones that connected the most. And also, being our fourth record, we kept saying, ‘If we don’t do it now, what are we waiting for? No barriers, no nothing.’ And she addressed some very deep topics that she hadn’t addressed before. So, me and the twins approached the music with this like, ‘What could we do to serve your story?’ And it created this really cohesive process. That was a beautiful thing to be a part of.”
Plus, as Kevin puts it, the group had “the luxury of time.” With everything under lockdown, he and Aimee converted their home’s garage into a recording studio. This afforded them the ability to write and record on their own schedule. “There were no deadlines, there was no nothing,” he says. “We were just making a record. We didn’t know when it was going to come out. We didn’t know when we were going to go on tour. And it happened; it was very beautiful to be a part of.”
“And I got to sing at 3:00 in the morning,” adds Aimee, “which is my favorite time to sing, in the middle of the night, really late. That’s when inspiration hits me. And that’s a luxury that you don’t get if you have to book a studio and go into a studio at a certain time. For me, it’s like, it’s in our backyard.”
“I just look at Kevin — we’re married, and he’s the producer,” she says. “So I’d just be like, ‘Hey, it’s 2:00, 3:00 in the morning. Why don’t you make some night coffee? I actually feel like singing right now.’ And he was a trooper. He was like, ‘All right. All right, let’s do it.'”
The process succeeded with flying colors. In The Wild is The Interrupters’ most relatable, most resonating music to date. The opening track (“Anything Was Better”) is an anthem for anyone who has bravely left their hometown on the gamble of a better life. “In The Mirror,” the song the band played on Kimmel, is a two-tone triumph of introspection and introversion. Songs like “Burdens” and “Kiss The Ground” celebrate never-yielding endurance, of grinning after life punches you square in the face. The closer, “Alien,” will find purchase in the heart of any youth feeling out of place in their body, in their town, or in this world.
“Even with all the pain and heartache she’s singing about, there is this through-line of gratitude for the beautiful things in life,” says Kevin. “And being able to learn from these experiences and always trying to find the way forward through it all and—”
“—being stronger because of it,” interrupts Aimee.
“Yeah,” says Kevin. “As the producer, I really hear that in her performances: the urgency and just the emotion, and every song has such an identity sonically to me. It jumps out of the speakers and speaks directly to me. And I hope that everyone else hears it the same way I do.”
Chances are that fans will. The Interrupters have built up a strong following over the years, one that has been bolstered by the band’s accessibility. Even though they sing about adult matters, the group avoids adult language in their music and stage banter. “A lot of people tell us that we’re the only band that the whole family can agree on, from the parents through the kids,” says Aimee. She’s not wrong: go to any Interrupters show, and you’ll see all ages of fans, from the elderly to kids with their parents. “We like that many generations are connected to it,” she says.
“In my earlier music, as a teenager and early 20s, I was in punk bands, and I thought it was really edgy to throw in the F-word and to swear,” she explains. “And hearing the songs back, I’m just like, I just cringe. I’m like, all that showed me was complete laziness in songwriting. Im not going to say that for everyone who uses swearing, but for me, as I was throwing in F-words and all these different words to shock you, it was just lazy songwriting. I could have used a metaphor there instead of just been, ‘Yeah, throw the F-word in and call it edgy.'”
“Anytime I’m writing, and I have the creative desire to add the F-word, I think long and hard about how I could beat that with some poetry,” she says. “And if I can’t beat it with poetry, I throw the whole thing out.”
This creativity and authenticity have earned the band lifelong fans – literally. One element of The Interrupters’ lore originates from a show in DC. “There was a kid there holding a Hellcat records T-shirt that was too small for him, clearly,” says Kevin.” And as I’m playing the show, I’m two songs in, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, we played DC seven years ago.’ And there was a young in there, and Aimee was walking out of the show, and he said, ‘I love your shirt.’ And she took her shirt off and gave it to him.”
Yes. Aimee Interrupter is the type of kindhearted performer who would literally give the shirt off her own back to one of her fans. “The whole show, I was looking at that shirt, and I was like, ‘I used to have that shirt,” she says. “I totally was like, ‘It’s so familiar.’ You think you used to have a shirt just like that. That was my shirt. So funny.”
“He has now since outgrown that shirt,” says Kevin, “but he brought it to show us. He’s 17 now. And we were like, ‘How old were you with that show?’ And he’s like, ‘I was like nine or ten or whatever.’ And we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so cool that we’re growing together.’ And that’s something we definitely don’t take for granted.”
“Listen, I would be dead without music, hands down, 100% in the ground long ago if it wasn’t for music,” says Amiee. “Music has been my refuge, my healing light. It’s healed me. It’s been my best friend. It’s comforted me. And it comforts me in writing, and it comforts me when someone connects with it. And all of a sudden, neither of us are alone. We have found kindred spirits, we found community, and music brings people together. And it just feels like music’s so powerful. And I feel so honored anytime anyone says, ‘I heard that song, that got me through a dark time. I feel less alone. Thank you.’ Yeah, it’s the greatest gift in the world to be able to do that when music’s done that for me so much.”
In The Wild is out on August 5 via Hellcat Records.