“We’re Finish Ticket, and we’re glad to be home,” lead singer Brendan Hoye said as he greeted the sold out crowd at the Fox Theater on Saturday, October 17 in Oakland, California. The Bay Area-based band is currently opening for the uber-popular Twenty One Pilots on the Blurryface Tour which also features Echosmith.
Finish Ticket has spent the past month and a half setting the tone for each night’s show with their stellar combination of melodic rock and pop, highlighting their energetic set with songs from their new EP and Elektra Records debut, When Night Becomes Day.
I caught up with band members Brendan Hoye, Alex DiDonato, Michael Hoye, Gabe Stein, and Nick Stein backstage for a candid chat about the making of their new EP, When Night Becomes Day, the “mind-blowing” Blurryface Tour, and returning to one of their favorite venues, the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, in front of their hometown fans next month.
The band was excited to be back in the Bay Area for two sold out shows, although they admitted, in unison, that one of the things they were looking forward to while being home was sleep.
“We drove overnight to get here, so we’re all kind of half-tired and dead; it’s all almost hallucination,” said guitarist Alex DiDonato.
Back in 2013, Finish Ticket released Tears You Apart, their independent full-length album, which garnered favorable attention with tracks like “Bring the Rain,” “Tranquilize,” and “Doctor.” They would go on to sign with Atlantic Records (Elektra Records’ parent label) in early 2014 and began working on what would become When Night Becomes Day. When asked if the approach to their new music differed from how they approached the songs on Tears You Apart, puns went flying. “It was pretty much night and day,” said DiDonato, which elicited some laughter from his fellow bandmates. “The last record, we were independent. Music was just like a hobby, really, when it started. It was just like, we love music, we’re doing music … because we just want to, we want to pursue it, but you know, it didn’t seem realistic,” Brendan Hoye elaborated.
He said: “Flash forward, now we’re like signed and doing all this stuff. Now, you’re not just doing music because you love music, you’re doing music because you kind of signed up to do music and you have to do music, and you have all these new people paying attention to you. It’s a very different experience, but obviously it can be very rewarding, but it’s so different, because the last record, we were super young, just doing it–just trying to figure out how to pursue music as a career. And [those] were just songs that came out of a bedroom or a jam session and stuff like that, and then you just turn it into an album and hope people listen to it. But it’s just so different [creating new songs] and you know there’s going to be people who listen to it. Not just people that we’ve already gained as followers; with the label, you’re going to be exposed to so many more people. It could not have been more different.”
One of the main differences the band cited between recording material for When Night Becomes Day and their full-length record: the lack of expectation.
“It was kind of our first opportunity to prove ourselves,” said keyboardist Nick Stein. “The first album was very few expectations, I think.”
B. Hoye added, “There [were] no expectations. No one knew us, barely anyone, other than like friends. … That being said, having [recorded the EP] now, I think we have a much better handle on how to do that with all these people paying attention to you. I think we’re way more prepared and we’ll be able to find kind of a balance in how to tap into where we once were when we did Tears You Apart while still being under that same amount of pressure. But for sure, the EP was a whole new experience.”
Even with the added pressure, the band had specific goals in mind with their new EP. “The main thing that we focused on is that we knew that we didn’t want it to sound just like our last one. And we knew that we wanted to create songs that would translate into even more of a high energy show,” said B. Hoye. “We learned a lot from Tears You Apart. Playing songs like ‘Bring The Rain,’ for example. Playing that one after recording it, and then it just became this new song that we had to rerecord; it was just a whole new beast of its own in the live show.”
But why an EP instead of a full album? According to DiDonato, making a second full-length album was the band’s original plan. However, while working on their new material, there were specific tracks that they found themselves focusing on. And also the fact that longtime fans would be left waiting.
“It felt like, time-wise, we wanted to get music out faster and an album would have taken a much longer time,” DiDonato said. “It had been so long since we had released Tears You Apart, especially for the people who heard about us before we got signed, that had been out for two or three years, so we just wanted to get music out really soon and then start going again with touring and all that jazz.”
After surprising their fans with the release of When Night Becomes Day in early September, Finish Ticket hit the road with Twenty One Pilots and Echosmith for the Blurryface Tour, which they have deemed as the best tour that they’ve been a part of.
“This tour’s been insane. We’ve come out to crowds of people like instantly crowd surfing, crazy awesomeness, like you have to start looking out for people in the pit, because they’re going so crazy,” B. Hoye said. “Just as an opening band on a tour, we never expected stuff like that. It’s been incredible … so many cities and [being] exposed to so many amazing crowds like that every night. And on top of that, Josh and Tyler (Twenty One Pilots) are super cool guys. Their crew is like the coolest crew of all time. And they’ve helped us out so much. … It’s such a huge band and a huge production, but to know that all these people are still so amazing, it’s really inspiring to us. Because it makes us think if we ever get to that level, you want to be like that to the people that you bring on tour with you.”
Drummer Gabe Stein echoed that sentiment. “Seeing that they run everything so well and every night is amazing,” he said. “Their show is great every night. They work really hard.”
“We know that it’s going to end and we’re definitely not taking it for granted,” B. Hoye added. “It’s pretty surreal.”
Opening for Twenty One Pilots has allowed the band to increase their fan base exponentially, and Finish Ticket expressed their appreciation for the “incredible” welcome they have received throughout the tour from the main act’s faithful following.
“A lot of [Twenty One Pilots’ fans] are music lovers. They don’t just go to concerts and see music, but they really fall in love with the people if you do a good job and if you offer them something that they can kind of connect with,” B. Hoye shared. “We can tell that we’re making really good connections with people at a lot of these shows. We’ve been going out and doing a lot of touring, but like this [is a tour] we’ve been waiting for, because not only are we being exposed to such big audiences, but we’re being exposed to this type of audience. People who [are] hoping that you have more to offer than just your music. Like, they can go home and they listen to [your music] and they really connect with it. It’s just been unreal. They’re just awesome. And they know it, Twenty One Pilots, they totally understand their crowd. … There’s a lot to learn from these guys and how they work with their crowd. They’re doing everything right.”
Even though they’re having an incredible time on the Blurryface Tour, there’s no place like home for Finish Ticket, who will be headlining the Great American Music Hall on Thursday, November 5.
“We’re pretty stoked to come home and play the Bay right after this tour,” B. Hoye said. “It’s going to be awesome.”
Bassist Michael Hoye added, “To play our crowd in our hometown will be really, really fun.”
The band divulged that they filmed two music videos–one for “Scavenger” and one for “Color”– in support of When Night Becomes Day before heading out on the Blurryface Tour. According to the band, they “will be released pretty soon.”
For more information on Finish Ticket, please visit finishticket.com.
Upcoming tour dates
10.28 – Sioux Falls, SD – The District – SOLD OUT
10.29 – Maplewood, MN – Myth – SOLD OUT
10.30 – Milwaukee, WI – Eagles Ballroom – SOLD OUT
10.31 – St. Louis, MO – Chaifetz Arena – SOLD OUT
11.05 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall – Tickets
Photos courtesy of Elektra Records and Kirsten Coachman.
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