For Our Hero’s Jay Taplin

For fans of Fall Out Boy and All Time Low, don’t underestimate the power of Melbourne pop-punk rockers For Our Hero whose debut album reached as high as No. 2 on the iTunes rock charts.

Having supported the likes of Yellowcard, Short Stack, Amy Meredith and Gyroscope in the past, For Our Hero have announced a national tour of their own this August.

Their latest compilation of tunes, a six-track EP titled Young Wolves, draws on themes of audacious hunger for your deepest, most desperate desires, encouraging the pursuit for love and to achieve your wildest dreams.

I had the pleasure of having a chat with their lead singer, Jay Taplin, in light of For Our Hero’s imminent National Tour they are to embark on this month.

Alana Mitchelson: Are you happy with how Young Wolves has been received so far?

Jay Taplin: Absolutely. It’s been really well received on so many different levels.

AM: One of your new songs ‘My Revolution’ seems to be about being someone’s strength when they’re in a bad way. What was the band’s inspiration for that song?

JT: Everyone will go through hard times in life and I’ve definitely been there before. The song’s about pulling through and realising you have so much more to live for and so much potential. With the help of friends and family that’s very possible, as well as just believing in yourself in general.

AM: And ‘The Brave Ones’ also had quite an inspirational edge to it. Was this a theme you were trying to interweave throughout the EP?

JT: We wanted to capture just how capable you are of doing great things even when you feel useless. One day, if you keep at it and keep strong, everything falls into place.

AM: I understand your brother Beau writes most of the lyrics. Do you bring the music to the lyrics or the lyrics to the music?

JT: Beau’s always writing songs and melodies as well, and Dave will write music. Sometimes I’ll throw in my two cents worth where I think the melody could be a little catchier. It can be a little hard to stick with the one idea because everyone’s gonna have their own opinions, but we always make it work in the end.

AM: Does it make it hard in the sense Beau’s your brother? Do you have the occasional argument over lyrics and what not?

JT: (laughs) We do make it work in the end, but there’s no doubt about that. I consider all of the guys like family but as far as actual blood goes, working with Beau can be hard at times and he’d agree. But we definitely love it and wouldn’t have gone through with it if we didn’t believe we could make it work.

AM: What was it like working with The Cab’s Alex DeLeon for ‘Young Wolves’?

JT: It was so cool to see someone at that level of professionalism working in the studio and his passion where he’d even be in the studio the night before playing a show.

He actually met my brother years ago and they became friends. I hit a point in our earlier days of starting out where I was unsure of the band and Alex helped me through a bit of a personal struggle. It was really inspiring and he’s been there for our band pretty much from the beginning.

AM: Can you tell us a bit about the making of the music video for ‘Young Wolves’? It’s only the second music video you’ve done.

JT: It was actually filmed at a friend’s house. The camera crew were really professional, fair and fun all at the same time. I think we started filming the second clip for ‘Young Wolves’ at about 7pm and we didn’t finish until something like 5.30am the next day. Then we had a show in Melbourne at 11am so we were all pretty ruined after that! (laughs) But it was so worth it.

AM: Wow, sounds insane! How do you like the acting involved?

JT: I’m always really scared beforehand (laughs). It’s no easy feat really, especially for someone who’s not a professional actor on any level. But I love movies. I just kept confident and tried to play the part.

AM: And for your single release ‘Take The Night’, I noticed it’s the first time you’ve incorporated female vocals.

JT: For this particular song Rachel Costanzo just blew us all away with her vocals and she’s only about 15. To hear someone with such skill at such a young age is just unbelievable.

AM: It must have been an absolute blast playing at Big Day Out earlier this year!

JT: It was absolutely surreal. To be honest we rocked up not really expecting many people to be watching us. But by the end of the second song there were 600-700 people so that blew me away.

AM: A bit of a random question, but your Twitter profile says you like to paint. Is this true?

JT: Yeah, in year 7 I was a bit of a nerdy guy, and was really overweight, and I just found this workshop which allowed me to express my artistic side. I used to paint miniatures and ended up winning heaps of awards. I’ve always been into really artistic things and knew those were the things I would do for the rest of my life.

AM: Have you considered designing For Our Hero’s album artwork?

JT:  Okay, I can paint alright but I can’t draw to save my life. I’m shockingly bad at drawing. I’m sure I couldn’t even draw a stick figure that well!

AM: How has your online presence helped your band establish yourselves?

JT: I think it’s crucial for any band today. There are growing opportunities all the time. It’s just about understanding how it works and how to use it. It’s cool because there are musicians you admire who you have the potential to speak with online, whereas so many years ago that wasn’t possible. I think it also allows fans to feel more connected to artists they look up to.

AM: A couple of years back you used to make webisodes recording your musical journey. Any chance of fans seeing any more during the August tour?

JT: (laughs). I don’t really know why we stopped doing them because they were really fun and the fans loved them. We’d just film ourselves out and about doing random stuff and being stupid. It was good because it allows fans to get to know us a bit more even if it is from a distance.

AM: I understand your first live performance was at a local bands competition.

JT: (laughs). We were almost convinced we were gonna win and we ended up losing by a mile! When we looked back on the footage, we were absolutely shocking – like so so bad! I was singing monotone, my hands were in my pockets and Geoff was sitting down on the drum stand at one point just chillin’. It was hilarious. I have never been that nervous about anything in my life.

Actually that wasn’t my first time on stage. Back when I was overweight, I was at Eastland mall and contestants had to dance to various songs for a prize. It ended up being between me and this little girl, dancing to ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’. Whoever got the loudest screams from the crowd would win. She had all the mums screaming for her but I had all the Games Workshop dudes who had these booming voices and let out this deep, loud “Yeahhh!” So I won this $400 discman and then sold it to one of the Games Workshop guys for $350 worth of models.

AM: What advice would you give to those just starting out in music?

JT: Always keep going. You’re gonna come across people who are going to make bad remarks about you, but just keep believing in yourself and push though no matter what. Always listen to your own advice more so than others. At the end of the day only you can tell what you really want and other people can only really give you advice and try to help guide you. Always remain passionate in what you believe in and you’ll be successful.

AM: Since your band’s name is For Our Hero, who are your heroes? Who do you make music for?

JT: My mother first and foremost, my family and friends, Patrick Stump has been a massive inspiration to me over the years, Alex from The Cab who has always stood by us, and all the people we’ve come across along the way.

AM: In the past you’ve stayed back for as long as three hours, after what already must be long, exhausting shows, to meet fans and sign autographs. That’s pretty impressive to invest that much time into your fans.

JT: At the end of the day they absolutely deserve our time. Obviously after a while we’re gonna get tired but they’ll get tired as well. I think it’d be unfair if we didn’t. I know artists with thousands of fans can’t sit there for a week signing autographs, but since we’ve had shows with 400-500 people we’d stay back and keep signing until the last person left the building. It shows fans we care and I think it means a lot to them as well.

AM: So what’s planned for your tour shows?

JT: We have a few pretty exciting things. I’m really excited about what we’ve got planned for one interlude in particular. It’s gonna go into one of our newer songs off the EP but I won’t give away too much.

AM: Thanks for your time Jay and best of luck for your tour!

JT: You’re welcome. Thank you!

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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