The name Relient K has always been synonymous with some of the most contagious power pop/punk rock, tongue in cheek songwriting and feel good fun anyone could ever ask for. But since the band’s infancy, there has also been an upward evolution that includes tighter musicianship, increased songwriting smarts and a high-octane stage show regarded by fans at sold out shows from coast to coast. Just trace the progression from the band’s tracksuit wearing days on 2000’s self-titled release to the plethora of puns on their breakthrough sophomore release The Anatomy of the Tongue and Cheek to the Billboard Top 200 album charting Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…But Three Do (#38 street week debut) and it’s evident that Relient K thrive on raising the bar with each release.
Their latest offering MMHMM is no exception demonstrating yet another building block upon the group’s reliable recipe. “There’s been a natural progression from the first onto the second, third and now the fourth record,” notes drummer Dave Douglas. “The change has come incrementally with each disc. I don’t feel like we’re taking a drastic number of turns, but the direction keeps shifting for the better.”
The reunion with longtime producer Mark Townsend comes at a time when lines are being blurred between the post hardcore, post punk and peak emo movements, making Relient K’s original output level especially attention grabbing. Such sounds are amplified all the more courtesy of mixers Tom Lord-Alge (U2, The Rolling Stones, Oasis) on “The One I’m Waiting For,” “High of 75,” and “My Girl’s Ex-Boyfriend,” and J.R. McNeely (UnderOath, Project 86, Demon Hunter ) on the rest of the tracks. “I feel like with this record when we’re rocking heavy, we’re rocking heavier than we ever have and when we’re letting up with low key moments, it’s more mellow then we’ve done in the past. We’re hitting our peaks correctly and all the angles are really paying off,” says Thiessen.
As for the messages behind such sparse pre-production sessions, Thiessen turned to the basic root of his personality, a combination of satire and seriousness that runs the gamut between relationships, geography, faith and the weather. “It’s my personality to be cheesy and tell dumb jokes,” he admits. “For the last four of five years, I’ve taken all the puns I think of on a daily basis and plant them in a song. Besides that tone, this record also has personal ties. There’s a lot about making mistakes, failing, how amazing grace is and picking yourself back up.”
“Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” launches with a reflective piano arrangement that builds up with intensity to address life’s moments when everything seems to be failing, while reminding all that God provides second chances. The potent “This Week, The Trend” speaks of breaking through daily routine and living each day to its adventurous fullest, the spunky “Maintain Consciousness” is a colorful commentary on society’s need to be constantly stimulated by technology and the blasting “Apathetic” calls all to tone down their obsession over possessions.
There are also plenty of power chords that fall on the lighter side of the topical fence, from the brooding vibe of “Life After Death and Taxes” to the hysterically framed “My Girl’s Ex-Boyfriend” to the thermometer based teasing of the band’s home state (Ohio) on “High of 75.” “I So Hate Consequences” seems to build a bridge between the two writing styles, comically addressing all the times we make mistakes and try to run from them, but also coming to the realization that repentance and forgiveness are necessary components in the healing process.
“We’re not trying to hide anything with the songs on this record, just to get what we feel out there,” Thiessen summarizes. “We’ve also found it to be the hardest thing in the world to say ‘Jesus’ in a song and not be cheesy, so we definitely have our own way of singing about spirituality. But in the end that’s who we are and what we believe in. We hope between that and the music, it connects with someone out there.”
FORREST: vocals, guitar and then some
Hellogoodbye is all about having fun. What started out as a casual recording project in one boy's bedroom quickly became the most lighthearted rock-dance-roll band around today. They may not be able to sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves but they could probably bring a smile to her face.
Combining this happy-go-lucky outlook with good songwriting, interesting instrumentation and clever wordplay, hellogoodbye is sure that almost no one can say no to their brand of rock, and if not, there exists a melody that will make them change their mind ;).
Immidiatly following the group's conception, it was clear hellogoodbye was a blessed baby. Most of the songs were written even before the bands birth. When the crowds demanded it, a band was recruted and things improved exponentially. The foursome quickly learned their first words, took their steps and pretty soon they were a singing, dancing powehouse. Shows at orange county venues chain reaction, koos, the hub, among others came quick and easy and an awesome following began to surface.
The whole hellogoodbye production is as diy as it gets. All the music is written and recorded in forrest's home studio. The website has always been 100% band created and maintained. All merchandise designs, and even t-shirt screen printing is done by hellogoodbye's caring, hardworking hands. Mailorder, booking, promotion, button making, etc etc etc... all done in-band.
The live show lacks no energy. Each member is dressed in a smile (sometimes nothing but) at the good fortune to be able to play such fun music with such fun people at such a fun show. The keyboardist's bizarre signature 'knee shake with extended arm pointing at the ceiling' dance always "wows" the crowd. Goodtimes is par for the course at "hellogoodbye Live-in-Concert Greens'; sometimes water pistols are chosen over guitars, occasionally a well timed 'pantsing' instead of keyboards. Whether theres a beat behind it or not, something fun will be going on.
What does the future hold for hellogoodbye, you ask? A debut release is in the works, a tour will be scheduled in its support, and the band will continue riding their bikes, swimming and dancing like travolta. their following will continue its rapid growth with each show and a pleasing wave of rocking out will sweep the nation.
So come on out, polish those dancing shoes and let loose. Life is much to precious to spend unhappy.