At Capacity

Another Year Unknown releases 'Love' 

Words: Shauna Hilferty // Photos: Elle Wood Photo

What do you get when you mix Blink-182, a mint green guitar, and an old love letter? Rumor has it you get Another Year Unknown’s latest single, ‘Love.’ Dripping with nostalgia and produced with the most 90s guitar riffs you’ve probably ever heard, ‘Love’ makes you want to be in love - but in a cool, coming of age movie. 

Following its release, I (virtually) sat down with Another Year Unknown’s Ashton Hammill for an interview, curious as to how this under the radar pop punk three-piece wrote and produced ‘Love,’ and what inspired their Super 8 lyric video.

Behind ‘Love’ :

“I wanted something that was slow, kind of a deep meaning verse to a pre chorus that gets you happy and going and then the chorus to be a fun, energetic thing. And that song, for some reason, like when I was writing it, literally flowed out in two hours - which is crazy cause I’ve never had a song come out that fast or that effortlessly. I just put the guitar rhythm down then was sitting there on the synthesizer messing around on it and I found the vocal melody for the chorus actually through the synthesizer and then it just clicked. I’m super excited with how it turned out. It’s actually something I heard - I got out of my head and onto a track perfectly almost. It’s a cool feeling to have that happen I’ve never had that happen with any song and that song specifically is really special to me.” 

When you’re writing at home versus in the studio, what’s the difference in the atmospheres? 

Home, I feel, I’m a lot harder on myself because I have a lot more time. I criticize every little thing so much more to the T. In the studio it’s like you have to have it done so you just kinda hope for the best almost in a way. You’re like ‘alright this sounds cool I think, I hope people like it.’ Honestly writing in the studio is awesome too though, I mean, the music’s loud, you have someone in there that’s recording everything so from the get go it’s right. I’m really harsh on myself when I’m writing at home just because I have the time and I get so in my own head with it. But the studio’s a cool environment just because everyone there. You’re kinda in the zone, everything’s clicking. The drums sound good, the guitar sounds good from the get go so when everything sounds really awesome from the start I think it helps you flow a lot easier in the studio versus being at home. Music is my one outlet where I can express and get my emotions out and tell people my story. I really love music and I think it’s something the world needs. 

You got to be your own fan. Everything I write, it’s stuff I want to listen to and that’s why I write it. It’s speaking my language and my message and I enjoy listening to it. I’m writing it for myself and hoping other people might like it. I think that’s what you got to do as an artist, just be your own fan first…and hopefully people jump on board.

It’s crazy with 'Love' though it seems like a lot of people have been really happy with it and liking it. I’ve heard people say it sounds a lot like Angels and Airwaves and Blink and those are bands I looked up to as a kid. I grew up in San Diego so Blink was huge for me as a kid. It’s so crazy to even be compared to stuff like that. 

What has it been like releasing  A-TT-IC and Love during quarantine? 

 A-TT-ICcame out out a month before “Love.” We had two completely different visions. That song is like if American Pie were to make another movie what would their theme song be. We wanted it to be groovy and funny and not so serious especially cause right now, there’s a lot going on and I wanted something that people could listen to and be like “oh wow that’s actually kind of funny.” It has that total 2000s pop punk style and vibe and I think we did pretty good with nailing that on the head. Just to get your music out you have to reach out to so many people cause you’re not out playing shows it’s so much social media engagement which is a lot of work. 

There’s so many people online especially so many amazing bands and musicians. We’ve hopped on the Tik Tok bandwagon just because the reach is insane.  With both those songs specifically with quarantine and COVID it’s a lot of work just to get the reach out there. At least compared with our last release before COVID, you hopped on the show bandwagon and started playing all the shows you can. Being in a band during COVID you have to adapt the best you can. 

If you had to pick on of your songs to go viral on Tik Tok, what would it be? 

Honestly, I really like how people have been using Love on Tik Tok. Just because where it’s at in the Tik Tok it has the pre chorus in there. 

AYU has been releasing singles as of lately. Is there a full length album in the works? 

We want to record a full length at some point but as of right now we are just trying to do the single thing until shows are coming and going. I think you have to be able to tour. I think that’s really important for releasing a full length album so you can play all the songs live. At least a single gets people by for a bit, you know a couple months. We have 5 songs recorded right now, total. Love,  A-TT-ICCan’t Hide It, Craft, and Baby. So we have three more songs to produce. Our goal is to try to have new stuff out every other month or month and a half-ish. I think that’s good right now too cause it’s kind of keeping everything fresh as far as the band goes.

What is your favorite lyric from Love?

Cupid’s bombs come crashing down this evening just because, for me, as for the video side it give me the visual. And that’s kind of how we came up with the album cover too. I wanted Cupid to be dropping a love bomb or whatever it was and I think it’s something kind of relatable cause if you really do find someone you love or care about it’s a sudden ‘woah that’s crazy I really like this person.’ It’s like a bomb just hit you and you suddenly really care about this person. I really like that lyric just because it tells the story for the whole song and what It’s about in one big thing. And the whole bomb thing goes with the build up of the song that’s building, building, building, till the chorus when it’s a big, fun, happy chorus where love is a drug. It overtakes you. That lyric also helped me figure out how I wanted to make the video.

If I had a second one it’d be “this lonely night in the hotel room” because in the verses I have the line in there just because I traveled all the time and I was gone and I felt bad for being there. It was like if you go to some town and it’s a crappy hotel and you get stuck in and you’re like ‘oh this kind of sucks,’ ‘I feel lonely, I just want to go home.’ I think it’s very relatable to a lot of people. 

What was your main inspiration for the music video?

I wanted something kind of weird. But not too weird. I was pretty happy, it took me a long time to make that thing. I literally sat on the computer for 10 hours straight trying to figure out how to do everything. Mad props to people who make lyric videos all the time cause that stuff takes forever. I love the handwriting too. I think it makes it a little more personal. 

Where did you get the footage for the eye?

We actually recorded it and it’s just a lot of After Effects. We had a camera and set up a buddy real quick - I think it was one of Chris’ buddies - and just shot it cause he had a cool looking eye. I wish I had a better answer for that, sorry. 

Are you planning on making your own lyric videos for the album? 

I would love to have someone where I could be like “hey here’s my vision” and they could run with it. Just because, for me, I do so much in between the whole website and all social media content I’m doing all aspects of the band right now. So if I could have someone to rely on to help me out with pieces it would help me out a lot. I want to get to the point where I can be able to focus more on the music side of it and making sure we’re coming up with the best stuff we can. Being a smaller band, I know those are the roles you have to take. You have to do everything and hopefully you grow and get people that care. That’s my biggest thing. 

Where did you meet Chris and Andrew? 

When we first started we had a different drummer named Tim and they [Chris and Tim] were buddies. I think they were in a band awhile back together and we needed a bassist. So Chris came in and we just jammed for a couple weeks and he was a good fit. Andrew plays in a couple bands local in Atlanta and we did a show with his other band, Close Enough, a while back at this bar. And he just killed it on the drums and we got to a point where Tim got busy so we needed a drummer. I messaged the singer, Brandon, from Close Enough, and I was like ‘hey do you think your drummer might be interested in just kind of helping us out right now and get us by until we can find someone permanent?’ And when Andrew came in, he added so much to the band as far as energy on the drums. Cause drums are huge. With being a three piece, drums are a massive part, it’s like so much rhythm and energy comes from drums and he killed it and did everything he wanted and it got to the point where we were like ‘hey are you cool doing this like, full time with us?’ And he was like ‘yeah!’ He just wants to play drums all the time so it’s perfect. That’s his goal, be a musician and travel and play music and it was a perfect fit and that’s exactly what we needed. I enjoy being around him a lot just because he cares so much about what he’s doing, just like I do with guitar and vocals, just like Chris does on bass. Chris is a really good bassist, been playing a long time. I think the three of us together make a really good group just because we all care equally about what we’re doing. 

Is your next song more along the ‘American Pie’ feel or will it be a little more sentimental? 

I’ll just give you two hints. It’s Can’t Hide It. It’s going to be a total fun dance-y kind of feel song. It’s got octave guitars and stuff like that. High energy, makes you wanna dance around, dating a girl, and stuff like that. For Craft, it’s a lot darker. It has a stay together for the kids feel. It’s got a deep meaning and this big chorus. I’m excited to see what people think. I think we have a good balance on the next three songs that are coming out of everything we’ve currently been doing and then more. 

Click the photo above to hear more music from Another Year Unknown - or here to watch the music video for 'Love' 

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