WSTR are a gritty British pop punk band that are making quite a scene. Hailing from Liverpool, England, WSTR are quickly becoming a rising name of the alternative genre. SlantedPress caught up with front man Sammy Clifford to talk about the band’s latest album, current tour and much more!
WSTR have been a busy band. With tours all over the place and teasing new music, the band finally released their highly anticipated latest album, Identity Crisis. Packaged as a typical pop punk album, your first impression might be to judge it as “another” throwaway album, but it feels anything but that. Putting fresh music out there can be a daunting experience, but Identity Crisis is an album that comes across as powerful and personal. With that in mind, I kick off the interview by asking Sammy if he felt the album met his, and the band's, expectations. “If I’m honest we never really go in with any expectations. We still feel like we’re a really new band and when somebody connects and relates to our music it’s very special to us and almost like a bonus,” he tells us. “The reception we had from people was quite overwhelming in a good way and we were very happy. Looking forward to seeing how well it’s hit back home when we go play it live in December. The songs are all very personal to me. Even more so than I realised when it was being written. This record especially came from the heart and unmasked a lot of different issues that I didn’t know were there at the time.” One of the songs that unmistakably stands out from the album is ‘Tell Me More’. I ask Sammy if he can Tell Me More about the meaning behind the song. “Tell Me More is like a lot of my songs. It’s about things going on inside your head, mental health, and not being able to open up and speak about your problems,” he explains, “I’ve since realised how much it helps to come clean and admit when there’s something wrong.” I have to say, those are wise words to live by.
A lot has changed for WSTR, but that doesn’t seem to be slowing them down. When I ask Sammy about how the band has evolved and if it has any meaning to him, he doesn’t shy away from the truth. “It has a few meanings but the main one is the fact that we’ve had a lot of member changes and never really been given the chance to prove ourselves and reveal who we are properly since day one,” he admits. “We feel like we’ve unleashed a character and a personality with this one and I hope it translates.” The band might have had people coming and going but one of their biggest changes to date was changing label. WSTR are now part of the Hopeless Records roster. Getting picked up by such a respectable label must feel like a great achievement, but I’m interested to know if the change took the band by surprise in anyway. “We actually spoke to Hopeless a long time ago and knew that they were monitoring us, so it’s not really recent news in our camp, but when you sit back and reflect it’s still a big shock. To be on a record label that you’ve known of and respected since you were a kid is still pretty surprising in a way.”
WSTR are currently on tour across the U.S and have just finished touring with Neck Deep. I ask Sammy if he’s been enjoying the tour and if he's had a favourite moment along the way. “Definitely the entire experience. There are kids here who have waited for us to come over since our EP which is super humbling to see them still there and keen for the shows!” he declares. “We’ve made so many friends the past couple of months that it’s almost overwhelming. Definitely a great time coming out with friends for our first time out here too. Felt a little bit more in our comfort zone, I guess, as the US is huge and can be quite daunting, I imagine. We’ve been out here for a long time, so we’ve had our ups and downs for sure but it’s definitely one we’ll never forget.” With the US tour sounding like a success, I’m curious to know whether we’ll get to see WSTR on tour with a few of our other favourite bands. It’s no secret that WSTR, or maybe just Sammy, are big fans of Stand Atlantic. Both bands have previously toured together, but we’re desperate to know whether there’ll be a chance of catching the bands on tour together anytime soon. “You’ll definitely have to wait and see for that, ‘the couple goals tour’,” he laughs. I don’t know about you, but I’m here for it.
It’s not often you get to ask prominent band members what they think about the industry they’re a part of. Following the mass recent allegations towards various members of pop punk bands, I’m keen to know what Sammy thinks, as a front man, of the rise of sexual misconduct cases across the alternative scene. “First off, I think social media can be a very dangerous place and it’s almost become a trend which is very wrong on both parts. However yes, it’s obviously wrong in any walk of life to abuse power if you’re in a band or not,” he tells us. “It’s just all wrong and I try to stay out of reading as much of it as possible, because it’s definitely not why every band goes into the music game and obviously it’s the same for fans.” Giving a reasonably safe answer, it's understandable why some don’t feel comfortable talking about issues like this, but it’s clear the lead singer doesn’t want any part with the wrongdoers of the genre.
Moving on to a lighter topic, we decided to throw Sammy one of our signature questions about which artists to check out. If you haven’t already noticed, nearly every interview we’ve conduced has a question focused on bringing greater exposure to more bands and artists. With this in mind, we go ahead and ask him about bands that are on his radar for us and our readers to check out. To no surprise, the first he tells us about is Stand Atlantic, then Between You And Me, Garden Slide, Hey Charlie, and Shaded.
Last of all, we wanted to know if Sammy had any advice for the many fans that related and loved their album. “I kind of said it before but don’t ever feel ashamed embarrassed or afraid to talk about your issues. Doesn’t matter if it’s a good friend, your parents, or even a therapist. So many more people go through mental health problems than you think and you’re really never alone,” he says, “I’ve never touched on any subject like this before because I was in exactly the same boat. I’ve recently woke up and realised that I should start talking and it’s helped me so all I can do is relay from my own experience. Don’t get too tied up in social media and compare yourself to others so much. Comparison is the thief of joy. You are comparing your behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. A good friend told me that.” As a publication that’s always been in favour of talking about mental health, we wholeheartedly agree with Sammy’s perspective. Don’t let music be your only outlet, talk to someone – it’ll make all the difference.