Luke McChesney of Forever Ends Here (Sydney) talks fresh starts, life on the road and crazy music video ideas

Sydney outfit Forever Ends Here are no strangers to the Australian pop-punk scene, so it’s almost a guarantee you’ve seen them support one of your favourite bands in the past few years. We recently got to chat with frontman Luke McChesney about their new single “Send Me Crazy”, what’s in store for the new breakthrough era of the band, surreal moments and playing with fire and baseball bats for music videos – you know, the usual.

So your brand new single “Send Me Crazy” just dropped. Why did you choose to release this single and what does it mean for you?

We took the whole year off to write and record a whole bunch of music, and Send Me Crazy to us was kind of the most energetic and punchy song that we had written recently. Since it had been so long since we released something we really wanted to release a track that kind of jumped out at people straight away with a catchy chorus and upbeat vibes, so I think to us it’s just kind of a fun one that we’re excited to play live. It’s just all about the vibes really.

It definitely has that real fun vibe of pop-punk, which is like the “classic” and jumpy feel you want.

Yeah, of course. A lot of our new stuff is heading towards a more pop direction, but this was the one where we kind of held onto our roots and has that, as you said “jumpy feel” to it, that’s still exciting to kids these days and still fun to play.

Do you think it’s kind of a new era for you guys and now it’s your ‘time to shine’?

Definitely. What we had all said to each other is that there’s only so many times you can tour around Australia off a couple of EPs, and at the end of the day we had to take that time off to write and make sure that what we were writing was absolutely perfect and the best thing that we could write. We even rebranded and came out with a new logo and hyped it up with a really exciting video clip, we just really wanted to convey that this is a step forward for us, we mean business and we’re here to stay.

Obviously you’ve been pleased with the response of the single?

Of course, we’re absolutely loving it. It’s always a nerve racking thing, because we’re so used to hearing it in the studio and playing it in the practice room that we’re immune to the song. It’s not new and exciting to us anymore so it’s really interesting to see what are always going to think of it when you release it. The YouTube views went up quickly, the response has been absolutely awesome and we’ve had people messaging us saying they love it, fans tweeting us every day saying they love it which is awesome to hear. It makes it all worth it.

The music video for the song is…dark to say the least! What made you want to do a video that showed a literal meaning behind the song?

(Laughs) I guess the video was more of as I said before, really wanting to come back with a punch. You can always do your standard video with the white screen in the background and the band playing instruments, but we kind of wanted to do something a bit controversial and get people talking. So we thought, ‘Hey, here’s a band going in more of a pop direction that has just released a video clip with a whole bunch of fire and baseball bats.’ The producer we worked with is incredible, and a lot of the videos he has done before is in that kind of style so it was really in his element, which is what I think made it come to life and gave it that slightly darker feel.

Even with this track and your previous songs, it’s obvious you have a strong influence from pop-punk heavyweights such as All Time Low, Blink-182 and Simple Plan. How have these bands influenced and inspired you for what you produce now?

I think back in the day, every 13 year old grows up listening to All Time Low and goes “I want to be All Time Low, I want to play their songs and I want to become them.” I think the difference between then and now was back then – I’m not going to say we copied them – we didn’t rip off their melodies or anything, but it was very much that we wanted to kind of take over what they were doing and keep that going.

I think now we’ve grown up a bit and found our sound. Now instead of doing what they’re doing, we’ve just kind of taken influence from the parts of songs from bands like Blink-182, All Time Low and Green Day, and kind of mixed it into what we feel is our own. I think with a lot of the new songs we’ve written as well people will be quite shocked to hear due to kind of influence we’ve had on it ourselves. It is very much a new sound for us, and something hopefully now will stick as the Forever Ends Here sound.

Even my next question was going to be how you think your music has progressed throughout your time as a band, and obviously you have this new sound coming about.

I think the best way of describing it, I mean every band says it and it sounds cliché, but I think it’s just more mature. A lot of the new songs we’ve written actually have a bit of synth in them, the verses are a lot stripped back and we’ve really focused on making sure the vocal melodies were super catchy.

I think a lot in the past and the biggest thing I’ve learnt with songwriting is that writing a simple catchy song is actually a lot harder than writing a tricky song. I think back in the day, I used to go “Yeah, if I write all these tricky melodies and if there are some fast movements in here that will sound cool” whereas now I’ve kind of gone, “You know what, I need to take the time to write a melody that’s really going to get stuck in someone’s head and catch on”, and I think that’s definitely changed us for the better.

That’s really similar to what Tame Impala said at the ARIAS last night, where it’s easier to write a tricky song rather than something that’s more stripped back.

Yeah of course, and it’s something that you never really learn straight away with musicianship. It takes a while with song writing before you figure that out, but it’s definitely good to have that skill now.

I remember seeing you guys on the line up for any gig I would go to, you’ve toured with the likes of Short Stack, Tonight Alive, Hands Like Houses and even international bands such as State Champs (US) which is incredible. What’s your favourite thing about being able to hit the road so often with so many amazing bands?

I think everyone says it but the friends you make in the music industry, it’s just something you never forget. I mean, I grew up listening to Short Stack when I was 11 and 12, and if I went back in time and told 11 or 12 year old me that I’d go on tour with them and become best mates with them I would never believe that. I think that it’s just cool that you kind of build up that certain mutual respect from other musicians. You go on tour and no band is going to go “Oh, these guys are my support band so I’m superior to them” Every band goes “Hey, these are the guys we’re touring with, these are the guys we’re spending the next 3 weeks straight with, let’s hang out and be mates.”

I still keep in touch with State Champs a lot, I still keep in touch with Short Stack and Hands Like Houses. Every single band we’ve toured with we’ve held a great friendship with, and I think that’s probably my favourite part about being in a band actually.

Do you have a favourite memory from being on tour?

There’s so many! You know what, the State Champs tour was a lot of fun. A lot of the time we ended up being with them and the 5 Seconds of Summer boys a lot because they were on tour together as well. I think one of the really cool parts about being on tour was when your tour overlaps with another tour, because essentially you then merge two whole groups of friends and two whole sets of stories to share. When you’re on a tour with a band, you don’t really talk about the shows much because you’ve all been there, you all know exactly what’s happened. Whereas when you catch up with another band, everyone goes “How was your show?”

So I think it’s not so much as one particular memory of “this happened”, or “this happened”, It’s just the fact that when we catch up with other bands and other people, the vibes are there. I think we remember the years collectively as a whole of touring as just a fun time.

You’re going on tour with US band Never Shout Never really soon, can you tell us a bit more about that?

That tour is kind of an exciting thing for us and we haven’t toured in a while. We did the State Champs tour, but that was only Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The Never Shout Never tour is the first time we will be hitting Perth in about 2 years, and it’s the first time we’ve played 6 shows in 6 days as well. I know that sounds crazy in comparison to all the bands that do Warped Tour and stuff (laughs) but its more shows than we’re used to playing on tours, and of course being with a band with credibility like Never Shout Never is crazy.

I mean, everyone’s been texting us going “Oh my god, that’s my childhood dream, I love Never Shout Never, no way you’re touring with them!” So it will be cool to watch them every night and see what they’re all about, and I think it’s kind of a nostalgia trip for everyone. I mean, everyone kind of grew up listening to Never Shout Never, so it will be an exciting thing to tour with them and see how everyone goes with it.

One thing I’ve noticed throughout the years is how rapidly your popularity has grown, thanks to your strong online presence. How does it feel to be able to see your fan base constantly grown through social media?

To be honest, it’s very surreal. I think sometimes I still hasn’t even sunken in. I think that we struck very lucky the time that we came into the scene; when I was going to local shows just as a fan, we would always go and watch bands like Tonight Alive, Heroes For Hire and The Never Ever and I think as our band started releasing music, all those bands either took off into the larger scene like Tonight Alive who are touring the world now, or ended up splitting and forming new bands or something. I think we were just lucky that either we had that gap in the music scene where people were looking for a new band to get into, but it’s crazy overwhelming.

I mean, the first headline tour we did for our second EP ‘Where I’d Rather Be’ was a big risk putting it on. We asked ourselves if we could actually pull off a headline tour, and our booking agent said to us “Here’s the venues you’re doing” and I remember all of us coming back and saying “Nah, don’t do that, it’s too big, we can’t sell that venue”, and then we got a call three weeks later saying “You’ve sold out the whole tour”.

So yeah, I think it’s absolutely insane to get to a show and see a huge line of people waiting out the front to meet us because to us, we’re just normal guys. We’re just fans of music ourselves, so to be on the other side of that and to have people looking up to us is an awesome feeling and we will never take it for granted at all.

I remember last year when you did your little acoustic tour in Melbourne everyone going “I can see them! They’re coming!” It was so surreal to see the fans have that feeling of getting so excited.

That day, I think still for all of us, is up there in one of our 5 favourite days ever. I don’t even know what it was that made so many people come to watch us. We woke up that day just think “We’re off to a park to play some acoustics. Maybe we will play to 50 fans, maybe we’ll meet a few people I suppose, so it will be cool” and we got there and someone was like, “Oh, they’re coming!” and we were like “Cool, someone’s spotted us. Hey, how are ya?” and then all of a sudden it was just like being deafened by fans. I think we counted there were around 412 people that came to see us that day. I mean, I had family over in New Zealand texting me saying “Right…so I didn’t realize how big your band is!”

That seems like such a big wake up call.

Oh, it was definitely a massive wakeup call for us, and definitely one of the most overwhelming and humbling days we’ve had for the band for sure.

I remember seeing this girl write something with a sharpie on the power box and I was like, “Wow, she’s really getting it into it!”

(Laughs) Yes! We were like “Don’t get arrested, please!”

Now I’m going to ask the obligatory interview question – what do you guys have in store for the future?

You know what, it’s actually exciting because we haven’t had this question in so long because we’ve been off the radar a bit. I can’t give away too much obviously, but I mean it’s clear that when you take a year off, we’re obviously working behind the scenes and there’s obviously a lot that we’ve done. I can’t really say exactly what it is, but I can say that it’s a huge step up from everything we’ve done before. We’ve really taken the next step. I guess our mindset was “Let’s throw all our cards at all the wall, and make everything happen that we can”.

This year I know we’ve been quiet and we’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes, but next year I think in the public eye is going to be the year of Forever Ends Here; the year that we’re really going to punch out and try and make everything happen. We’re going to hit the road as much as we can because we really miss touring so we’re excited to hit the road in December, but I think next year is just a “Let’s go as many places as we can, meet as many people as we can” and release a whole bunch of new music so we can play these shows and fans can be excited to hear something new.

I think it’s a new Forever Ends Here really, it’s a new era. We’ve got a new logo, new merch, new music, new songs to play on tour; we’ve got a whole new set, we’re playing new covers. I think everything is just a big step up, and it’s going to be a really exciting year for us, for sure.

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“Send Me Crazy” is available now. You can catch Forever Ends Here on tour with Never Shout Never (US) throughout December:

Wednesday 2nd December – The Brightside, Brisbane (18+)
Friday 4th December – The Factory Theatre, Sydney (18+)
Saturday 5th December – The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
Sunday 6th December – The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne (AA)
Wednesday 9th December – Fowlers Live, Adelaide (Lic/AA)
Thursday 10th December – The Rosemount, Perth (18+)

Grab your tickets here.