It’s Against The Current’s second time at Reading Festival. It’s their second time playing the main stage. But where else would you put their beaming pop shimmer? Last time they were here, they came offstage and instantly started watching videos of their performance back, picking apart each and every mistake. “We’re still critical,” starts Chrissy Costanza. “We realised that when we say a show sucked, it doesn’t actually mean it sucked. It just means it wasn’t to the standard that we like it to be. We’re comfortable, and we take a lot of pride in putting our show together, but we hold ourselves to a pretty high standard.”
“We’re not that manic anymore,” continues Will Ferri. “That was definitely peak-manic.”
A lot has changed for the band since they were last at Reading. Their second album’ Past Lives’ was released last autumn and saw the band move away from their sugar-coated, pop-heavy punk towards something less jagged and more open.
“We were just flexing our muscles a little bit,” Will explains. “Showing people, ‘we can do this too’. We wanted to move towards a slightly different direction and incorporate some elements that people maybe wouldn’t expect. You’ve got to keep it fresh.”
How’s this year been for the band?
Chrissy: This has been a very developmental year for us. We feel like we’ve done a lot of brave things behind the scenes and for people to see. We’ve made a lot of changes. ‘Past Lives’ was a really important step for us and it’s going to be instrumental in where we go next.
Yeah, we saw you on Twitter saying, “what comes next from ATC is going to have such a different energy from what we’ve done before.”
Chrissy: We’re finally really developing confidence in who we are in our own identity and also a curiosity about our own identity. We’ve also just got a stronger ability to drown out the noise and realise whose opinion is important and whose isn’t. Ultimately it boils down to our opinions are the important opinions, not everybody else who’s around us. We’re able to turn more inward and ask, ‘What’s important to us? What do we love? What makes us feel like us?’
Will: It’s hard, especially when you have any success right out the gate. ‘Well, if that works, do we keep doing that?’
Chrissy: I want to make the record that we’re afraid to make. I want to make a record that we’re scared to make. I don’t want to hold back on any of the risks. I don’t want to think ‘it should be this’ or ‘it shouldn’t be that’. It should be full-on fearless. And that’s kind of how we’ve taken the last few months on. We’ve just been being fearless in what we do. If it feels like something we want to do, just do it.
Do you know that’ll impact the lyrics?
Chrissy: Lyrically, I think it’ll be about not being afraid to hurt people’s feelings. In the past, we’ve held back a lot on what we’ve said or coated sugar-coated what we’ve said as a way to protect the way people feel. But as an artist, it’s not cathartic for us if we’re not being completely raw, completely genuine and saying ‘this is how I feel’. I’d like to be completely candid and say some things that maybe I’ve been scared to say before. ‘Past Lives’ was way more raw than anything we’ve done before, but it was more introspective. It’s more about me. And it’s easy to write about me because I’m the only person that has to deal with the repercussions of that. Sometimes it’s hard to be completely open if someone hurts you and be real about that.
Do you know when you’re heading into the studio?
Chrissy: We haven’t booked out a schedule, but we did start writing. We’re right at the beginning but have started writing with just the three of us and no other producer or writer in the room. That’s really important because when we do bring someone else in, we’re going to have a very good idea of where we’re going, what we want, and have a really good foundation for what comes next, so it’s going to be very genuine.
For the past two records, you’ve ended up writing something like 50 songs before cutting it down.
Will: I don’t want to do that again. I feel like if you write five songs straight off the bat, there’s a reason why. They mean something. We just want to make the album, the EP, the whatever instead of writing as much as possible and then going through and picking.
Chrissy: The ‘Gravity’ EP we wrote and recorded in nine days and that record did so much for us. It still connects.
And you’re back in the UK later this year for an intimate tour following today’s massive show and your biggest headline show at The Forum. Why do you like to switch between little and large?
Chrissy: It just it changes the dynamic. It’s nice to reconnect with people. The people that really, really want to be there are the ones that are there. It’s that core, that community, that inner circle and that’s just such a source of strength for any artist, so going back to that is energising.
Taken from the October issue of Upset, out now.