A Great Big World chats everything from their new record to their new musical!

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It’s been a minute since Ian Axel and Chad King of A Great Big World have been on the road and with their new tour starting on March 1st, in Toronto they couldn’t be more excited to get on the road. Their sophomore record, When The Morning Comes, dropped in November and they’ve only played live the songs maybe twice. Coming off a smash first album including the incredibly popular track Say Something (the music video for Say Something is at 264  million plays alone on Youtube as of print) , there was a lot of pressure on the band for this record and they succeeded at the task with flying colors.

The duo have been writing together for several years not only for A Great Big World but also for a musical they’ve been working on for around for years now. I also cherish interviews with songwriters and Axel and King are two of the greatest around. Read below for our new interview and catch them here in Boston March 6th with opener Secret Weapons!


 What are the three touring essentials you must have on the road with you to survive?

Ian: I’m going to need my iPad so I can fall asleep to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt at night on the tour bus. I’m going to need my toothbrush and I will need a clean pair of underwear. Just one!

Chad: I have a mini Lumio, it’s like a book lamp. So definitely that for reading in the bunk in the bus like Ian talked about before. Having something to do in the bunk. . I have to travel with ear plugs because I’m a light sleeper. I’m most concerned about sleeping so I’m also going to say lavender oil because that helps me fall asleep as well.

Then the new record, it’s been out since November. Maybe how do you feel it’s been going over as the follow up? How do you think fans are taking it?

Chad: I think it’s going over really well. Obviously the reaction from our fans has been really, really great. We haven’t performed any of these songs really live at all. Just two times. It’s interesting putting out a record and then not touring immediately. So I think we’re really eager to start this tour because we really want to connect with our fans again. It’s been so long. We’re so proud of this album. More and more people are getting turned on to it and we think it’s just the beginning.

And I know you guys have been writing together for several years. Be it A Great Big World but also a musical that you’ve been working on. Maybe how did the songwriting go for this record? Was it something where it was all songs you wrote fresh for this album, were some maybe songs that you pulled from the past? How did you go about the writing selection for this record?

Chad: So for this record, we had a very limited time to write it. We had about three months to write it. Three months to record it. But when we went into it, it was very much how do we top Say Something? It put us into the pop world so we were put into rooms with a lot of pop writers who were certain that they knew the sound we should go with in order to beat Say Something. To top it and we kind of went with it for a second and then realized soon after though that it wasn’t our past. It didn’t feel like us. It didn’t feel honest and we had to get back to why we’re doing music in the first place. It’s much more fulfilling to our souls for my soul and Ian’s soul then I think any of the stuff we were trying to do. A little bit more manufactured.

Ian: Yeah a lot of people understandably try to write a hit song. I’m not going to lie and tell you that we haven’t done that with that intention before but it’s not fulfilling at all. I mean it’s fulfilling if you’re having fun and if it’s an honest song but I don’t want that to be our first intention in writing a song. A big intention of ours is to reach as many people as possible. So that may be kind of in the same category as just writing the songs that we need to write. Just being as honest and vulnerable as we can. That’s how we’ve connected in the past. That’s how we connected with Say Something and that’s how we’re continuing to connect since then.

And you talked about how these are songs that you’ve really only played about twice maybe each and you’re about to do this tour that starts on the 1st. Is that going to kind of be the focus of these dates that you’re playing this first tour? How do you plan on going about these sets, is it going to be mostly the new record?

Ian: Yeah, I think we’re going to have the whole record prepared. We’re definitely going to be mixing in some of the last record. Until we kind of find a rhythm but it takes a second to really embody the new stuff. It’s still new to us because the instrumentation is different. The whole stage set up is different. We’re trying to recreate these really big production sounds. It’s new. We’re excited. We feel like a new band. We feel like we’re kind of doing this for the first time again which is refreshing and terrifying. But yeah, it’s definitely going to be a mix. It’s really great to be able to change up our set now because we only ever had the one record to play music from. We get to play longer sets and it’s going to be different every night.

Perfect then maybe a kind of different one for you. The first CD or first cassette you both can remember getting as a kid then the first concert you remember going to?

Ian: The first two CD’s that I bought were together. I bought them at Barnes & Noble with my family and it was Michael Jackson’s Dangerous and The Beauty and the Beast soundtrack. Then my first concert was Yanni.

I love it.

Chad: I can’t remember if my first one  was Amy Grant, her Christmas album or the Lion King soundtrack. Then my first concert I ever went to was Sum 41. I was trying to be a skater and I remember being in the mosh pit and getting all bruised up. Then realizing that this wasn’t for me.

Ian: Oh I used to do that stuff. In high school. I grew up in New Jersey so I was going to see a lot of ska. I would go to all these random shows at these firehouses and see like Reel Big Fish and Catch 22. I was definitely in the mosh pit and I got knocked in the head a lot as well.

And then to end it off, obviously a lot is announced. You have this tour that’s quite a long tour. Kind of what’s the plan for A Great Big World in the next few months, maybe 2016? Are you going to go back out on the road, maybe internationally?

Chad: We’re looking at some summer tour opportunities right now. So hopefully we’ll be on the road a lot of the summer. Before the summer, Ian and I are putting together a show in New York City of all the music from our musical that we’re writing. It’s going to be the first time anyone is hearing this musical that we’ve been working on for three and a half, maybe four years.

That’s amazing so you’re going to have a show where you perform all the material?

Chad: Yeah it’s going to be our band performing it with some special guests. Right now, we probably have over an hour of just solid straight music. All new music. So it’s definitely exciting. What a crazy thing to do. Write a musical. We had no idea what it meant. It was like oh we’re going to do this thing, it’s going to take us a couple months. But now it’s become our own little baby.

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Colleen has been writing about music since 2009. Interviewing bands since the glory days of Warped and has continued to do so for now over fourteen years. As well as doing freelance for other publications, the love for everything rock continues today.

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