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Interview: Nick Barker of Love Like Fiction Discusses New Single, “Misery Maintenance”

Love Like Fiction packs modern pop-punk, throwback dance grooves, and timeless subject matter into an emotionally raw, yet wholly accessible sound. Founded in summer 2018 by drummer Tara Goltz and guitarist Marin Bridges, the Phoenix, Arizona quintet would go on to support fellow pop-punk veterans Sum 41 and SWMRS, as well as receive a boost in recognition from their placement on high-profile Spotify playlists Crash Course and New Punk Tracks. The band is also signed with indie label 80/20 Records, and, as of last week, released their new single “Misery Maintenance,” which will be included on their upcoming EP, New Nostalgia.

I caught up with lead vocalist Nick Barker to discuss the band’s formation, the new single, and the idea for their sophomore EP.

In July 2018, when the band came together, what was it that resulted in the lineup you have now?

That was actually quite the process. It started off with just Tara and Marin, and essentially, they went through a long process trying to find the right members. After a while, they found Frankie [Stapley] through a Facebook post, while continuing to look for a lead vocalist and bassist for some time. Toward the end of it, they’d still not found who they were looking for, and then, in a last-ditch effort, Tara put out her own Facebook post, and Paul [Ritchie] and I, who were in a band before, just happened to come across it. I thought it was crazy that she happened to put it out at that time, and Paul and I were just like, “Hey, let’s give it a shot!” It ended up being a great fit!

How was the transition, coming into something like this from your and Paul’s previous band?

It was a pretty big change for Paul and I. Our prior band was more of a post-hardcore thing, which was a much heavier sound between the two bands. We had a great time in our old band, and they just weren’t interested in making it a career, which was fine. But once we found Love Like Fiction, we loved how they shared that same passion that we did. We were a lot more into indie sounding stuff anyway, so it was very refreshing.

Taking it back a bit, which bands influenced your musicianship when you were growing up?

Back in the day, I’d say Motion City Soundtrack hit home; they were a huge influence on me early on. Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco were as well. I’m still a massive fan of Brendon Urie. Even the pop punk scene of the 90s and 2000s – bands like Green Day and Blink 182. Something Corporate I also really enjoyed, and Fountains of Wayne for a period of time, but Motion City Soundtrack influenced me the most for sure. I just fell in love with music after listening to those guys.

Since finding your way into Love Like Fiction, how would you say your chemistry is now?

Our chemistry is fantastic (laughs)! That’s the main reason Paul and I got on board immediately. Personally, and musically, it just took off, right off the bat. That doesn’t happen very often, and we got really, really lucky, but we’ve all gotten better, and we’re like family at this point. We couldn’t have asked for a better band, and I think we all feel the same, honestly. It’s been really great!

When the songwriting is taken into account, is it pretty equal?

Absolutely! In my previous bands, I was really one of the main people always bringing something to the table, and I was excited to learn that that wasn’t the case with this band. Once I brought something in, these guys have been able to not only add to it, but make it better. Everybody has a say, we’re all listening, and most of the time, we end up putting something together that everyone really enjoys. It’s hugely democratic, and will hopefully continue to be that way.

You have your new single, “Misery Maintenance,” out now. How did that song come about?

We’d been trying to get a single going, and it started out as some really cool riffs Frankie came in with. He had the entire first half of the song fleshed out, came in, was super psyched about it, and we just started piecing it together from there. For me, from a lyrical standpoint, a lot of it was based on moving through the world after finding yourself. I think a big theme of it is addiction. In fact, our new EP describes my journey, and I think the journey of many other people – anxiety, depression, mental illness, stuff like that. I’ve dealt with those for a long time, and felt that everyone else in the band has had similar battles with their demons as well. So, “Misery Maintenance” is about working through that, and coming out in a happier place.

From what I gathered, it’s about gaining control over your misery, and working through your struggles without being in denial of them.

Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head with that. One thing that I learned, especially through years of therapy, is that outright ignoring that pain is not the way to go about it. You have to give it space, you know what I mean? And I think we’ve all been there in some way or another. I’m really glad the song resonated with you, because that’s exactly what we’re looking for.

In terms of production, how did you go about bringing this song to life?

We’ve been really lucky with the producer we have now, Matt Keller. He’s worked with a lot of different bands, and he’s just a wonderful producer. He’s fantastic. We walked in there and had a whole song ready. We were all set, but we didn’t have the sound. But he came at us with all these ideas for the song and helped it go into the direction that it went. Honestly, he allowed us to go way beyond what our normal capabilities would have been. We had 90 percent of it done, and he really came through for that other 10 percent.

Do you see a lot more nuances in this direction being a part of the new EP?

Yes, that’s the intent. We definitely have something in the works, and from what you may have seen in our advertising, the EP is called New Nostalgia. We’re definitely going a little bit more into our roots musically, but also putting our own spin on it.

Taking in all that you’ve been through with the band, what have you learned from it?

That’s a good question. For me, this has been a fantastic experience for me. In joining this band, I’ve learned that I’m leaps and bounds from who I was just a few years ago. I’ve really taken responsibility for my own growth, and have learned to communicate more effectively, not only with the band, but with our fans as well. I recognize that the producers and promoters we’ve known work so hard to put bands on the map, and we’ve been really lucky. We recently got signed to 80/20 Records with Mike [Zimmerlich], and meeting him has been a huge blessing; he’s a fantastic guy. I really can’t see myself doing anything other than being in this band, or even working with these people. It’s been massive for me – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Lastly, anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Yes! Keep an eye and an ear out for new stuff. I know we’re going through a crazy, crazy time right now with the virus and everything, but just know that we’re here for you, and we love everybody. We’re only going to get through this if we’re in it together. Keep on keepin’ on, and keep your head up!

Love Like Fiction Socials:

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About Jake Kussmaul

I come from a family who is passionate about all things music. I learned to sing at an early age, and by 13, had my very own Fender Strat guitar. I tried my hardest at learning all that I could. Because I was born with cerebral palsy, I had to teach myself an adaptive playing style. I learned to write and record my own music, despite these difficulties. In college, I started making great use of my writing abilities by reviewing music, as well as copy editing. I guess it's best to stick with what you know, while welcoming a fair challenge at the same time.

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