FEATURE: “It’s okay to not be okay” — Patty Walters of As It Is on mental health and music

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Patty Walters of As It Is On Mental Health and Music
Interview & Words by Annette Hansen

In the last couple of years, As It Is vocalist Patty Walters has had to hurdle the conflict of keeping up happy appearances while holding back internal turmoil.

“The majority of 2015, I was incredibly unstable and substantially unhappy in what we were doing,” Walters confesses. “It led me to becoming incredibly introverted.”

In late 2014, the band, which also includes guitarist and vocalist Ben Langford-Biss, guitarist Andy Westhead, bassist Ali Testo and drummer Patrick Foley, marked a huge milestone by being the first U.K. band to sign with Fearless Records. Shortly after, the band released their debut full-length album, Never Happy, Ever After, earning the band some critical praise. While this would seemingly be a recipe for good vibes all around, personal struggles began to pull Walters to a dark place.

“I dealt with everything internally and was completely by myself,” Walters expresses. “Instead of healing and growing and improving, I just pressed pause on everything I was feeling and struggling with.”

As the band approached their sophomore album, Okay, Walters knew he couldn’t continue in this frame of mind. “With the pressure of writing this record, it just became too much to deal with, and I just kind of had to be honest and open up and overcome it somehow,” he says.

For Walters, that meant opening up with a therapist and channeling his struggles into the band’s upcoming album, which focuses on the pressures of appearing to have it all together while truly being broken inside. The band appropriately titled the album Okay.

“We’re all imperfect and struggling people just like everybody else, and we just wanted to make examples of ourselves in these lyrics and in these songs,” Walters explains. “As composed as anybody might believe us to be, just like everybody listening, at times we’re not okay, at times we’re not enough.”

With Okay, the band was not willing to settle for mediocrity. With fresh fires fueling them forward, As It Is challenged themselves with this new material, pushing themselves in new ways and opening themselves to new sounds.

“I don’t think any band sets out to write a record just so that it feels adequate,” Walters says. “I think every band wants to strive for something they think is really phenomenal or something they’re going to be really proud of at the end of the day.”

And according to Walters, that was a push to rework what it meant to sound like As It Is. “Early on in the writing process, we banned the phrase ‘Oh, that doesn’t sound like an As It Is song,’ or ‘That doesn’t sound like an As It Is riff,’” Walters describes.” We just wrote what came naturally. We wrote songs that consequently don’t sound anything like typical As It Is.”

The result is an album that showcases some of the band’s most infectious hooks while still maintaining their intensity and urgency. While the music is gripping alone, the lyrics offer an endearing sincerity that brings the whole record together.

“[With this album], it was just kind of finding it within ourselves to write honestly and openly and beyond our comfort zones a lot of the time,” Walters explains. “It led to these results that we’re really proud of.”

Approaching with this level of honesty has left a positive mark on this project and on even Walters himself. “To hide and be closed off really doesn’t achieve anything as an end goal,” Walters relays. “I’ve been open with more people than I ever have in my life previously, and since all of that, I’ve become a much happier and more confident person. Instead of trying to avoid something, I’ve learned how to deal with something.”

With Okay, As It Is wish for the album to be a reminder that struggle is part of the experience of living. After all the ups and downs experienced leading up to the creation of this record, the band only hope that listeners find something to latch on to.

“We’re five people that felt like music was something we could always turn to when we felt alone or when we felt misunderstood or when we felt pain,” Walters expresses. “It’s a sincere hope with this record that it’s a consolation or a source of comfort for anybody listening, but more so a reassurance that it’s okay to be themselves, and it’s okay to be hurting or struggling or still growing because it’s okay to not be okay.”

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