We had the chance to sit down and chat with Declan Mckenna about his debut album What Do You Think About The Car? just before his Toronto show, and got some cool insights on his career at such young age. This United-Kingdom sweetheart unveils his thoughts and opinions about touring, meaning behind the lyrics and definitely some quirky UK expressions.
How has the tour been so far? How do you keep all of this energy going?
It's been cool you know, I mean this is a relatively short tour though. Its on the back of a lot of promo and stuff and the back of the album, touring around the earth, so it’s been good! It obviously does get tiring and you kinda get to a point where you're just like constantly somewhat "jaded" but yeah you just power through it and it’s been really enjoyable and smooth and it hasn't been too rough as these things can be.
Can you tell us you most crazy tour story?
Am I allowed to tell you the most crazy story? Haha, the other week was kind of crazy, it was kind of just an act of nature but like at Lollapalooza it was the maddest thing I’ve ever seen! I’d never seen a festival have everyone completely evacuated, that was kind of wild. We were jut chilling and we were standing under these tents, just hanging out with a bunch of other bands who were there, and then they were trying to evacuate us and we were thinking ‘what the hell, its just raining, theres nothing to it’ and suddenly there was a massive storm and they took Muse off stage and basically got evacuated, and we ended up sat in the back of this buggy waiting while its pissing rain! Me and Ryan, the keyboard player, ended up on the back getting pelted on by the rain and having to strain all the water out of my clothes, but that was kinda wild. I don't think I’ve ever seen so much rain in my life, it was unreal.
Can you tell us a moment in your career where you felt “humongous?”
Maybe when I was 16 and signing into Colombia Records, it was a pretty, pretty big deal for me at the time, and yeah I think that was at the time just a massive thing I didn't really see coming.
How did it feel to finally put out your first album and release it to the world?
Good! It’s very relieving you know? I think so much prep had gone into it and some of these songs I’ve had for a long time so it was nice to let go of all of them and release everything into the world and play the songs wherever, and you know, not worrying about people not knowing them. Its just, yeah its cool! It’s everything I’ve been working on for the past like 2 years so its wicked.
Going back to the older songs you’ve done, theres a couple songs that have been released for a long time like Isombard has been out there for almost a year as well as Brazil almost a year and a half, why did you decide to include them into your album?
I think because the fans already knew them, I think they're good songs! Even though they've been recorded earlier, I just feel like it made sense for them, recording wise, to go into the album because now Ive written a bunch of other songs but I couldn't spend another year or two making another album now, but i can just release the songs that i have now and put out whatever i make next, “next”. I think it felt like a mistake to leave them out. Especially having songs that people are already familiar with on the album is a good thing, you know, if I had a favourite song of an artist and it didn't end up in their album I’d probably be quite disappointed and as a debut album I think it makes sense for people.
Which songs from What Do You Think About The Car are you the most proud of having written?
I think Humongous is probably my proudest one. Well it’s the most recent one I wrote for it so it’s, I guess you can say more developed. I’ve learnt more about song writing, I feel like it’s you know, one of my best efforts in terms of songwriting. I like that one, I think its more expanded and more, I don't know, developed than any of the other songs I wrote before.
How much personal experience went into this album?
Lots! I mean it’s 2 years, you know, once you start working on new songs or writing, you don't really stop and it’s basically everything you know? I think as time has gone on, it becomes more open and just being open generally more with my song writing and comparing my personal life to about everything. I'm still young and still kind of learning to figure out who I am and what I can write about and how I can incorporate different things into songwriting.
3 of your songs really stood out for me, Make Me Your Queen, Listen To Your Friends and Humongous,
Those were actually the last 3 that were made!
Oh that’s really funny! So what was your inspiration behind those songs?
Well, what’s interesting about Listen To Your Friends is that it’s the only song on the album that was co-written. So, the rest of the album was all written by me and this song I co-wrote and I think they brought in a kind of different head space into the rest of the album because it’s a shared thing and you can’t really shrug off any ideas, you have to be really open and be like "lets just go with this and see if we can make it something."
And the other two, yeah, its a pretty amazing session, Make Me Your Queen and Humongous towards the back end of last year, similar time to when I actually last came to America on tour. I’ve learned more about myself and I’ve learned more about why I love writing and it just shows within those songs.
Which artists inspire you the most?
I LOVE David Bowie, I think he’s a big influence on me in general, star-wise and music wise, I’ve always loved him. Abba, St. Vincent I’ve listen to a lot, Sufjan Stevens, Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley, The Beatles… Yeah, lots!
What is the toughest part of being so young in the music industry?
Trying to hang out with friends! You really miss that when you tour! I live pretty far from my friends anyway, none of my friends from school really live near the school and I live near the school, so like, they're really far and then my other friends are in London normally so even when I’m finally home I have to really commit to seeing friends and stuff which is tough, especially when most kids my age see their friends everyday at school, it’s like being away for like 2 months or something. It’s very hard.
Well I hope you make tons of friends on tour! Are you ready for the fire round?
Let’s do it!
Favourite Chad Michael Murray TV show/movie?
Hands down One Tree Hill! Easily.
Who's your favourite artist at the moment?
ME. Just kidding, uh Maggie Rogers! She’s great!
I fell in love with Olly from Years and Years!
Check out Declan Mckenna here: https://www.declanmckenna.net/
Cover Photo by: Elaine Genest Photos by: https://www.instagram.com/citizenkanewayne/