First and Forever Prove Emo Isn't Dead
From left to right: Marcus (guitarist & lyricist), David (drummer), Courtney (producer & engineer), Alex (lead singer & lyricist)
As a millennial, I grew up on a steady diet of pop punk and emo music. It’s something that is equally nostalgic and electrifying each time I hear those familiar riffs and chords. When I came across the new emo band First and Forever on my FYP (thanks, TikTok), I was intrigued. Really? A new emo band? I took a deep dive into Alex, the lead singer’s, social media and found out not only were they real...they were good. I blew through their Spotify catalog in one sitting and wanted more. I had to take a chance to reach out to Alex to find out more about the band that transported me back to high school with every note. The band resides in my hometown of Scottsdale, AZ, which made it more exciting. When Alex agreed to do an interview with me over FaceTime it was the first thing we talked about.
Alex: I’m from Minnesota originally, I’ve moved around a ton. The band is in Scottsdale, and this is where I met them.
First and Forever has tracks reminiscent of an amalgam of emo bands, including the electric riff at the end of Alone in The Dark that immediately made me double-check whether or not I was listening to Yellowcard.
Q: What emo bands do you consider your biggest inspirations?
Alex: I’ve always been obsessed with this genre of music. I loved bands like The Used, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday...you name it.
Upon my dive into Alex’s social media, I found a series of TikToks of the emo singer in unrecognizable corporate attire begging for TikTok to blow up his band so he could quit his job as an accountant. Shortly after, he posted another TikTok stating how his company had seen the previous post, and he had been fired.
Q: Corporate jobs suck the soul out of you.
Alex: They absolutely do. I had a corporate life for a long time. It’s mind numbing.
Q: I saw on TikTok that you were fired from your accounting job, after posting a TikTok about wanting to have your band make it so you could quit your accounting job. Did that really happen?
Alex: Yeah, oh yeah. There’s a lot to this story and I can’t go into too much detail. What I think happened was, I have these people from my old job in my contacts and I showed up on their FYP. I was making over six figures at that job and got fired and it’s hilarious. If there was ever a time to go for it [with the band], it’s right now. It feels like fate in many ways. The day that I got fired was the same day we signed with a booking agent in the U.K. We’re growing, getting bigger, and trying to make this a full-time career. We’re super excited. I always thought that, I basically built the band from my phone. Through contacts and social media, that’s it.
Q: I love that we live in an age where social media can help musicians get discovered and blow up. Can you give me a little background on how the band started?
Alex: We have kind of a unique history. This is the first band and only band I’ve ever been in. I have this really warped idea that you can just start a band and people will care...that’s not true [laughs]. My guitarist and my drummer are excellent musicians, they’ve each been in [multiple] bands. I woke up one day and told myself, “you’ve always wanted to be in a band, but you’ve always been too afraid to do it. If you don’t do it right now, like today, you will never do it.” So that night, I bought a six pack of beer and went on Craigslist and literally drank the entire thing to give myself enough confidence to send a message to someone. It feels like fate, because the one and only message I sent went to our current drummer. He asked me to send him a video of myself singing, and I said I’ve never done this before so I don’t have any videos and he was like, I’m not interested at all [laughs]. But I followed him on Instagram and badgered him for 3 months until he finally agreed to meet up with me, and I’m glad he did! We found Marcus, our guitarist, on Craigslist as well...the rest is history.
Q: How long ago was all of this?
Alex: This was back in 2017, but we were never a real band and I think that needs to be very clear. This wasn’t supposed to be anything. It was just a garage band where we drank beer and played Blink-182 covers. I had no fucking clue what I was doing. I was glad they were even [willing to] play with me.
Alex for their latest EP Let This Love Lie Dead
Q: How did First and Forever become what it is today?
Alex: I moved away to Chicago [for work] a few years ago. I was super miserable in my corporate job there and I remember thinking how much I missed the band. I wished we had recorded one of the original songs that we wrote. I reached out to them and said I’d pay for it [if they were down], I just really wanted to play with them again and record one of our songs. I came back and we coincidentally recorded a song called Chicago, and that was our first song.
Q: Chicago has over a million streams now, that’s amazing.
Alex: Yeah it’s crazy, basically the internet just found us. I made a Twitter, Instagram and TikTok account and it caught on in some way.
The opening of Chicago will easily have you thinking this band is some reprisal of The Used. I would never have guessed this was the first song from a Craigslist garage band. The drums pop in a way reminiscent of Travis Barker and Alex has emo crooning skills as if he’s done this his whole life. Which led me to my next question.
Q: Did you take any music classes in school? Alex: Yeah I was in choir in high school but I was super shy and not very loud. I took my first vocal lesson two weeks ago. I'm just now learning how to sing correctly. I’m completely untrained, I mostly know how to yell melodically [laughs].
Q: Are you the sole lyric writer?
Alex: Marcus and I write the lyrics. Marcus is honestly our main writer. He’s incredible. On Let This Love Lie Dead he really unlocked himself. He writes most of the music then we come and help finish with melody and lyrics and everything. Our latest EP covers a lot of different topics from abusive relationships and drug abuse to self-reflection. It’s about knowing you’re in the wrong instead of blaming it on others. Let This Love Lie Dead, for instance, is about letting go and falling out of love with yourself.
It’s not everyday someone has the confidence to take a risk to leave their cushy six-figure job to pursue a career in music. It’s even more of a risk for someone who is untrained. The risk paid off, as First and Forever is quickly gaining traction and it will only snowball in 2021.
Q: What is your goal for First and Forever?
Alex: We want to be the emo band. Goals are constantly changing. When we started, our first goal was to get 1,000 streams of our song Chicago. Now we’re at 5 or 6 million streams for Chicago across all the platforms [it’s available on] which is wild. The next step is to get on our first real tour. I want to tour with The Used and Taking Back Sunday, it would be my dream to open for them. If I could play Lollapalooza one day, even though they don’t book a lot of emo bands, that would be amazing. I’m excited to get to the UK. I want to play Slam Dunk, Reading and Leeds.
Q: On that note, with concerts starting to come back for the fall in a post-COVID world, what does First and Forever have in store for the rest of 2021?
Alex: We just finished recording new material. (Alex was hush hush on whether it’s an EP or a full album) We’re waiting to get the mixes back...but we’re thinking fall and winter is probably when you’ll see First and Forever on our first tour, which we’re excited about. Rock and pop punk are coming back in general. We feel like it’s the perfect time for our band, for our sound. We have a lot of momentum right now and a lot of exciting things going on, so we are very blessed.
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