Finish Ticket recently released their EP “When Night Becomes Day” (Elektra) and toured alongside Twenty One Pilots on their sold-out Blurryface Tour.
The 5 piece alt/rock band is made of two sets of brothers, started by twins Brendan and Michael Hoye along with their friend Alex DiDonato and seccond set of brothers, Gabe and Nick Stein. The band has built an immense following in their hometown selling out headline shows at the Great American Music Hall, the Fillmore and Slim’s. In addition to opening for Twenty One Pilots on their recent North American tour, Finish Ticket has opened for Ed Sheeran, The Black Keys, Phoenix and The Strokes and has toured with Misterwives, Awolnation and Walk The Moon. Their self-released debut album, Tears You Apart, released last year was produced by Pierre de Reeder of Rilo Kiley (Vampire Weekend, Julian Casablancas, She & Him). Download When Night Becomes Day HERE!
So, first of all congratulations on the new tour. That must be really exciting for you guys. What can fans expect out of this tour?
Brendan Hoye: Thank You. I think we’re just trying really hard to make a show that definitely comes off as a head lining show and not just us getting on stage, playing songs and then getting off. I think we’ve done a lot of headlining in a few markets, but never a full tour like this. Our challenge right now is to figure out a set that we can do every night, still feel really fresh and try to have some tricks up our sleeves. Just do things that we will never really do and probably just create a cool cover. We might try to play some new stuff in the set if we have it ready. We just like crowd engagement. In some markets like New York and San Fransisco, we’ve headlined and people have gotten to see that side of us. But for the most part, the tour will be mostly cities we’ve never headlined and we also never got to do a set like this, so I think it’s just going to be really exciting. A lot of our fans have seen us multiple times just opening in these same markets, so that’s really what they’re used to. I think it’s just going to be a whole different kind of set and it’s going to feel cool. It’s going to kind of feel like we get to hang out with the crowd for a bit, talk to them more and connect with them instead of just trying to impress them. I think that will be the main difference.
Recently, you’ve toured with Twenty One Pilots and in the past you’ve toured with the Black Keys and Ed Sheeren. Can you talk about what the experience was like working with these artists?
Brendan Hoye: Some of those shows were one-off shows, but the Twenty One Pilots show was a whole tour for two months and that one was incredible. We’ve done a lot of touring and every tour had a different vibe and a different feel to it. Twenty One Pilots is this huge band and some dates were arenas and now they’re going on to do ball arenas. They went out of their way all the time to make us feel comfortable on tour and gave us what we needed in order to do our best. They’re always just looking out for us and their crew is incredible as well. The crew was always helping us. It’s all because their band has been there too and they’ve built their fan base in their hometown. They’ve really started from just a small town band with their one fan base and taking it to where they are now. That’s kind of what we’re doing and it’s refreshing to see a band do that and still be so kind and really use the fact that they’ve had to deal with that and get pushed around on tour. They have the chance now to not be one of those bands that pushes other bands around and it’s just cool to see a band still be that successful and do that. That was our favorite thing about the show, but also just watching them unite. They’re incredible performers and incredible in the way they run their shows. That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about doing a headline set. We’re talking about things we’ve learned from bands like them and how it flows and just how they really keep the show running and being able to captivate people the entire time.
We learned a great deal from them. Just being able to watch them every night, see how they have their show progress and what they do with their crowd engagements. They’re just great guys. Then we’ve gotten to play with a lot of other people. The Black Keys was a one-off show. It was a radio show in the bay area, here, and that show was really awesome because it was with Phoenix and My Chemical Romance. That was one of our first big shows ever. So we were just in awe. We got to play that show and we were still in college for our first year. We got that show and we all flew back to the Bay Area from where we were just to be able to play at the show. It went so well and we all loved it that we were like we want to do this for real. We’ve been playing a lot of shows before and we’ve been working hard, but we put it on hold for a second to do college. Then that show snapped us back into reality. We thought “Ok, after this year, we’re going to put it on hold and work on music and just pursue music.” So that’s the show that motivated us. It was really awesome to get to meet all these people and play with them because they really were our idol. Especially at the time, we loved Phoenix a lot too. They are the nicest guys ever. It was so cool to meet them and we kept running past them in the hall and every time we’d bump into them they were really friendly. It was just eye opening to us that show. It was really cool. Oh, and you mentioned Ed Sheeren. We’ve gone to play with Ed Sheeren a couple of times and he’s a really awesome guy too. It’s crazy because he is only one guy and he’s got a lot going on all the time. It’s a weird thing how he stays just the kind of guy he is and we loved meeting him in New York. When we played with him we walked in and he was in the middle of a sound check and he just stopped, hopped off stage and came right down to talk to us. He had a lot of stuff to do and it was really nice of him to do that. We love learning from people like that. People who don’t really take themselves too seriously even though you want to take yourself seriously, but to an extent. We love meeting people like that. It makes us really want to be like that if we ever get the opportunity to reach that level of success.
Can you just talk a bit on how you came to form this band. How Finish Ticket got together?
Brendan Hoye: Finish Ticket kind of started in high school. We were all playing in different groups at the time and I guess you can say that this became like a super group of kind of what all those other bands are all doing. We had all known each other and we played music together through a jazz band and other things in school. We all played music together, but we had different projects. One day after school we decided we were going to go with this new group and we would just go try it out. I remember I had a song I was working on with our original guitarist, Chris, and we just showed it to the rest of the guys and it just instantly clicked. We finished the song in that one practice and it was this new kind of chemistry we never felt before. When you’re in high school, high school bands sound like high school bands and this group just didn’t sound like that at all. We just felt way more realistic and more like the real thing. That’s why I never walked away from that practice. I was just so excited. I thought “this is definitely the real thing.” So we proceeded in high school and we started taking this band really seriously. We drove out and played in the local scene here, which is an amazing scene with amazing bands. We had a lot of really great artists to look up to that were playing just in this area. It really set the standard for us. It kind of made us realize how good we had to be in order to be taken seriously in playing live shows. And that’s definitely what made us into the band we are today. We still have that mentality with our live shows. What we bring to the stage is all because of what we learned early on here in the Bay Area. We watched some of the greatest bands play before we did, so that’s kind of how that all started. Then it was time for college and we all went for a year. We put music on hold for a second. We won this contest that made us come back and play that huge show I was talking about. That show made us realize that music is what we want to do. I remember being in Pomona, California and in one month of school I came back every weekend all the way from Southern California to San Francisco just to play shows. Sometimes even if it was just me and our guitarist, Alex. We did it just to keep it going and keep our fan base growing. It definitely got really hard to juggle school and music like that, so we all thought “Yeah, this is definitely not going to work. If we keep this up we’re going to be mediocre with school and music.” So we finished out our year at school. Everyone did it with the intention of “maybe we’ll go back.” We left on good terms and the other guys were all great students. I was just traveling the furthest, so I definitely had the struggle the most with balancing music and school. The other guys were really good students, so they were fine. We basically met that summer and had a big talk with the band and decided that half the band was going to leave school, well that was three of us, and the other two wouldn’t. Then we had to make a change in the lineup and we also started the process of making our first debut album, our full length album. In the start of the recording process we met, Gabe, our new drummer. Then he joined the band and through him his brother, Nick, joined the band. Nick is our keyboard player and we actually never had a key board player in the band. I always played the keyboard part, but I didn’t want to, so we’d get our friends to fill in or anyone who could. For the first time ever we actually had a keyboard player. So that’s kind of how this came together. The five of us; Me, Michael, Alex, Gabe and Nick. That’s kind of the short story. We started so long ago that it’s hard to summarize.
I’m kind of curious about the name, Finish Ticket. Where did that come from? Was it a group process?
Brendan Hoye: I have trouble remembering kind of what the whole thing was. I just know that it was an inside joke. We had a few different names back in high school that we tried out, put shows under and still none of them stuck. I remember one day we got together as a group and literally for like two or three hours of sitting on a couch, our drummer starts throwing names out. Nothing good was coming out, not a single one. Finally, I think it was our old drummer that said “What about Finish Ticket?” I don’t even know how we got there, but I think it was from a joke from a week before. I don’t remember, but I do remember that we thought half of it was like “that’s awesome” and the other half was like “Well, I mean it’s unique.” That’s just kind of how it stuck. It does sound unique and I don’t know if we’re all huge fans of it, but it’s kind of what we have to work with at this point. It’s fine, but I think it is unique and that definitely serves a purpose.
Who are some musicians that you, and maybe some of your band mates, look up to and inspire you to make the music you make now?
Brendan Hoye: I’ve always been a humongous fan of The Killers. I love The Killers. The Strokes are always a big influence. There are so many though. The year after I left school I was listening to nothing, but Cage the Elephant. I loved “Thank You. Happy Birthday,” their second album and also their newest record “Melophobia.” And Foals. A lot of Foals. We all love Foals.
I just got into Foals.
Brendan: Yea, they’re amazing. We love them a lot. It was really their album “Holy Fire” and “Melophobia” by Cage the Elephant. Those two albums were always on blast on tour when we were driving, we’d have those albums going constantly. Manchester Orchestra are a big influence and you can kind of hear that more from the older stuff. And we all love The Beatles, I’ve been listening to them non-stop lately. They’re my favorite. If you have to ask me who my favorite song writers are, I’d say The Beatles. But that’s a given and I don’t usually say that because everyone is just like “Well, duh”
So talking a bit about your music, can you kind of talk about your new video and the song for “Color?”
Brendan: “Color” is kind of a very different song than anything we’ve ever done at this point. A lot of songs we’ll spend a lot of time in writing, pre-production and working then going into the studio, but “Color” came out of a two or three day sessions in the studio. We went in thinking we were going to work on a different song and then we walked out with a brand new one. That has never happened, ever. It’s an interesting song for us. It’s really fun to perform live. I will say that. I was surprised at how much fun it is to perform. It doesn’t feel like other songs on the EP like “Wrong” or other songs on our last record like “Bring the Rain” which has a super deep meaning in connection with us. But I think “Color” reflects kind of how you’re feeling at the time. I think it’s more of a song for our listeners. I don’t know, it’s really hard to explain, but I like the idea. I really like the metaphor in the chorus of how everything is gloomy, but it’s looking better. I guess that applies to who and where we’re around at the time too. So I don’t know what I’m saying really, but I think it’s a song that a lot of people can connect with. It’s just such an interesting one to talk about because it’s such a different process for us than any other song, ever. With the video, we were thinking a lot of people don’t get to see what it’s like for a band in general. They don’t think about when they’re touring all the time, how much you cherish your last few days at home and figuring out how to handle being gone for so long. The video is supposed to be a little bit of a glimpse into preparing for the road like with rehearsals, visiting your favorite spots and getting ready mentally to be gone. That was right before the Blurryface tour with Twenty One Pilots. We were gone for two months and we actually filmed it in those last few days. It was extremely stressful because we were packing, we were saying bye to friends and we had to shoot this entire video. But I think it made it seem more genuine and it was a fun video to shoot too. We were really happy to show off the bay area where we’re from because it’s a big part of who we are.
Just one question to finish it off. Can you talk about the creative process and inspiration for the latest EP, When Night Becomes Day?
Brendan: A lot of the songs were developed. I remember I wrote “Wrong” when I was back home and it’s a pretty pessimistic song and it was a day that we had been off tour for a while. When you get off tour, it can really hit you kind of hard. When you go from such a fast pace life of tour and then you get home and it’s really quiet, you get kind of down for no reason. That one has a real meaning to me. That song is really about dealing with young adulthood. You always kind of picture how it’s going to be and it’s going to be great and you get there and you really took a lot for granted on the way there. And it’s kind of a reflection on that. I think it was just a really quiet day from getting home shortly after a tour and it hits you that it’s so much slower. It’s hard to avoid. I always know that when we get home from tour I kind of plan for a hit of a few days of depression. I can’t even describe it. I don’t know why. It’s such a different life being on tour and just constantly being in a new city and doing all that stuff. It really brings out other things. I really like the song “Wrong” though and I think that that’s a good summary for a majority of the EP. In general, that’s what we always write about because we always wrote about problems and issues that everyone our age or a little younger or older are facing through young adulthood. Preparing for young adulthood and the uncertainties that happens to go along with that. Our last record was all about us kind of being unsure about what we’re doing with our lives just because we knew we wanted to leave school and it was such a daunting thing. Now we’ve done all that and we’re still nervous. So that’s kind of where we’re at with the EP and a lot of the songs on it has to do with that. It’s hard to say. There isn’t a clear message on the EP like there is on the full length album in a sense because there are some different ones.
For example, “Never Alone” is supposed to be an anti-bullying song I’ve worked on for a performance at an event in college. I loved the song, so I ended up putting it on the EP. In the song “When Night Becomes Day” it’s about touring and meeting so many new people on the road; seeing a bad side to touring sometimes. There’s a lot of great people you meet, but it’s such a different lifestyle and it was really hard for us to adjust to it at first. I think we’re really different people than some people we’ve met and it’s a song about when night becomes day. Every start of a new day, people make bad decisions out on the road. The lyrics sort of mean that I’m a better man because I avoided those bad decisions. It’s just about adjusting to touring life, so I guess it’s more related to us specifically and our struggles. It’s hard to say. And “Scavenger” is just a song I love. It touches on when we first started to pick out our theme and how you start to really do well, or make a name for yourself, you start to notice people really coming back into your lives. People who you didn’t think would be around. It was inspired by this event that happened when we first signed a record deal and started touring more. People actually realized that our band might be going places and just kind of the reaction you get from some people. It’s inspired by that, I guess. So this album is definitely a little more scattered along with each song that has a pretty different meaning. But I really like it. The process of making this album was really challenging because it was our first one. We had a lot more eyes on us and a lot more people involved, it was no longer just a band making music. We have a full team now and it’s a lot more pressure making and recording music. We were definitely doubting ourselves every step of the way. It took a few tries on some songs to get it right. It was definitely challenging but I think it worked out in the end and we had a better result because of it. I think now we’re really excited to do more new music because now we kind of know what its like.