In 2018, I spent a lot of time talking to Tyler Posey for his previous band PVMNTS — first discussing via phone their (at the time) upcoming EP, and the second time we caught up, we spent a day together in Chicago while PVMNTS was on tour. You could tell by watching their show that Posey’s command of a crowd in a live setting was a sign that he could seamlessly transition back and forth between decorated actor and skilled musician.
Though he ultimately left PVMNTs last year, Posey promised fans that he wouldn’t be out of music for long. Reflecting upon the end of his time in PVMNTs with me yesterday, Posey shares that he knew at the end of their last tour that something wasn’t quite right. “It was a total bittersweet thing because we played one of our first sold out shows and it was in Paris and it was just super landmark-y and it felt like a huge moment for the band and for us,” he explains. He cites some disagreements between band members that lead to him realizing he wanted something different than how PVMNTS was operating. Posey didn’t know exactly what he was looking for, and it wasn’t until he started working with John Feldmann that he knew. “I realized that this is kind of how you’re supposed to collaborate with people, and it was like a breath of fresh air,” he begins, “It kind of opened my eyes to what it should really be like when collaborating with people. And ever since then, dude, it’s been the most fun, easy going, effortless thing ever.”
When it came time to put together Five North, Posey knew that he wanted to work with childhood best friend, Kyle Murphy. Murphy had previously been the tour manager for PVMNTS, but has his own history with playing music. “I’ve been playing bass since I was about 10 years old, so it’s been about 17 years now,” Murphy shares with me. This isn’t his first time playing with Posey, as they began jamming a lot with one another after they met at the age of 12. As time went on, he began working at a drum company, which helped him expand his horizons in music and meeting a few people in the industry as well. Still despite the gig, when Posey reached out about tour managing PVMNTS and being their photographer, he quit his job immediately and jumped aboard. “Then time went on as I was tour managing, toward the end there, Tyler was debating starting a new project and wanted me to join it. That really struck a note with me because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve found the perfect opportunity to do it with one of my best friends,” Murphy says. Chiming in, Posey playfully adds “And he kills it! He’s the sexiest bitch on stage ever. I’m so happy.”
When you’ve got two childhood best friends in a band, perhaps the natural inclination is to think any additional members would be friends as well. But, this isn’t the case here with Five North. While then — and still currently — drumming for Makeout, Murphy and Posey were introduced to Scott Eckel through Feldmann. We weren’t just going out there and auditioning like anybody. We just wanted it to be something solid, so we were kind of cool with it just being us two for a while,” Posey tells me. Despite being living in Australia, Eckel joined Five North after meeting the other two — and it became obvious rather quickly that it was going to be a natural fit. “We [have] the same interests, the same sense of humor — it was a really, really dope fit,” Posey explains.
If it sounds like doing double duty for two active bands might be hard, you’re not wrong. In fact, I pose the question to Eckel how he’s going to balance both gigs, and he chuckles. “This is the perfect question,” he begins, “We actually got offered shows for Five North that happen right, like, smack-bang in middle of the [upcoming] Makeout tour.” Makeout is scheduled to be on tour from April 2nd to May 10th, and while no details were given to me during our conversation, there’s some resemblance of a time-frame for you.
Eckel goes on to tell me that when it comes to performing in Five North, his bandmates in Makeout are entirely supportive. When it was brought up that he would need to miss a few shows to perform with Five North, there was no hesitation or arguments to allow him to do so. “I’ll be leaving that [Makeout] tour, flying over, playing those shows, and then going straight back to [Makeout]. It’s gonna be fun,” he tells me.
Five North’s career jumpstarted through their work with Feldmann and being apart of his new label/venture, Big Noise. While Eckel met him through Makeout (Feldman recorded their debut album), Posey first met him when PVMNTS performed at Warped Tour in 2018. They had a mutual friennd in common, and wound up meeting backstage after Posey approached him. It was an experience that he describes as surreal, like many of us, meeting your idols can be a bit intimidating for him. “I took a picture with his kids and then I told him what time my band was playing, and halfway through our set, I look up and I see Feldman with State Champs and they’re just watching me,” he recollects.
After that, Posey and Feldmann stayed in touch with one another. Pretty quickly they formed a bond that went beyond music: “He invited me to his birthday party which I thought was pretty sweet and very cool. I was hanging out with him, and then he brought me back into the studio, showed me some blink-182 songs, and then was like, ‘How would you like me to record your band?’ and then it was the perfect,” Posey says. Now, they stay in touch fairly frequently, as him and Murphy don’t live far from Feldmann, and from time to time Posey even plays in Goldfinger when Mike Herrera is unable.
Feldmann has an allure to him, and understandably so. His discography speaks for itself, work with The Used, Atreyu, Good Charlotte, and Story of the Year highlight the early-2000’s alternative/pop-punk scene. While he has never slowed down, continuing to work massively successful albums with bands like blink-182, 311, 5 Seconds of Summer, and more, it’s his earlier work that comes up when Murphy talks to me about recording with Feldmann. He describes working with Feldmann as a “blessing” and “surreal,” explaining that “He gets in there and he has so much knowledge, and a lot of times I just have to sit back and watch him perform behind the desk.” This was Murphy’s first experience in a studio, never previously being in a band quite like this, making it all the more to take in. “It’s really cool because I hear things that, like, in bands like The Used and Simple Plan, I hear sounds that I’m like, ‘Oh man, that sounds so amazing,’ and we can replicate that sound in John’s studio. It’s just, there’s certain snare sounds that are just amazing to me, and John’s got it. It’s amazing to hear everything he has in his arsenal,” Murphy states.
All of this leads up to Five North’s debut EP, Scumbag, which drops tomorrow, March 6th via Big Noise. The guys would describe it as a release that’s not cohesive, but still manages to sound like one “badass album.” As someone that has heard it — that’s not far off. We eventually agree to describe it best as eclectic, and that becomes the theme of the interview. Through the EP’s eight tracks, you’re taken on a journey of sounds that all, through their differences, manage to work. “I don’t know where the connecting factor is, I don’t know if it’s the lyrics, the melodies, how I sing the lyrics, the cadence, the drums, the bass line. I don’t know what the connecting factor is, but even though all of the songs sound completely different, you can absolutely tell it’s Five North,” Posey candidly tells me.
Lyrically speaking, Scumbag can be deep throughout it’s eight-track run. Posey explains this as, “Usually, the singer or the subject, is going through something a little deeper. Maybe an obstacle in his or her life, and they usually come out of it hopeful or with an arc, or new perspective of things. Whether it’s fucking up relationships or accepting the death of a loved one, or being in a shitty situation and things feel much heavier than they are. We always have some positive outlook at the end of our songs, that’s just who we are.”
When it came to working on the EP itself, the three tell me that Feldmann really acts as an unofficial fourth member of Five North. Lyrically, the lead is taken by him and Posey, but there’s still a good balance there, as Eckel and Murphy both have their fair share of input with what they think sounds better lyrically and musically. It’s truly a collaborative effort between all four of them when they’re int he studio writing and recording. “That is such a really fun way to work and to be. It’s all our – we want him to have that much power within the band and he, I think, having that he’s also able to give us a bunch of leeway and let us do whatever the fuck we want. We both have the attitude of wanting to have fun with the other,” Posey says.
A long as you’re on the same page with the producer and it’s someone you completely trust, there’s no such thing as getting their input. We discuss the discourse that can happen when your label gives you your choice of producers and you just sorta reluctantly pick one. Of course that’s not nearly the case here, and that’s something that Five North is thankful for.
Five North has a ton of talent behind it with these four gentlemen, and through their collaborative effort, it manages to sound different than things that they’ve done prior. If you’re looking for Five North to sound like PVMNTS or Makeout, that’s not what you get in the end. While “This Mess” was a great introductory first single to the band and sort of blends the sound of Makeout and PVMNTS, Scumbag is very different than just the sound of “This Mess.” Songs like “Drunk Cat,” “Echo,” and “Same Old Story” are mid-tempo to up-beat songs that are lead by acoustic guitar, rather than just the same chugging pop-punk tracks.
This sound for these tracks was really solidified when they wrote “Drunk Cat,” Posey says: “After we wrote it we kinda looked at each other and were like ‘Holy shit, I think this is the direction [to take].'” While they were satisfied with the pop-punk-y songs that they were writing before “Drunk Cat” came to fruition, they felt like there was still something missing — and that song was the catalyst for not only going outside the box, but sort of obliterating it in the process. “There was this light at the end of the tunnel and we could see where Five North was gonna go. Then we ended up writing ‘Happier Now,’ ‘Echo,’ and ‘Whiskey Breath.” All of those songs really helped place together this sound that we have. It’s all over the place. It’s like organized chaos,” Posey explains.
“Drunk Cat” came at good timing, as they never wanted to get stale with the music they were writing. This is never more evident than with the aforementioned “Happier Now” and “Whiskey Breath,” that show some of their influences that lie more within the EDM side of music. They’re songs that Five North whole heartedly stand behind, and this writer would die on that hill as well. All of that being said, there’s still the unknown of putting them out into the world and seeing what happens. “I have no idea how people are going to react to it, partly because we cover a lot of genres in it: rock, punk, emo, EDM – there’s some dance-y and trap shit in there,” Posey says, “I think anybody who has a love for any sort of music might find something good in there.”
If you’re curious what’s next for Five North, I’ve got no answers for you. Outside of the mini-spoiler of some shows that will happen in the coming months. But what I can tell you is they do want to tour, as Eckel tells me at the end, “I love playing shows; that’s what I wanna do for the rest of my life.” Scumbag will be out tomorrow, and the rest will likely fall in place from there. It’s an impressive debut release from Five North, and looks like this is only the beginning with a truly collaborative, engaged team around them.
As we end our conversation, we extend pleasantries with the hope that someday we will catch up again and talk about whatever the next chapter may be in Five North. At this point, we can sit back and enjoy the ride that we’re about to go on. It’s anything but boring and anything but safe — and that’s just how they like it.