As December Falls: “It feels like we’ve finally arrived”

With their foundations firmly set, AS DECEMBER FALLS are throwing open the doors.

Words: Ali Shutler

As December Falls first started making music together in 2014 and have released two sugary pop-punk albums alongside a handful of EPs and singles in the years since. They’ve remained definitely independent throughout. New album ‘Join The Club’ sees them, if not out to take on the world, then at the very least ready to crash the Official Album Chart. “It feels like we’ve finally arrived,” says vocalist Bethany Curtis.

“We’ve been laying the foundations, we’ve got the bricks and mortar down, and we’re ready to build it up another level now,” she continues, still recovering from a hectic weekend at Download Festival that saw As December Falls make their Donington debut. The band only live twenty minutes away from the heavy metal festival and grew up watching the likes of Slipknot, Biffy Clyro and Deftones. “It was our first time actually performing at Download, but it felt like a welcome home,” grins Bethany. “As soon as we got out onstage and saw people trying to cram themselves into that 10,000-capacity tent, we realised just how insane things have got.”

After slowly building the world of As December Falls, the past 18 months have seen things rapidly accelerate as the band head towards third album, ‘Join The Club’. “We want everyone to be part of this band,” explains Bethany, with the band setting up a Patreon for fans to have their say on every aspect of ADF’s new album, from videos and merch to what songs should be finished first. “It’s been really collaborative; it feels like they’ve been on the journey with us,” she continues, with long-term fans and newcomers given the same power. “Calling the album ‘Join The Club’ just felt right. We wanted to remind people that all of us have made this record together.”

Allowing so many voices to be involved in the creation process is a recipe for middle of the road, but As December Falls are now so confident in their vision of their band, nothing could derail them. “This album has really finalised our sound. It feels a lot more complete, and we’ve finally nailed everything we’ve been trying to do since this band started,” says Bethany. “In a way, it feels like our debut album. It’s definitely a new energy for the band.”

During the recording of the album, there were a couple of times the band worried they had gone “too My Chemical Romance” but as soon as Bethany’s poppy vocals were added, everything shifted, and the band could plough on. Heavy tracks like ‘Mayday’ and ‘Carousel’ sit next to pop-punk ragers like the title track, while ‘Little By Little’ and ‘Home’ are designed to kick listeners in the feels.  

As December Falls have always made music within the realms of buoyant, bubbly punk rock, but ‘Join The Club’ is the first album they’ve released after the pop-punk and emo resurgence. “It’s great to see a new generation discover this music and get involved in the community around it,” says Bethany, but the revival had very little impact on the band’s creative process. “We’ve always done this, and we probably always will,” she continues, still remembering the day when some guy in a suit suggested the band trade the guitars for synthesisers because no one wanted guitar music. “We’ve always just stuck to our guns,” she says with a smirk.

“We’ve finally nailed everything we’ve been trying to do since this band started”

Bethany Curtis

Lyrically, ‘Join The Club’ allowed Bethany a space to process what she was going through. “I find it so much easier to write about something difficult or sad,” she starts, comparing the emotional purge to therapy. The record tackles everything from mental illness and anxiety to friendships, relationships and that sense of belonging with a fierce optimism, which is another new energy for the band.

Despite the title, As December Falls’ previous album ‘Happier’ dealt with a lot of sad themes but offered little in the way of resolve. “It felt like I was wallowing,” admits Bethany. “But with this one, I know everyone’s going through a lot, but I wanted to tell people things were going to be ok, and we’re going to face it together. I wanted this album to be a positive push forward.”

As December Falls are a DIY band by choice but for the first time in their careers, they’ve made sure ‘Join The Club’ is chart-eligible via many forms, technical jargon and more forms. “It’s not an easy process,” admits Bethany. So why bother? “We just want to prove that you can achieve things and still do things your own way. Being DIY and independent is a hard route to take, but it’s so worth it because every victory belongs to us and the fans who have made it possible. It feels like we’re doing things the right way.”

Having the fans essentially be As December Falls’ record label did add to the pressure when it came to creating ‘Join The Club’, though. “We wanted them to be as proud of the record as we are,” says Bethany. “Every time we’d show a demo to fans, we were expecting them to say they hated it. We’re still waiting for the day where they say, ‘this one isn’t good’.”

The community spills out into the physical world as well, with As December Falls gigs “a party that everyone is invited to. It’s a very welcoming environment,” adds Bethany, who knows a lot of people have had rubbish experiences in the alternative music scene. “It’s outrageous that kids are made to feel like outsiders in a genre like rock, which is meant to champion outsiders,” starts Bethany. “But whatever, they can come be whoever they want to be with us.” That camaraderie and freedom is why people first connect to As December Falls. “It’s also why they stick around,” Bethany explains. “It’s this massive community; why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?” ■

Taken from the August 2023 edition of Upset. As December Falls’ album ‘Join The Club’ is out 21st July.