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A Dirty Dozen with DEFINITELY MAYBE – January 2024

| 27 January 2024 | Reply

According to the band’s bio: “Fresh off the release of their highly anticipated new single “Are We Having Fun Yet?”, Chicago pop punk trio Definitely Maybe is today sharing a brand new music video for the track. Decked out in all pink and black, “Are We Having Fun Yet?” showcases a playful Definitely Maybe burst onto the scene last year with their viral single “One More Night.” The song, which was written by singer/lyricist Courtney Clinkert following the loss of her sister to suicide, is meant to remind listeners that you never know what tomorrow might hold – if you can just make it through one more night. “One More Night” has struck a chord with listeners around the world.” We get the band to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Courtney: One fun thing about this release is that we wrote the song around midnight the night before leaving for the session in LA. It came together SO fast. I wrote it while we were finishing up a different demo. We didn’t think Kevin would pick it to produce, and we couldn’t have imagined how far he’d take it. It’s more than we could have ever imagined it to be thanks to Kevin. We used real amps and tracked real drums. We did unique vocal takes for each chorus instead of copying and pasting to really build that emotion. One funny thing is that in the Radio Edit instead of “that’s bullshit” we yell “that’s bogus” in the gang vocals. We felt like we were recording for Kidz Bop. It was difficult not to laugh.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Courtney: At a very young age (4 years old) my parents had me in voice lessons through our church. My sister and our best friends (two sisters our age) would constantly karaoke in our basement and sing songs from Think Pink, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, etc. One of my first AIM screennames was “lovetasing345.” I did a lot of theater camps and show choir when I was younger, but I quit most of that by the time I reached middle school and high school. I always loved singing, but as I grew up and got to be an awkward tweenager, my confidence waned. We didn’t listen to much music around the house back then, and my parents didn’t allow us to listen to headphones in the house or in the car (not even on our eight hour drives to Northern Wisconsin). My best friend’s mom got me a purple iPod nano for my birthday in seventh grade or so that I could listen to if my parents weren’t home. I had to use my older brother and sister’s iTunes account that they shared, so it was all their music. I LOVED Evanescence. They were definitely my top-played in that era. I also grew up in a very Christian home where we went to church multiple times a week and served as volunteers. My brother would end up as the Youth Pastor there for several years when we grew up, so I also listened to a lot of Superchick, Flyleaf, Thousand Foot Krutch, Switchfoot, Fireflight, etc. My main exposure to playing music in my more recent years before the band was through church. I started playing drums at youth group midway through high school. I played at lots of churches for over ten years, but since the band keeps me busy now I haven’t for a while. I had a blast, though I had terrible, awful stage fright and seriously lacked confidence. I’m convinced my natural skill despite rarely practicing was because of the sheer amount of Rockband I played on PS3. That’s also how I started learn about rock music most people my age would have already known, but I hadn’t been exposed to it much since we only listened to Christian radio in the car with my parents and pop radio around town. I thought I’d be a drummer forever, and I started to think maybe I could do that in a band. I played for a couple of projects here and there, but I just wasn’t really sure if I actually liked it or just like the idea of it. I enjoyed being a female drummer. I was my current church’s first and only. I really wanted to keep at it until I was pregnant so that I could be a badass super pregnant woman smashing the kit at church. That’s still on my list. 😉 I think I listened to the music from that iPod even after streaming became a thing. My music taste was stuck between like 2003 and 2007, and I had a REALLY hard time listening to new music. It wasn’t until March 2020 when I started listening to Rock This by Allison Hagendorf that I started to discover new music. She introduced me to Machine Gun Kelly’s pop punk album, to YUNGBLUD, to Charlotte Sands, and SO many artists I admire. That was my gateway, and now New Music Friday is a holy ritual in our house. I went from the friend that listened to same 10 songs over and over to the friend that always discovers the best new bands thanks to Allison Hagendorf and her podcast. It really was the catalyst for my investment in the new scene. Meanwhile, I never, ever thought I could be the lead singer of a band. Not since I was like age 10. Of course everyone wants to be a singer in a rock band, but I had too much anxiety and self loathing to ever do something like that… or so I thought. After my sister died and I finally got my mental illnesses diagnosed and medicated and was being treated in therapy and psychiatry and taking care of myself and my habits, my first original melody with lyrics popped into my head while I was doing the dishes listening to Maggie Lindemann and Kelsy Karter. I remember feeling SO BRAVE for having sent it in a voice memo to Ian. My hands were shaking and my face was beet red even though I was home alone. That was a MASSIVE step for me. After that song it just never stopped. That was the proof point. After that, I was constantly hearing melodies and writing new lyric ideas. My sister was the singer and the songwriter, so I like to think she left that with me when she left. It wasn’t until I proved myself wrong that I realized I could actually be a “musician.” I still cringe when I call myself that. Imposter syndrome maybe.

Sawyer: Both of my parents were musicians, so they encouraged me to play instruments growing up. But there wasn’t really a very specific moment when I realized I wanted to be a musician I just always was one.

Ian: I wanted to be able to make music pretty much as soon as I heard it for the first time! Some of the earliest memories of musical inspiration I have are watching the marching band perform at my hometown high school football games as a very young kid, listening to *NSYNC, and Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5.” I wanted to try just about every instrument I could get my hands on as a kid! The realization that I wanted to BE a musician came a lot later. Making music always came so instinctively to me, but it wasn’t until I had to face the real world that I started actually dreaming about doing it for a living. It’s almost the only thing I think about, to the point where it’s very difficult to focus on my actual job. I literally can’t help it! That’s when I kinda knew I needed to go for it.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Courtney: The Christian Pop Punk scene was MASSIVE for me. Our band name is after a song by Thousand Foot Krutch’s side project FM Static. Relient K, Hawk Nelson, Flyleaf, Switchfoot, Evanescene, Skillet, TFK, FM Static, Mutemath, all of that was all over my purple iPod. Worship music and those themes also have carried themselves over into my writing. I was a die hard Belieber from the jump, and so he was (is?) my idol. Avril Lavigne and Paramore are a given. But oddly enough, the thing that always inspired me most, was watching audition videos of singers going on America’s Got Talant or X-Factor or American Idol. I always thought was just the coolest thing. I would watch Biana Ryan audition for AGT on YouTube, Cher Lloyd’s X-Factor audition, One Direction auditions, Kelly Clarkson’s victory performance on Idol. I still go down those rabbit holes.

Sawyer: Justin Bieber was definitely the most influential musician for me. Middle school me couldn’t get enough of My World 2.0.

Ian: My musical taste has gone through so many different phases over the years, but easily the single most influential artist for me is John Mayer. Growing up, I was exposed to some of his pop stuff through the radio, but I had no idea just how talented he was until I saw the DVD of his live show/album Where The Light Is around the beginning of my senior year of college. I’ve been making and listening to music my whole life and NOTHING made me as obsessed as that show. I spent the whole rest of that school year spending 15-30 hours a week shut in my room learning his songs by ear on the guitar. One of the craziest things I’ve realized about his music, though, is that I’ve always resonated with it even without knowing it, no matter what musical phase I was in. I’ve learned that he’s played parts in some of my favorite songs over the years without me even knowing it. There’s no way I’d be the musician I am today without John Mayer. Since then though, Courtney has definitely had the biggest influence on me as far as getting me deeper into our scene. I’ve always loved this stuff, but it’s been her world (especially the early 00s stuff) for a long time. Also, when I was listening to a lot of this stuff growing up, I wasn’t yet a guitar player! So it’s been incredibly fun looking at it all through a playing, writing, and production lens.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Courtney: My Mount Rushmore of collaborators would probably be Justin Bieber, Andrew Goldstein, Paige Blue, and Katy Perry.

Sawyer: I would love to work on a song with Machine Gun Kelly. “Tickets To My Downfall” and “Mainstream Sellouts” are major inspiration for me.

Ian: My music taste is all over the place so I could easily name a lot of people that wouldn’t make much sense for our band. As far as a Definitely Maybe collaboration, I would love to work with Chris Greatti at some point. I think his work on the Palaye Royale album Fever Dream is just incredible!

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Courtney: I love Nintendo and Mario games (Kart, Party, Smash). I love Jackbox games. I love movies and TV. I could probably sit and watch TV for the rest of my ilfe and never move again. If you told me to close my eyes and picture a perfect evening, it’d probably be sitting in a living room with my family drinking a glass of pinot grigio and playing a game or watching a movie.

Sawyer: I like to go on walks and I like to watch TV.

Ian: When it comes to unwinding, I mainly play guitar or watch some of my favorite creative channels on YouTube! Other than that, I like to keep myself busy hanging out with friends!

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Courtney: Our music is like what you would hear in a Disney Channel Original Movie coming of age story… like “Pink Slip” from Freaky Friday. One comparison that makes me cringe is when people compare us to Paramore, because I personally don’t think we sound anything like them! Don’t get me wrong, it’s such a compliment. But it also just feels like a sad cop out considering the lack of females in the old scene.

Sawyer: I would say that we write songs about discovering the feelings within yourself. We write very thought-provoking songs. “You sound like Paramore.” We really don’t lol.

Ian: This one is kinda hard for me to answer. One of the things that I love the most about our music is hearing that people who normally don’t listen to stuff like this really love what they’re hearing! Without sounding pretentious about it, I think genres and preconceptions can do a big disservice to music, so I’d rather just tell someone that we make music about real shit and we do it in a way that is hopefully energetic and easy to digest. As far as a comparison that I disagree with, a lot of people seem to compare us to Taylor Swift. Nothing against her music at all, but I just don’t get that one.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Courtney: Sawyer cooks, Sawyer gets the drinks, and Ian takes out the acoustic. I drink the drinks and eat the food and listen to the acoustic.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Courtney: I get SO starstruck… like to a fault. I was a few feet away from Jaden Hossler at the Landon Barker show and about pissed my pants. I was shaking when I met Charlotte Sands backstage at Lolla. I cried when Trevor McNevan messaged me back on IG. The Beauty School Dropout boys always make me feel starstruck. I remember watching Bardo packing up after one of their sets at Lolla and just not being able to tear my eyes away lol I cry at most concerts I go to as well.

Sawyer: The last time I was starstruck was probably when I met Beauty School Dropout at a Lollapalooza pre-party in Chicago. That, or seeing Mickey Brandolino from Valley in the crowd at an Elio concert and getting to tell him I was a big fan.

Ian: The only time I’ve been truly starstruck was when I saw Justin Timberlake in concert in 2018. I was a massive *NSYNC fan as a kid and that was my first time seeing him live. I got floor seats and ended up less than 10 feet from him at one point.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Courtney: The best part about being a musician is getting to hear people’s stories that connected with yours. It’s being able to be the reason a bunch of random people entered a room with the same mission and something so tangibly in common.

Sawyer: The best part about being a musician is probably that it’s based more on feeling than skill or knowledge.

Ian: Selfishly, the best part of being a musician is being able to light myself up. There’s almost nothing like the feeling of creating something that I love out of thin air. It’s something that I’m intimately familiar with, but also something that will remain a complete mystery to me. I also really love that I get to be a part of something much bigger than that in this band by using what I love to help tell Courtney’s story! Besides music, my dream job would be woodworking or something similar to that. I love designing and building things! It’s another way I get to chase that feeling of creating something.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Courtney: I’m tired of “let’s go around and do some introductions.” That’s always literally the worst. I think I’ve always wanted an interviewer to ask me if they can beat me in Mario Kart, because the answer would always be “no,” but then we could try and I could prove it. Or maybe if they asked me like how my menstrual periods were like “were you cramps really bad this time?”

Sawyer: “Would you like to meet Justin Bieber?” “Uhh… yeah.” I hate doing intros. Just give me a lower third.

Ian: “At this point in your career, did you ever imagine that you’d have SIX Grammys?” A man can hope, right?! Seriously though, I think a great question for me would be: “Since Courtney writes all of the lyrics, which one of your songs do you personally relate to the most?” And I’d honestly say this one! (There’s another one we haven’t released yet that I also really relate to.) I think anyone who has invested a lot of time and energy into something that still isn’t working out how they’d planned, whether it’s a skill, hobby, relationship, career, dream, or goal in general can relate to AWHFY! I’m not tired of answering any questions yet—this part of the journey is still fun and fresh! But I think one of the things I look forward to most is seeing the questions get more specific as people (hopefully) get to know us more over time.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Courtney: All the times I was unnecessarily mean to Sawyer and Ian and almost broke up the band </3 love you guys.

Sawyer: I wouldn’t have gone to Firestone to get my car fixed before driving to Baltimore for our session with Matt Squire. My car didn’t need to be fixed until they broke it (lol). We wouldn’t have broken down twice, and we would have had more time with him in the studio.

Ian: I don’t tend to really think that way. I’ve learned so much from my mistakes that they’ve become very valuable to me, as much as they may have sucked in the moment. I know that’s a bit of a cheap answer!

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Courtney: Journals by Justin Bieber – it was during his “bad boy” phase which was probably a really hard time in his life. His experience on this earth has been so unique. I just would have wanted to be a fly on the wall. I love him so much.

Sawyer: I would want to be a part of My World 2.0, since that record inspires me so much.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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