Patty Walters has a new look. A few years back, when he was gaining a following as a YouTuber who made earnest covers of pop punk staples like “The Middle” and “American Idiot,” he could be seen sporting bright blonde hair and band tees. His aesthetic stayed essentially the same throughout his first few years as a vocalist for As It Is. Then, in late April—just before the start of the final Warped Tour—he made a dramatic change. An Instagram post showed him with side-swept black hair and eyeliner, resembling alternative heroes like Gerard Way and Billie Joe Armstrong. When the band released its music video for “The Wounded World,” the first single from forthcoming album The Great Depression, fans got their first glimpse at this transformed Walters in action. Shouting lyrics like “You can’t pull back the trigger and then point the same finger” into a megaphone, he radiated punk rock power, clearly ready to usher the band into its most intense era.
If you’re wondering “What happened to the old Patty?”, the answer is that he’s still the same—just stronger. To reference the Pokémon franchise, a longtime love of his, he has simply evolved. When I meet him at Warped Tour Columbia, he’s just as sincere as he seems in his classic vlogs. No amount of black apparel can overshadow his smile as he talks about his favorite fictional worlds, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, and his pet rabbits. He speaks with conviction about issues like toxic masculinity and mental health, which he tackles head-on through his music. Then, as we’re walking back to the press room after the interview, he sings a few lines of the Ponyo theme song.
I can’t make his set due to a scheduling conflict, but I do see a video of it later. In the clip, he’s swinging from the stage rigging, hanging upside down. Make no mistake, wounded world: Patty Walters is a force to be reckoned with.
TYF: You guys have been on Warped Tour for a little while now. What would you say that your favorite memories from Warped this year have been so far?
Patty Walters: That’s a great question.
TYF: Thank you.
Walters: There was a couple that proposed in front of our merch tent. That was in Connecticut.
Walters: That was one of my favorite memories of the summer. More so, it’s just that [Warped Tour has been] the first glimpse into the new record, a record that we’re so proud to have written, and a very new and refreshing chapter in this band where we’re so optimistic for the future, and playing these songs that are so different. They really represent an evolution in this band. I’m seeing so many new and old faces embracing that change. It’s a very sentimental kind of Chapter One, I guess.
TYF: Yeah, that’s awesome. You guys have been on Warped Tour in the past as well; how would you say that this year is different? Would you say that there’s a different vibe since people know that it’s going to be the last one?
Walters: For the most part, I don’t feel like there has been a different vibe. I think that will change in a couple of days once we really can comprehend that Warped Tour is coming to a close, because every day on Warped Tour feels like Groundhog Day. It’s like, you know—This parking lot looks very similar. But it’s been very, very fun. It’s pretty apparent, the growth of our band [since] 2015, because the crowds are consistently so much better and bigger. And it’s been a lot of fun. But more so, I think we just understand the inner workings of Warped Tour and the toll that it takes on your body and your mind. I know how to cope a lot better on this tour—and that doesn’t mean that I’ve been fine all the way through Warped Tour; it just means that I’m a little more forgiving when I have bad days, and when I need to remove myself from Warped Tour or my friends or my bandmates and all this stuff. I’ve really learned how to care about myself, and for that reason, Warped Tour has been much, much easier. It’s still a difficult tour, but a very fun tour. It’s nice to be out here with so many new and old friends and making memories on what is a historic tour within the scene.
TYF: For sure. And you guys just released a very cool song called “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)“. What was the inspiration behind that?
Walters: That’s a song about both toxic masculinity and toxic femininity—gender expectations, gender norms, and rejecting conformity, being yourself. If you can’t be yourself at Warped Tour, where can you be yourself? These are conversations and actions that we need to have, especially in the scene, especially in society. [Conversations about] understanding that we’re more than just our gender, our sex, or race or religion, anything like that. We’re just people. It’s a song about how that stuff that society projects onto us is very damaging sometimes.
TYF: For sure. Were you guys inspired by the song by The Cure at all?
Walters: Yeah! I love that song.
TYF: It’s a classic.
Walters: It is, yeah.
TYF: You guys recently released the music video for your song “The Wounded World”. What was it like filming that, and how’d you come up with the idea?
Walters: That was really fun. Josh and Dan [of Our World Is Grey], who directed [the videos for “The Wounded World” and “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry),” are people that we’ve worked with for the last… maybe three music videos in at least some capacity, and I just adore working with them. They are so easy to work with. I should say “effortless” to work with because “easy” makes it sound like we’re not working very hard (laughs), but it’s such a fun and rewarding experience. And these are music videos where we wrote the treatments ourselves, between our directors, our manager and us in the band, and it was really just this project that we kind of took the reins of. We filmed both music videos across two days. They were long days—it was a long weekend—but it was so much fun. It was a really cool experience.
TYF: That’s awesome. In anticipation of your new album, which is coming out soon, you’ve changed your aesthetic a lot. What was the inspiration for that? Do you want to talk about that some?
Walters: So Ben [Langford-Biss] and I in particular are very big fans of bands like Paramore, like Fall Out Boy, like Panic! at the Disco, like My Chemical Romance—bands that really do drastically evolve from record to record, from era to era. And we’ve always represented an element of that, going from Never Happy into the okay. era, and we wanted to do something even bigger, even more theatrical and bolder. And so much of this record was fully understood before we began writing lyrics or songs. We knew the title, we knew the message, and we knew the kind of aesthetic changes that we wanted to implement, to channel and pay homage to a more hardcore- and emo-influenced direction. And with that brought the hair and the makeup and whatever. So yeah, I don’t know, it was just a kind of all-encompassing vision that we had… it was January 5th, 2017, so it was three weeks before okay. came out. We just kinda started living and breathing this record from that point onwards.
TYF: Do you find that the new look, the new aesthetic, helps you get into a different zone when you’re performing than when you had the previous look?
Walters: It does. There is a drastic difference between offstage Patty and onstage Patty. There always has been. I think the biggest difference is… I know this look is a little more drastic than the okay. era, but I feel so much more comfortable with this look and wearing makeup and dressing a little more formally, wearing suits and ties and collared shirts. It feels genuine—not to suggest that the past record was disingenuous in any way, it’s just that this feels so… I feel so comfortable. But yeah, onstage Patty is very energetic and violent and confident, and offstage Patty is very withdrawn and timid. But I think that’s why so many of us embrace music—because there’s this catharsis and this outlet for expression, both personal and artistic expression. And it’s fun to kind of have that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde about yourself.
TYF: Yeah, for sure. Your new album is called The Great Depression; am I correct in assuming that it deals with a lot of themes of mental health?
Walters: It does. Yep. okay. was about my mental health and Ben’s mental health, and it eventually came to be [about] our fans’ mental health. We would talk at length about our experiences, current and past. And it became very rewarding, but it also became very taxing, in the sense that these are very profound, and at times graphic, conversations that we were having and taking away, and there’s a certain amount of weight that you end up carrying following those conversations. Because we aren’t, and don’t claim to be, therapists or counselors or psychologists. And we don’t give advice; we don’t preach; we just speak about ourselves and our truths. Otherwise, that becomes pandering, or even more dangerously, like counseling, which is not something we can do. So I had to ask myself whether we were doing the right thing as a band, as a scene, as a society. That’s where the exploration began. And it was Ben’s idea to turn the record into a concept record about someone we call The Poet and his journey in between life and death, suicidal thoughts and stability. It’s been a really rewarding process, and it was obviously very sensitive subject matter that I hope we’ve dealt with in the utmost respect. It was just time for us to dream that big, write a record this ambitious, and really just embrace taking risks. I don’t see as many bands as I’d like to in the scene taking risks or really embracing who they truly are instead of who they are expected to be.
TYF: That’s awesome. There’s a song that’s going to be on that album called “The Handwritten Letter”; I thought that was a really cool title. Do you want to elaborate on what that song’s about?
Walters: That song is like a love letter written to music. It’s about how music can be there for you as a friend, as a therapist, as a shoulder to cry on. More explicitly, that song is about a handwritten letter given to The Poet, not dissimilarly to how we have handwritten letters given to us every single day, and it’s about The Poet as an artist and a musician talking about his mental health, mental health in general. And it is a letter about how his art is comforting and soothing and just kind of… I don’t know, just “comforting” is the word. And it’s about experiences that we’ve had. And I understand what it’s like to need music as the only other voice that kind of understands or listens. So yeah, that song was about written about music in an almost romantic kind of sense. But the coolest thing about that song is that we reached out to some of our long-time and most devoted fans and asked them to talk about how music helps them on a daily basis to get through the day. They are part of the music and the album now—not even in a small way, in a pretty obvious way. It’s very cool.
TYF: Yeah, that’s super cool. If you could be pen pals with anybody in the world, who would you choose?
Walters: That is so interesting. Um… I feel like Justin Pierre from Motion City Soundtrack has been such a huge influence to me, somebody that I’ve never gotten to meet despite being in the scene now. They were kind of before our time, but a band that I have loved for such a very long time. I would love to be able to see the inner workings of his mind a little bit more.
TYF: That’d be super cool. When’s the last time you’ve written a handwritten letter?
Walters: That’s a really good question.
TYF: Thank you.
Walters: I don’t handwrite as many letters as I’d like to, but I believe that’s a really nice sentiment, more personal than just typing or texting or whatever. All my lyrics are still handwritten. I write lyrics every other day or so. Those are kind of like diary entries, almost, so it’s not dissimilar. They’re always handwritten. I could never write lyrics on a laptop or type into my phone or whatever. That would just be crazy.
TYF: Do you keep a diary?
Walters: I never did. I never did. I guess lyrics have always served as that same kind of outlet. No, I never kept a diary or a journal and I don’t really know why. I don’t really know why, because it feels like the kind of thing I’d really love and benefit from. It’s just never been me, I guess.
TYF: I feel that. I’m very interested in the whole letter concept because this summer, I started being pen pals with a bunch of people, and it’s been a lot of fun.
Walters: That’s very cool. What was your introduction to that world?
TYF: That’s a good question. My best friend from kindergarten and I moved to different schools when we were in elementary school still, but we didn’t have emails or anything yet, so we’d keep in touch with handwritten letters. And then we decided to start that up again between the two of us so we could have physical copies of our communication.
Walters: I like that.
TYF: And then it hit me that I could do that with my other friends as well.
TYF: So I’ve been receiving letters every week this summer, and it’s just fantastic.
Walters: Very cool. Very cool.
TYF: Yup. If you were to travel into any fictional world, which world would you choose?
Walters: What instantly sprang to mind was Harry Potter. (Pauses) Or the Pokémon world. I think Pokémon means more to me, but there’s just so much more to the Harry Potter world. (Pauses to think again) Oh! That is an impossible choice between those two. Um… I have two Pokémon tattoos. I’m gonna have to say Pokémon.
TYF: Amazing. That’s funny, because I’ve been asking other bands about Pokémon.
TYF: What are your Pokémon tattoos?
Walters: I have the original four Pokéballs—the Pokéball, the Great Ball, the Ultra Ball, and the Master Ball—on my ankle, and then around my knees, the original eight gym badges. I’m a big nerd.
TYF: That’s super cool.
Walters: Thank you.
TYF: So the question that I’ve been asking everybody about Pokémon is, “If you were to have any Pokémon follow you around everywhere as your constant loyal companion, which one would you choose?”
Walters: Wow. This might be the hardest question I’ve ever been asked. (Thinks for a moment) My favorite Pokemon is either Dragonite or Lapras, so those are the two that come to mind. I think I’m gonna have to say Dragonite. I really like Dragonite. You could just kind of fly it around, and that would be quite fun. Like, surfing on Lapras’ back would be fun and all, but flying would be pretty cool. I’d be pretty down.
TYF: Oh, for sure.
Walters: Yeah. Great question.
TYF: Thank you. You also mentioned Harry Potter; which Hogwarts house are you?
Walters: Yeah. No questions, no doubts in my mind. Total Hufflepuff. I have the Newt Scamander scarf.
TYF: Oh, wow.
Walters: Yeah. I went to Harry Potter World in London. I’m definitely a Hufflepuff, 100 percent. And proud.
TYF: Awesome. What other tattoos do you have?
Walters: I have quite a few, covering my legs, mostly. I have some emoticons to remind me of my YouTube days. I have a straightedge tattoo on my knees that I really like. I have some album artworks and some band tattoos; I have Hidden in Plain View and The King Blues. I’ve got Tom Servo, which is a character from my favorite TV show. It’s called Mystery Science Theater 3000. That was also the name of one of my first ever bands. I think that might be all of them… Actually, no. On my wrist I have a tattoo that says “remember right now,” which is a Spitalfield record, but it’s also just [a reminder] to always be sentimental, always be appreciative, because even the mundane stuff about touring, like going to Walmart or sleeping in the van… It’s still ultimately my dream.
TYF: Yup. So you’re straightedge?
TYF: I’m straightedge as well.
Walters: Very cool! I always have been. I didn’t know about straightedge culture, that genre of music, until I was 15. But yeah, I’ve been straightedge all my life, and I’ve been vegan since I was 17.
TYF: Very cool. Do you find that it’s been difficult at any point, or…
Walters: No! What’s funny is a lot of people are like, “Oh, I really admire you being straightedge,” and it’s like, I’ve just never been tempted in that way. I don’t know. You can’t really admire somebody for doing what they want all the time. (Laughs)
Walters: Yeah, it’s not a temptation of mine. I can’t imagine myself living any other way. I love being surrounded by people that do enjoy alcohol and whatever. It does make life a little more interesting, but for me, it just would not be the right choice. And I think it’s a really smart lifestyle for anyone who really wants to get to know themselves better. There’s fewer places to run and hide, for better or for worse, if you know what I mean.
TYF: And you can remember the moment.
Walters: Yeah. I end up being the one who remembers in the most detail things that were said and done nights before. So I kind of serve as this… I just tell fairy tales from tours that my own bandmates can’t really remember. That’s quite fun.
TYF: Yeah, that’s fantastic. What are your favorite movies?
Walters: I really love John Hughes movies. So I love The Breakfast Club; I love Some Kind of Wonderful; I love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; I love Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I like a lot of horror films. I watch a lot of horror films. And then I love Studio Ghibli films. Have you seen many of those, like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo? Love those.
TYF: Yeah! I’d say my favorite is probably either Ponyo or Spirited Away.
Walters: So I have two bunnies at home, and they’re named Ponyo and Sosuke.
TYF: Oh my gosh!
Walters: This is them.
(Walters shows me the following photo of Ponyo and Sosuke, which is also his iPhone lock screen)
TYF: Aww, they’re so cute!
Walters: They just kinda roam around the house. And they have a little box.
TYF: So cute. Which character do you identify most with in The Breakfast Club?
Walters: Oh, wow. I think I identify with the Basket Case and the Princess most. I was never nerdy in an academic sense, and I was never really a jock at all, and I was never rebellious. So I think the Princess and the Basket Case are what I relate to most.
TYF: Super cool. And horror movies… What are your favorite horror movies?
Walters: That is such a good question. I really liked the Conjuring films. I think they’re pretty good. Cabin in the Woods is just nuts… bizarre, but really great. (Sighs contemplatively) I don’t know if I have a favorite. I was watching a couple more recent ones, and I think there was one called… The Ritual or something? It was pretty recent.
TYF: It’s a tough question.
Walters: I’m gonna say some of my favorite horror films are really bad horror films. I love movies that are really bad—like, so bad they’re good. Troll 2 is one of those; Manos: The Hands of Fate is another one. There’s so many horror movies that are so bad. They’re so funny. Birdemic: Shock and Terror…
TYF: I’ve heard that one is really bad. I have not seen it yet.
Walters: It’s awful. I went to the UK premiere of that film and it was just such a good time. The director was there. We were all laughing and it was amazing.
TYF: Oh my gosh, that’s great. What do you find the scariest in horror films? Is it spiritual horror or serial killers or things based on true stories…
Walters: So, like, The Strangers is one that really messes me up, and that’s because it’s just so possible. There’s nothing supernatural about it. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it. It’s just people that are sadistic and bored and that’s…
Walters: Like, that’s so creepy! For that reason, The Strangers is one that messes me up.
TYF: You said you like movies that are so bad that they’re good. Have you seen The Room?
Walters: (Immediately) I love The Room.
TYF: The Room! Oh my gosh.
Walters: The Room is one of my favorite films of all time. I saw The Disaster Artist when it came out. I read The Disaster Artist when it came out.
TYF: I haven’t read it yet.
Walters: It’s really good! The film actually does a really good job of covering everything that Greg [Sestero] talks about in that book. The Room, I’ve seen arguably more times than any other film. I’ve been to see it in screenings…
TYF: No way! I haven’t done that yet.
Walters: Not with Tommy [Wiseau] there, but I’ve been to watch it with a cinema full of people that know every single line. And it’s one of my favorite films ever.
TYF: What’s your favorite absurdity in The Room?
Walters: Oh my God, where do you even start? (Laughs) I just love when they play football in tuxedos and they kind of acknowledge that doesn’t make any sense, but they do it anyway… And in that same scene is that story about that guy with his underwear… That’s, like… That doesn’t make any sense.
TYF: He says it really weirdly, too. He’s like, “Me underwears.”
Walters: (Imitating the character Mike from The Room) “Me underwears!” And then there’s the line that’s like, “Anyway, tell me about your sex life.” That one’s a classic. Big fan of that. I just love that everyone loves and respects Johnny—not Tommy, but Johnny. Actually, you know what? One of my favorite things not many people know about is… Obviously, Tommy was the name of the actor, director, writer, blah, blah blah. But without giving away the ending, when the character Johnny does the most climactic thing in the film…
TYF: I love that you’re, like, trying to preserve…
Walters: …The integrity of the worst film ever made? (Laughs) At the most climactic moment, there’s a character called Denny. And he runs up to Johnny screaming, “Tommy, Tommy.” So he’s screaming the actor’s name, and they’ve left it in the film.
TYF: Oh my gosh! I never noticed that.
Walters: You need to watch it back now. He keeps saying, “Tommy, Tommy,” and it’s like, No! This is an emotional scene. (Laughs) The climax of this film, this awful film. And they couldn’t even get it right. It’s really funny.
TYF: I’d say that my favorite moment is probably when Denny’s on the rooftop and you find out about his drug deal.
Walters: (Imitating the character Chris-R from The Room) “Where’s my money, Denny?” (Imitating Denny) “Stop ganging up on me!”
TYF: And then there’s the part where Johnny is like, “Denny, don’t plan too much. It might not come out right!” when he’s literally just talking about what movie he wants to see.
Walters: Yeah, exactly. Johnny’s always gotta be profound. Always the good guy. It’s such a good film. Soooo good.
TYF: I love The Room. I’m going to be Lisa for Halloween.
Walters: Love that. Love that. Which scene? Red Dress Lisa, or… What other Lisas are there? It’s mostly just Red Dress Lisa, isn’t it?
TYF: I’m thinking Red Dress Lisa because that’s the iconic one, but it could also be fun to be Lisa with the tie around her head.
Walters: (Laughs) That’s very true. They drink Scotch and vodka poured together, so just carry around Scotch and vodka with a tie around your head. That could be pretty cool.
TYF: Exactly. Man, what a film. All right; is there anything else that you’d like to tell the readers and fans before we end the interview?
Walters: Thanks for liking us. You make us really happy.