Life Lessons: 'I Know What I’m Not' helped them find what they are
Oklahoma City-based pop punkers Life Lessons had quite a July. They dropped a new EP, I Know What I'm Not, toured the East coast with Sudden Suspension and, when I chatted with them, were catching their breath after playing a set in Cleveland, Ohio. They're 15 hours from home, and people knew their lyrics—saying they were blown away would be an understatement.
But it's moments like this that they've experienced on the road, and touring on their most recent release has been their top priority. “We’re just trying to tour hard right now. Get in front of people. That’s all that matters,” says vocalist Kaden Birdsong. “If we get in front of people, we think, and hope, that we can impress them.”
“We hope that we can make a good impression,” chimes in guitarist Alex Akins. “Or at least some kind of impression.”
And an impression is what they’ve made—whether they want to admit to it or not. Hailing from Oklahoma City, Life Lessons have been recording and releasing music since 2013. But it was 2015’s What The Silence Meant, their first “real” EP, with Birdsong on vocals, Akins on guitar, Chris Lewis on drums, Josh O'Dell on guitar/vocals and Andrew Wasson on bass, that truly solidified what the band wanted to become.
After years of developing their sound in a home scene saturated with hardcore, the pop punkers have found a mix between emo and pop punk, with ardent vocals, dynamic guitar riffs and thundering drum beats reflecting the likes of Knuckle Puck and The Wonder Years.
Coming from an area where hardcore reigns supreme, the guys had to find what they wanted to create—and make that stick. “When we started writing the songs for this last EP, that is when we started feeling really confident in what we were doing. We were like, ‘No, we’re making solid music. We need to tour. We need to push.’ I’m proud of where we are right now," says Birdsong. "We’re going hard. Oklahoma needs to be put on the map by a couple bands.”
Oklahoma City may not be a pop punk capital of the world—the scene isn’t as saturated as Chicago, or even Cleveland, where the guys are at tonight. But there’s a spark there. Young people are starting bands and coming out to shows. The guys think back to 2012 when the scene was thriving, and they’re excited to see that there's life flowing back through it again. They don’t see a positive response to their EP as simply a testament to themselves—it’s for the local scene as a whole.
“It’s kind of nice for the community, as opposed to just ourselves,” says Akins. “The people that were around then know what it was like, as opposed to the newer kids that when you show them one of the videos [from 2012], they’re just like, ‘That’s a local show?’ ‘Yeah, that’s a local headliner.’”
“The rest of us that were around feel like all the big shows, yeah, we finally have that again,” says Birdsong. “These kids are like, ‘Woah, where did this come from?’"
And this local response is enough to keep the fire going. After a solid release and an exciting year of touring ahead, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they're making a name for themselves. “The EP release show and tour kick off was the first time we’ve been like, ‘Oh shit, there are so many people watching us.’ It was awesome,” says Birdsong. “It was the first time we’ve been like, ‘Damn, if we could do this everywhere, it’d be amazing.’”
And if the humble guys keep up the pace they're at now, they might just be the next big thing.
Want more Life Lessons? Pick up a copy of I Know What I'm Not here, and check out their social links below.