Interview: JT Tollas of Famous Last Words


I had a chance to sit down and send over some questions to JT Tollas, the mastermind behind Petoskey, MI’s Famous Last Words, check out what he had to say about the new album and the band’s future plans! Thanks to JT and James with Carry The 4 for allowing us the opportunity!

Your new album is completed and currently in the final stages, correct? What can you tell us about it, in terms of sound and overall atmosphere?

Jt: The new album is in the final stages of being mixed, so the anticipation is killing us just as much as it is killing our incredibly patient fans. The new album’s sound, is still very much going to be FLW, just a more matured FLW. We’ve toned down the constant chug breakdowns and the ton of layered screams, but it is still very aggressive and heavy at points. This album is very dynamic which creates incredibly powerful contrasts between all of the songs. Jesse Maddy is also no longer writing with us, so it’s definitely different, but in a great way which retains that fundamental FLW sound while showing growth to a fresh new sound. Honestly, I don’t think there is anything else out there that sounds like our new record. 

Is there anything you’d like to indulge about the record, exclusively for our readers?

Jt: The new record is similar to Two Faced Charade in the sense that it is a darker story, and the fact that the songs tell the story in chronological order. But like our last two albums, this one has a completely different vibe to it which is always refreshing to fans. 

 Of course, we already know that its a concept album (which fits perfectly alongside your labelmates at Revival Recordings.) What sparks the creativity to come up with these concepts?

Jt: I grew up listening to musicals, so I always wanted to write concept albums as close to the “musical theatre” sound as possible. After TFC, I was completely hooked. It’s an exciting, inspiring, fun, and painful process all at the same time, which is what I think helps give the different emotional layers to our albums.

The music video for the lead single, “Pretty in Porcelain,” is fast approaching but we haven’t heard much about it, outside of a couple of stills. What can you tell us about the single and what was the process in creating this video like?

Jt: As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve been keeping a lot of information secret regarding this new album and it’s concept. I gave a short synopsis not too long ago, but that’s probably all I will divulge to the public until we get closer to the release. 

The process of making the video was fairly simple though! It was a very simple set and simple layout. Charlie Anderson and I co-wrote the script for the video and I got to co-direct with him for the first time, so it was a blast. 

It’s rumored that there are 2 guest vocalists who will be on this album, a new territory for FLW… What made you decide to go this route?

 Jt: There are actually 4! 3 males and 1 female. It’s kind of crazy how it all turned out. Most of them were just hanging out at the studio during the 5 weeks we were there, heard what we were working on, and liked it enough to ask us if we were down to have them do a guest spot on it. It was an incredible honor having each vocalist lend us their invaluable talent for our record and we are extremely grateful to them. 

If the concept plays out well enough, do you think we could see a feature film, like we did with Two-Faced Charade?

 Jt: I love working on films and would absolutely love to make some sort of film for every one of our concepts. But as I’m sure you know, that is a pretty pricey endeavor. But with enough support from our amazing fans, anything is possible. Right?

What formats are you aiming to release the new album on, aside from digital? Any plans for a vinyl LP?

Jt:  I would LOVE to do another vinyl for this next album. There is something really special and sentimental about vinyl records. Other than that, we want to get really creative with the packaging for the physical cd itself, even more so than we did with COTD. I’m working with a company right now to put together a really unique, custom packaging for the album that will really blow our fans away. 

What is your favorite concept album and why?

 Jt: I’m not really sure, I’m more of a fan of writing them I guess. Like I said, my inspiration to write concept albums was mostly from musicals, not necessarily from other concept albums. There are also different types of concept albums out there. Some that follow a specific story, and some that are just loosely based concepts. I feel like the FLW concepts are different than most concept albums with how specific they are to the stories themselves. But some good ones out there to name a few are; A Night at The Opera (Queen), This Is How The Wind Shifts (Silverstein), On Frail Wings Of Vanity And Wax (Alesana), and Zombie EP (The Devil Wears Prada).

Is writing a concept album more challenging, you feel, than writing a traditional record?

 Jt: I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty solid concept formula down to where it’s almost more natural for me to write a concept album than a traditional album. I’ve worked hard on perfecting this formula. And honestly, with how much I love telling stories, I think I just enjoy writing concept albums more! It’s a great, creative, and fun way to tell the crazy stories I come up with, while also putting out deeper meanings and messages, through the stories, about life and the human psyche. 

Last but certainly not least, when can we expect to hear the first single, what is the timeframe for the new album and what’s next for Famous Last Words, after the album is released (or surrounding it’s release?)

 Jt: We are still finishing the mixing/ mastering process, but the video for the single has been shot and edited. Now, we are just trying to get the best rollout plan together to deliver this material that we have been tirelessly perfecting for our many (incredibly patient) fans and ourselves. We are hoping for a late summer/ early fall release, and once the album is out I can guarantee you will see us touring anywhere and everywhere we can to get this music to our deserving fans.

 Unfortunately, that’s all I’ve got but I really appreciate you taking the time to do this and look forward to hearing the new music. Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans, our readers and the general public?

 Jt: Thank you all for your amazing support, inspiring encouragement, and relentless patience. Perfection takes time, and perfection is what you all deserve.

Thanks everyone!

Check out their latest music video for “One in the Chamber/The End of the Beginning” from Council of the Dead below:

Pick Up FLW Merch
MerchNow | MerchBucket

Visit Famous Last Words on Social Media:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Famous Last Words is:
JT – Vocals
Twitter: @Jt_tollas
Instagram: @jtflw

Craig Simons – Drums
Twitter/Instagram: @craigflw

Tyler Myklebust- Guitar
Twitter @TyTyWoot
Instagram: @tytywoot

Mathew Bell – Bass
Twitter/Instagram: @mattflw

Evan Foley – Guitar
Twitter: @FLWevan
Instagram: @evanflw