If you’re anything like us, you’ve been waiting for more information on Heffron Drive‘s upcoming acoustic album. Well, take a deep breath, PopCrushers, because we got all of the details on Happy Mistakes Unplugged — straight from Kendall Schmidt himself! From which tracks are included to where it was recorded to the very, very special guest vocalist, Kendall gave us all of the info on the project. And, because he’s super awesome, he even shared an exclusive teaser, which you can view in the video on our Instagram!
I’m really excited for this album!
Thank you! I’m excited about it too. A lot of very passionate and loving work was put into it, so I’m happy that it’s coming out. It was a lot of fun to make.
How did the idea for an acoustic album come about?
It’s always been something that you think about, at least in the music that I grew up listening to. I listened to a lot of pop-punk bands — honestly, I’ll even venture to say emo bands — and oftentimes they would make acoustic records for their otherwise more intense songs, and I always thought it was kind of cool. My music is far less emo than the stuff that I listened to, but it’s still the same thing. I always kind of thought it would be cool to do acoustic renditions of everything. Plus, honestly, I play acoustically all the time because it costs money to get a band moving around places. A lot you’ll just be playing acoustic.
Do you have an official name for the album?
Happy Mistakes Unplugged. I was saying Happy Mistakes Acoustic for a while, but the album artwork, you will find out later, lends itself to being “unplugged.”
Is Happy Mistakes Unplugged the same songs as the original album, just acoustic?
You’re exactly right. The deluxe record of Happy Mistakes had 16 songs, the regular one had 11, but one of them was a minute-and-a-half interlude kind of thing. So we pretty much copied the regular record, which was 11 songs, and we didn’t do the interlude because it was kind of a weird synth-y kind of thing. We didn’t do an acoustic version of that. It’s 10 songs and it’s in the same order that the actual album is, and they’re each a little different. There’s a surprise guest on one of the songs, which I’m really anticipating that everyone — I mean, everyone that knows about it [is excited] and I think there’s a lot of other people who will be excited too.
“Unplugged” reminds me of early-2000s acoustic albums.
That was me growing up in music … You’re 26, I’m 24 … Two years is not that much, so we were listening to the exact same content. I used to listen to all that unplugged stuff. When AOL Sessions used to be at their biggest, you know? That was always cool. I used to love that. It’s sort of a nostalgic thing for me to release an acoustic record, but I think I don’t really see a reason not to do it for every big record you put out full-length because you end up playing acoustically a lot … You might as well let the people hear what they want to hear.
Did you ever listen to the Punk Goes Acoustic compilation albums?
Yes, absolutely. Those are the ones I was talking about … One of my favorite songs in general is “Cute Without the E” by Taking Back Sunday and their unplugged version — maybe they have more than one — but at least the one I have on my phone and I’ve had for a long time, it’s honestly, it’s weird because they kind of sound awful at parts, but that’s sort of what makes it so great. They sound like they really don’t care and it was recorded maybe in a hotel room. That’s one of my favorites of all time, that one.
“It’s sort of a nostalgic thing for me to release an acoustic record, but I don’t see a reason not to do it for every big record you put out.”
Did you record your unplugged album in any cool places?
Actually, I did it in my home studio. TOLBooth Records is my record label and this is the studio that I built to do everything. It’s the first body of work that was 100 percent completed in-house. That’s honestly why I’m super stoked for it. Another reason, because it was a huge amount of actual work to do, and it was something that I wanted to take on myself as a producer. Obviously, Dustin [Belt] was a huge part of the recording process, but it’s something that I really wanted to take full responsibility on. It turned out really cool.It’s kind of ironic because my favorite kind of music, at least stuff that I just lean toward, usually has some kind of electronic content or is upbeat in some way. Whenever I play people my acoustic stuff, they’re always like, “I love that so much more!” And I’m like, [laughs] “Alright, cool. Well, I’m glad the acoustic versions of the huge versions I spent so much time on are what people actually enjoy.” I think it’s kind of interesting.
I think it’s a huge compliment in a way. You’re not hiding behind really great production, but you sound great when it’s just you and a guitar.
Thank you. Besides one part on one song, on “Had to Be Panama,” besides this one small part, the entire album is just one lead vocal. No layering of anything. It’s just all of the vocals you hear, it’s just one lead vocal throughout the whole song. It’s something I wanted to try. In actual pop production of music, of course you layer vocals and stuff like that. Lots of people have different techniques about it, but I just wanted to use as few tracks as possible for it, so we just kept it to one — besides the guest vocal. I’m excited because it’s very unexpected. Especially since the person who did it is kind of a mysterious person. I’m very excited about it.
Do you have a favorite song to perform acoustically?
I was doing some live session stuff recently, so I got to perform five of them tons of times. Tons of takes. I got really familiar with quite a few of them and I think of those, the ones I’ve played the most — “Art of Moving On” is a song I really like performing acoustically because I really get into the vocals. Not for every guitarist, but some guitar parts are really hard to sing and play at the same time. When there’s a song where I get to kind of take a break and do a regular strum pattern and I can kind of focus on the vocals, I really appreciate it. That’s “Art of Moving On,” so I really enjoy doing that one.