Bio : Arrested Youth
Honesty is the best policy, but that adage is most powerful when applied to music. For Arrested Youth, started by Ian Johnson in 2017, truth is the impetus behind any good song. It’s why Ian writes lyrics and why fans connect to his songs so strongly. For his first studio album, 'Nonfiction,' Ian offers a glimpse into his struggles - and triumphs - over the last year.
"These are songs about where I was at in my life and what I was going through,” Ian says of 'Nonfiction,' which follows Arrested Youth’s EPs, FEAR (2018) and Sobville (2019). “I’m here to tell my story, for better or worse. Writing this album has helped put a lot of things into perspective for me, and I hope it can do the same for others.”
It’s a common saying that honesty is the best policy, but the adage is most powerful when applied to music. For Arrested Youth, started by Ian Johnson in 2017, truth is the impetus behind any good song. It’s why Ian writes lyrics and it’s also why fans connect to his songs so strongly. For his first studio album, Nonfiction, Ian wanted to be as real as possible, offering a glimpse into his struggles – and triumphs – over the last year.
“These are very honest songs about where I was at in my life and what I was going through,” Ian says of Nonfiction, which was written during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic with producer John Feldmann (Blink-182, The Used). “My stuff has always been honest, but it’s been more observational. I’m always there to tell my story, for better or worse. The challenge was to be as personal as possible and do it in an interesting way. How do I write a song that shows some of my struggles but also some of my resilient qualities as a human?”
For Ian, who studied business in college before pivoting to music, Nonfiction was also an opportunity to showcase a variety of inspirations, from hip-hop to rock to pop, all under the umbrella of alternative music. He and Feldmann worked in the studio together in Los Angeles during the first few months of the pandemic before Ian moved back home to upstate New York to the small town of Canaan, a place he feels a strong kinship with. It was a process of self-discovery for the musician, who found himself questioning how he wanted to participate in the music industry and what sort of career he wanted to have. The blunt, thoughtful songs reflect someone who genuinely wants to change for the better.
“When I wrote these songs they felt really true to my experience, but now they make me a little bit uncomfortable because I’ve grown since then,” Ian reflects. “And the proof of my growth is in the lyrics. I’m proud of that. Every song on this album feels bold in what it says.”
The album’s 15 tracks have a fearless, authentic sensibility, commenting on everything from the state of the industry (“Paul McCartney” and “1984”) to the lack of intimacy in the modern digital world (“Ego”). The songs grapple with mental health challenges, as showcased on hard-hitting “98 Degrees,” and on pensive single “Leave My Casket Open.” “Find My Own Way,” the first song Ian wrote with John, features Blink-182 singer Mark Hoppus, who adds his voice to Ian’s queries about self-doubt and struggling to find your own way. “It was an honor to have Mark Hoppus get involved with the song,” Ian notes. “He adds a lot of depth, demonstrating that everyone is finding their way. It’s a lifelong process.”
Nonfiction follows Arrested Youth’s two EPs, 2018’s FEAR and 2019’s Sobville. To date, the musician’s songs have amassed over 100 million streams on Spotify and Apple Music. Arrested Youth has shared stages with YUNGBLUD, The Mowgli's, Dreamers, Jukebox the Ghost and Grandson. Arrested Youth was set to perform at the 2020 Reading and Leeds Festivals, which were postponed along with plans for U.S./CA touring with Palaye Royal and a headlining run in 2020. With concerts resuming worldwide, Arrested Youth is looking forward to performing his new material on live stages. Nonfiction represents the next leap in Arrested Youth’s career, showcasing an ever-evolving artist whose desire to find himself is as relatable as his lyrics.
“I learned a lot through the creation of Nonfiction,” Ian says. “When it was finished, I had to face myself and decide where I wanted to go next in my life and career. This album has helped put a lot of things into perspective for me, and I hope it can do the same for others.”