Sasquel Exum (top), Bobby Guidi, Alex Klump (front) and Tyler Milka of Fluorescents // Courtesy of Brandy Leigh

Premiere: Fluorescents grows into a new era with ‘Dead End Conversations’ EP, new video

Fluorescents pushes its pop-punk game up another level with its new EP release.

In the spring, when Chicago pop-punk foursome Fluorescents dropped “Dormancy,” the first single off today’s new EP “Dead End Conversations,” it spoke of periods of transition, of living up to your potential. The rest of the tracks driving this five-song pop-punk release dive into even deeper topics as the young band — Sasquel Exum, Bobby Guidi, Alex Klump and Tyler Milka — has grown together even more.

Tyler and Sasquel answered a few questions about the new EP and plans for Fluorescents:

When Fluorescents released “Dormancy” this spring, there was a very clear message about how we all go through our own seasons in life. Is that a theme you carried throughout the new EP?

Tyler: Actually I feel like “Dormancy” was sort of wrapping up the whole “Seasons” theme that we incorporated into a lot of the “Losing Sleep” EP and of course in the single “Seasons.” When I penned the lyrics to “Dormancy” it was a lot like closing the book on the first era of Fluorescents, which was more introspective and personal. Moving forward into “Dead End Conversations,” I feel like we have figured our process of working together as a band. Bobby, Sasquel, Alex & myself all have such different musical backgrounds, but we’re rooted in pop-punk, and when we all work together to write you start to get what you’ll hear on “Dead End Conversations,” which we believe is our best material to date.

That release was also near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown of Chicago. How did the quarantines effect the rest of creating “Dead End Conversations”?

Tyler: Well, we had to cancel all of our shows, including a couple out of state runs and a big EP release show. It was a bummer for sure. We all played it safe and refrained from meeting in person during the first couple phases. Eventually June rolled around and we were able to get into the studio and track drums and just hang out for the first time since our last show in March.

Sasquel: We were supposed to release the EP at the end of June, but because of covid-19 we were unable to stick to our timeline. Recording dates got pushed back and production took a bit longer. The pandemic hit us hard because we had to cancel a bunch of shows lined up throughout the summer.

Fluorescents already had a strong pop-punk vibe and fun, energetic aesthetic with previous releases, but the five songs on “Dead End Conversations” are even more powerful. How do you feel you four have grown as artists with this new EP?

Sasquel: We really buckled down and figured out what we wanted out of “Dead End Conversations.” We wanted to blend all of our individual tastes and influences together and write music that shows who we are as individuals and as a band. I think that’s led to a bigger, more powerful sound for us.

Tyler: I think it came down to us really working together as a band & putting an emphasis on what we think are our strong suits. Bob absolutely crushed it on vocals for “T.A.S.T.” and “Not Another Pop-Punk Song.” Alex came in after five months of no practices and completely blew us away tracking drums in the studio. Sasquel’s got such an ear for hooks and keeps us rooted into that heavy EZ-core vibe. I feel like we have so much to work with and we’re just starting to scratch the surface.

“In My Head” seems like it grew from a conversation in that it feels pretty relatable and honest. Was that imagined or based on actual events?

Tyler: “In My Head” is quite a story in itself. I feel what I attempted to go for was the typical relationship where the couple is completely incompatible and it’s just a nightmare for both of them. One person is more introverted and sensitive and the other extroverted and maybe a little not so patient. It’s kind of like when you’re really into someone and your gut’s telling ya “RUN!” but that makes you want them even more! So you jump into this relationship only to find out it was never meant to be.

Fluorescents had built up quite a bit of momentum toward the end of last year and early 2020, headlining a nearly sold-out Subterranean Christmas show, a Michigan tour and with a number of big gigs in the works. How have you guys adjusted to the new situation and kept the musical spirit of Fluorescents going?

Sasquel: It’s been a bummer not being able to get out there and play shows. We’re just going with the flow and trying to keep interacting with people via social media. On the bright side, we’ve been able to put twice as much energy into writing and I think that’s really going to show with our future releases. Music has always been a part of us all our lives and I think having it temporarily taken away from us has made us appreciate the music, shows and fans even more. We’ll never take the music or Fluorescents for granted and our hunger to play has reached a new level.

What’s coming up next for Fluorescents?

Sasquel: We’re super excited for the next chapter of Fluorescents to come to life. We have some new tunes in our back pocket right now that are waiting to be recorded. The big booming instrumentals, catchy hooks and harmonies will knock your socks off.

Tyler: Yeah, we’re sitting on some of our best material by far. Just waiting for the right time to start buckling down on recording. Who knows, might just do a full length. We’ve got some other fun things planned in the meantime though so stay tuned!

Is there anything else about “DEC” you want to talk about?

Tyler: Personally, I really want to thank my brothers Bobby, Sasquel & Alex for truly giving this project their all. It hasn’t been an easy ride and I mean who could have predicted a world-wide pandemic. But man, I don’t think we’ve ever been this motivated and ready for the future. It’s wild to think about where we started, before this band was even a thought, we’ve all had some crazy times & it just kind of feels like it was all leading to something bigger. We’ve got so much to give the world & this is only the beginning. Hope everybody enjoys the EP & we look forward to the day we can play it for you live!

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