Jakob Danger Armstrong, the 17-year-old son of Green Day‘s Billie Joe Armstrong and brother of SWMRS’ Joey Armstrong, recently paved his own pop-punk path when a few songs he posted on SoundCloud and YouTube made the rounds online, earning him a deal with Burger Records. The singer-songwriter and his band, performing under the name Jakob Danger, have a self-titled debut EP out today and are plotting a full-length. “I’m writing more songs, and I’m recording them by myself right now,” Danger tells Rolling Stone. “I guess I’ll keep writing, keep recording. The ultimate goal right now is to put an album out at some point. That’s what I’m going for”
When did you start writing your own songs?
I’ve been writing my own songs for a while now, but I’ve always just kept them to myself. The ones I put on SoundCloud, I wrote at the beginning of last year.
What kind of music were you listening to growing up?
My two favorite bands are the Strokes and Beach Fossils. I love those bands. All my music is kind of based off their stuff. I just love that style of music.
I definitely hear some Strokes influences on “Don’t Try.” Do you have a favorite album of theirs?
I love those first two albums, Is This It and Room on Fire. Those are great. If I had a favorite song, I like “Hard to Explain,” off the first album. That’s a great one. Those first two albums are awesome.
What or who encouraged you to start posting your songs online?
I wrote those songs — “King of the World” and “Don’t Try” — and I played them for my parents, because I wanted to share [the songs] with them. My dad told me to try and record them so I tried it out, and it sounded really great. So we started doing that with all my songs, and eventually we got it set up so I can just record it by myself. I’d play instruments on some of the tracks, and then I asked my brother if he wanted to play [on them] as well. That’s really how we got this going.
Does your brother, Joey, have any further involvement with the band, or was he just helping with the recording process?
Joey played on most of the recordings; I actually played drums on a few of them. On “King of the World” and “Don’t Try,” Joey played drums. In my band, I play with Chris Malaspina. He goes to my school, and I’ve known him forever. He’s a really great drummer, and we’ve been jamming. I also play with Enzo Malaspina, his little brother. Enzo plays bass. We’ve got a trio, which is great.
Have you guys started playing shows yet?
This is really new, so we just had our first show a few weeks ago at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records. We’re playing another one [there] on October 15th with this band called Radioactivity.
Congrats on having your first show! What does it feel like to be playing live as a band now?
It’s really fun! In some of the songs that I recorded, I kind of wanted to change a few things. It’s really fun to have guys I can work with, and we can change up songs and have fun with it. It’s so much fun. It’s amazing! I love it.
When did Burger Records approach you for a record deal?
They approached me at the end of the summer because my brother is pretty good friends with the guys at Burger. After I put my songs out, they heard them and were really stoked on them, so they asked my brother if he would talk to me about maybe doing a tape or doing something of that sort. We ended up doing an EP!
Were you a huge fan of Burger going into the deal?
Yeah, I love Burger Records. I love a bunch of the bands on the label. I like Dog Party a lot. They played with my brother a few times. They’re another one of my favorite bands!
It’s always refreshing to hear songs about being young written by actual teenagers. Do you have any other young or teen artists you admire right now?
I really like King Krule. He put out a bunch of solo stuff. He’s amazing. He’s so good. I love his stuff. I love Jack and Eliza. They have so many songs that are so cool. I love their guitar parts. Those are my two favorites.
Do you have any ideas on how you’ll balance high school with your music career?
I don’t actually know what I really want to do. There’s some stuff I want to do besides music. I like arts. I like acting. I like school, I guess, in general. I guess I’m just going to wait and see what I really want to do at that time and just keep going with music and see where I’m at next year. Then I’ll base everything off of that.
With your dad and brother both being musicians, were you even expecting to find yourself creating your own music and seeing people react the way they have to it?
I come from a musical family [laughs], but [the reaction] was awesome. I didn’t really read too much about what people were saying. I saw a few articles, like the Rolling Stone article you guys put out on Wednesday. That was awesome. It’s great how people have been reacting.
Can you tell me a little more about your other interests outside of music?
I love drawing and acting. Those are two things I’ve been doing since elementary school. I’m still acting, so I might go to an acting college or maybe an arts college. I’m not too sure. Definitely something in that area!
What are you listening to right now?
Oh, man. Let me look at my iTunes real quick [laughs]. Oh, that new Wavves album that came out? That is amazing. So good. I like the new Fidlar album that came out. I like the Beach Fossils album from last year, Clash the Truth. Those are probably the three albums I’ve been listening to the most right now.
Have people in your high school reacted to your record deal and your music getting so much attention?
There are a few people who have noticed. I’m actually surprised, but I don’t really talk about it. It’s kind of more of a personal thing. A few people have asked me about it, but other than that, it’s been nice not having to talk about it too much. It’s more of a personal accomplishment, definitely. This is my first time really sharing my music, and I don’t really know how to go about that [laughs].
Can you talk to me about some of your songwriting influences?
I write my songs about my life, I guess. “King of the World” is about … well, a lot of my songs are about girls [laughs]. “Don’t Try” is about how people always seem to think that the more you slack off, the cooler you are. I don’t know if you noticed, but the last chorus changes to “we can all try to win.” I’m saying that it’s nice to really care. It’s cool to care. “King of the World” is about me, I guess [laughs]. The second verse is talking about who I’m going to grow up to be and still figuring that out. They’re all about different parts of my life, and I write them at different moments.
Since he helped with the recording process, have you written with your brother at all?
I collaborate with my brother a lot, actually. I write all my lyrics by myself, generally, and Joey, on a few of the songs, worked with me. On “Friday Fields,” we worked together, and he came up with the drum parts. Most of the time, I’ll write the drum, bass and guitar parts. I have a really particular way I want them to sound. I definitely work with Joey a lot. We’ll collaborate a lot, and he’s such a good drummer.
Has your family given you advice on how to handle your first record deal?
They’re kind of letting me go about it on my own, for the most part. My brother has definitely given me the most advice, telling me things like when to share songs I’ve recorded. But they’ve mostly let me run free.