Machine Gun Kelly says his new pop-punk album “is gonna make the demand for guitar music go up”

Machine Gun Kelly
(Image credit: Press)

We recently reported on rap star Machine Gun Kelly’s ambitions to bring back the electric guitar with his new album, the Travis Barker-featuring Tickets to My Downfall.

Now MGK has gone into detail about the challenges inherent in actually doing such a thing in 2020, telling NME about the “general confusion” he faced from Interscope label execs when he announced his plans to make a pop-punk album, and then proceeding to dance on a conference room table as the music played.

“I’m up there spreading my passion and my belief in the music I’m playing,” he said of the moment that went viral – and was roundly mocked – on Twitter.

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Tickets to My Downfall, of course, has since hit Number One on the US charts. It’s also the first record on which MGK has ever played guitar. As he told NME, he wants to inspire a new generation to pick up instruments and form bands.

“I want young kids to be comfortable to pick up a guitar and try,” MGK said, “because that was an important thing with me. It wasn’t like I was on some Prince shit where the first time the world saw me I was nailing it. I had to struggle to get here.”

The article chronicles Kelly’s history with guitar, from learning the instrument as a child growing up in Cleveland to playing in a a Blink-182-influenced pop-punk band called the Dumb Bunny Trio as a teen.

MGK lost interest in guitar once the rap bug took hold, but came back to the instrument in 2017 when, he says, he needed a new hobby after realizing “you can only drop so much acid”.

He credits his rock re-awakening in part to Travis Barker, and also to British pop-rocker and sometime collaborator Yungblud, of whom he says, “We’re like Elton John and Jimi Hendrix back in the day.”

Finally, MGK outlines his big hopes for Tickets to My Downfall.

“This album might be the reason why bands of our generation, instead of the Foo Fighters, Green Day or one of those established artists, get to headline Coachella and shit like that – because this album is gonna make the demand for guitar music go up! It’s tapped into the new generation of kids, the 13-to-18-year-olds, that those bands I just named can’t reach at this point.”

He continues that he made the album as a “love letter” to the pop-punk genre.

“I get that people are saying: ‘How the fuck did Machine Gun Kelly make the fucking biggest rock record of the year?' he says. 

“I get that concept sucks for some people, and it may not have been your choice – but it fucking happened.” 

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.