Jaden Hossler will not bullshit you.
“I didn’t grow up listening to punk music,” he says. “I didn’t fall in love with it immediately.”
Just days before the release of his debut album Tell Me About Tomorrow — a deliriously catchy pop-punk effort produced and shepherded by Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker — the 20-year-old singer and TikTok star admits that only last year did he begin listening to bands like Taking Back Sunday, Finch and Silverstein. He discovered the Descendants only because he was about to wear the band’s t-shirt in a music video.
He might have never indulged in the stuff at all, if not for his favorite acts — Juice WRLD, XXXTentacion and Lil Uzi Vert — declaring their preferred groups were all rock bands.
Now, he’s obsessed.
“I’m really just trying to learn more and more,” Hossler tells SPIN, on Zoom from his Los Angeles home. “It’s very organic, as if I was in high school having my own punk phase.”
As an industry newcomer, it’s understandable that Hossler, who goes by jxdn (pronounced “Jaden”), is still trying to figure things out. But calling his pivot to music a “punk phase” is, to quote New Found Glory, an understatement, considering his 6 million monthly Spotify listeners.
And the dude can really sing.
Back in his Chattanooga, Tennessee hometown, Hossler starred in his high school musicals and sang in the choir. And with help from a vocal coach (“She’s changed my life, seriously”), he’s stretching his versatile chops even further, on full display in his propulsive, viral cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s “driver’s license.”
Though Hossler says he’s had to defend his talent.
“People online were like ‘there’s no way this is him [singing],” he says. “I work really hard for what I do. I don’t want to be an average singer. I want to be able to sing anything.”
Hossler touts plenty of tatted-up swagger, too, mirroring his idol and new friend, Machine Gun Kelly. Pop-punk’s latest flag-bearer provides a guest vocal on jxdn’s bombastic new track “Wannabe,” and the artists’ shared affinity for hip-hop-inspired grit and pop polish is apparent. And much like MGK’s guitar-forward Tickets to My Downfall, which debuted atop the Billboard albums chart last fall — besting Taylor Swift’s folklore — about a half-dozen songs off jxdn’s Tell Me About Tomorrow feel destined for mainstream crossover. It may just be a matter of time.
Last spring, Jxdn became the first signee to Barker’s new DTA Records label after self-releasing just one song, a hooky trap-punk single called “Comatose.” The song’s streams quickly climbed into the millions, courtesy of Hossler’s fame on social media, where lip-sync videos that began in 2019 led to a management deal and relocation to Los Angeles. Hossler moved into Sway House, a Bel Air mansion and content creation factory occupied by fellow TikTok stars, before venturing out on his own, around the same time he was courted by Barker.
“Then every label in the United States of America hit me up — that’s how much notoriety Travis has,” Hossler says.
Hossler first met Barker at Crossroads Kitchen in L.A., the trendy vegan restaurant where the storied drummer is an investor. Hossler immediately knew he’d found his mentor.
“He treated me as an artist even though I only had one song out,” Hossler says. “I really just felt appreciated. I saw the potential in Travis and he saw potential in me — he’s really the only reason I’m here doing this shit today.”
Barker, the Godfather of pop-punk’s unlikely resurgence — whose collaborations range from genre revivalists MGK, Mod Sun and Yungblud to superstars Demi Lovato and Halsey — produces and plays drums on all 18 of jxdn’s new tracks. He’s also the first voice heard on the album, hyping up his new apprentice: “Yo, I think I just found the first artist I’m gonna sign to DTA Records,” he says, in a faux voicemail. “This kid is next. His name is Jxdn.”
“Jxdn brings a new, young energy for the next wave of pop-punk,” Barker tells SPIN via email. “We took time to really think everything out and make sure the album would be a complete body of work from front to back. And that’s exactly what it is.”
Jxdn’s album, out Friday, draws heavily from the patently energizing Blink-182 sound, even interpolating lines from the band’s 2003 hit “Feeling This” on his lovesick newbie “A Wasted Year.”
“I really, really love that song,” Hossler says of “Feeling This.” “It’s such a good mirror of what old music used to be like.”
“Old music?!” this 31-year-old interviewer whines. Hossler laughs.
“You want it to be old at this point so we can bring it back!” he quips. “I want to be a part of the new wave.”
Like MGK, for whom jxdn will open shows this summer on tour — his first string of live performances — the singer’s lyricism is regularly steeped in darkness, namely his real-world struggles with anxiety and depression.
“I wanna be alright, I wanna be okay, I’m sick of the nightmares, sick of the bad days,” he wails on “Wannabe,” which builds to an explosive moment in its bridge as Jxdn full-throat screams “I don’t wanna feel like this!”
“Life never stops throwing shit at you,” Hossler says, adding his past few months have been “really hard.”
The album’s most addictive moments, however, come courtesy of several heartache anthems, like the deeply infectious “Think About Me” — a cut designed for windows-down, roadtrip belting — and the moodier “No Vanity,” which reminds of Matt Skiba’s towering vocal on “No Heart to Speak Of,” from Blink’s 2019 Nine record.
The thinly veiled bravado of the album’s first single “Angels and Demons,” whose “fuck me like a rock star” hook plays more like a Post Malone song, is an outlier as Tell Me About Tomorrow is, in totality, tightly tethered to this moment’s pop-punk reignition.
But Hossler has no interest in being labeled as Blink 2.0, or just another pretty face on TikTok trying to release a few songs to fuel the brand.
“All I can do is just be who I am,” he says, when asked if he feels extra pressure, shifting from social media fame to music. “There’s not a single doubt in my mind that I was meant to perform.
Jxdn hopes Tell Me About Tomorrow will be received as a “symbol of hope” for fans, some of whom have already reached out in support of his singles.
“People tell me that my music saved their lives,” he says, “and I would never be like ‘oh, I bet,’ because Juice WRLD, literally, his music saved my life. That’s my goal, to do that for other people.”