Ace Enders has been playing music in the public spotlight for a long time. He’s been in bands and signed to record labels for nearly a third of his life and played to countless audiences as his fan base has steadily grown for the better part of a decade. And yet, despite being past the appropriate age for a quarterlife crisis and still being many years away from one of the midlife variety, Enders has opted to make some big changes for himself. Returning to projects past while forging into uncharted sonic territories on his latest album, The World We Know, Enders might be one of few who have this music thing figured out.

With Enders having found success as the frontman for the Early November and as a solo musician, along with six years passing since he last released an album under the I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business banner, a return to the project might seem like an odd choice. For Enders, however, this band holds symbolic meaning for him more than anything.

“I just felt a bit of clarity. This band has always been ‘Don’t try, just do.’ That feeling is why I wanted to go back. It’s a great feeling when you just do it,” he says.

Opting to also self-release the album, Enders seems to have taken the “go big or go home” stance in embracing the do-it-yourself ethic.

“I’m at a point in my career where I know I’m not going to sell a million records. I’m not going to be this gigantic artist. Why try and fake that? Every record comes out, and the first week I’m always so nervous, like, ‘What’s going to happen?’” he says. “This record came out, and it’s been relaxing. All that matters is that people are seeing what I’m seeing in it.”

Enders’ mentality seems to have carried over into his songwriting for the album as well, with the usually pitch-perfect and slickly produced singer opting for a more organic and unpolished sound.

“It doesn’t sound perfect, but I hope that the one thing people take from it is that it’s honest,” he says of the album. “Not that the other albums weren’t honest, and every artist says the current album is their prized possession, but I really truly feel different about this. I feel like, I know it doesn’t sound good, but it makes up for all of that in how it feels. That’s all I could really ask for.”

Though the album’s tracks range from optimistic to heart wrenching, the one constant throughout is Enders never losing sight of realism. In a genre often plagued by mass outbreaks of shortsightedness and Peter Pan syndrome, Enders dares to approach songwriting from an adult perspective. But then, he does have some grown-up circumstances on his plate these days.

“I had a baby, and a lot of responsibility comes with that. The music business is going downhill. I’m not making much money, and that’s hard. It’s a struggle every month to pay bills, just like everyone else,” he says. “Everyone goes through that same epiphany like, ‘I’ve got to do something with my life, provide for the people who depend on me, provide for myself and learn how to be happy with myself’ – the normal things that every person goes through when they go to bed every night. I just tried to be realistic and honest to that.”

One listen to Enders’ signature emotive vocals over his atmospheric instrumentation on the album, and it’s easy to see that honesty show through, be it endearing or brutally raw.

“What radiates through this record a lot is looking at yourself and admitting that not everything you do is correct. Admitting that we’re all a little bit spiteful, a little bit bitter, a little bit jealous, and it’s OK,” says Enders. “Everything always looks better somewhere else, and you can sit there and feel sorry for yourself, and I have. But the truth is, success doesn’t come with a number,” he says. “It comes with someone saying, ‘Something you said in a song helped me get through this time in my life where I didn’t think I was going to make it.’ You can make a lot of money and you can lose a lot, which I have. But when my son gets older, he may talk to someone and they won’t say, ‘Your dad had a lot of money,’ they’ll say ‘Your dad helped me.’ That’s success.”

In addition to being one of the aforementioned few who have this industry figured out, Enders might be one of even fewer within that circle who actually has himself figured out as well.

The World We Know is currently available. I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business perform at Warped Tour June 25 (Carson), June 27 (Ventura) and Aug. 11 (Pomona). For more information, visit