John "Feldy" Feldmann: Sometimes you have a gut feeling about songs. I knew "Homecoming King" was going to be the first song on the record. At one point I thought it was going to be the name of the album. If you look at Andy's face, and you look at who he is, he's a Homecoming King for a generation of kids. I had the concept. For all these misunderstood, darkened kids, the new goth, he has been a spokesperson for them. I thought it was the coolest idea, imagining a scene out of Carrie, with the pig's blood and all that—he's fucking owning all the blonde hair, tan jock kids.
Simon Wilcox, my favorite lyricist—when I bring in other lyricists, she's just an unbelievable woman—I brought her in. The energy is always so great with her in the studio. We started writing the song on the piano. Andy came in with the idea that he wanted to make a record that was somewhere between Depeche Mode and Bruce Springsteen. That was the vision for the album. My job was to make sure he stayed on course, you know, when the artist tries to pull it away like a 'Oh, no, let's do an Avenged [Sevenfold] kind of thing,' to keep it in line with the original vision of the record.
Simon started playing this Meatloaf sort of thing. The song wrote itself. Andy started writing lyrics as I was playing piano. I think Ashton [Irwin] from 5 Seconds of Summer started playing drums on that song. It could be my favorite song on the album because it's so unique. It keeps the essence of goth Springsteen in it.
The idea is "fuck the Homecoming King, I am the Homecoming King, but fuck the Homecoming King." It's the global message of, Who am I, what does it all mean, something everyone struggles with. Juliet [Sims] sings on it too.
It has this almost Pink Floyd b-section in the chorus as well that's so ethereal-sounding. I knew it was going to be the first song only because it's so weird, almost like a prog-rock song because of the structure of it. It's such a weird song. If you can get through that song, you can get through the rest of the record.