We Came As Romans' Dave Stephens explains how and why his band are fighting back with their new album 'Cold Like War'.
THE NEW ALBUM SOUNDS FRUSTRATED. DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD SOMETHING TO PROVE THIS TIME AROUND?
Says Dave Stephens (vocals): “Yeah, in all honesty it was a really frustrating record to make. Especially since it seemed that the majority of the music industry turned their back on us during our last record cycle and a lot of people had written us off.
“We were at the point where our backs were against the wall and we had a lot to prove - not only to ourselves and the music industry - but we had to hold on to our career.
“We had a lot to prove to our fans too, a lot of our fans were doubting us as well. So it was a scary time for us. We knew we had to make something great so we shut down for a year. We didn’t tour, play shows... nothing for a year.
“We had to focus and make sure we did it right. Sharptone had faith in us which was awesome, they came around when a lot of other labels were like ‘Nope, you guys are done. No thanks.’ Sharptone had faith in us and put the money forward for us to go in and have as much studio time as we needed, probably more than we needed even. So, yeah I really think we pulled through.”
THE SONGS ARE BIGGER AND MORE ANGRY, TOO...
“It’s just how we were feeling at the time. I think all of our records are pretty good at doing that, portraying exactly how we’re feeling. Our last couple of records were definitely more melodic, and I think uplifting because that's just kind of how we were feeling.
“This time with our backs against the wall and so much on the line, it definitely made us angry and frustrated that we’ve put twelve years into this band and [were] seeing it starting to crumble.
“It was very frustrating. And that’s where we wrote from, we wrote like it’s do or die. There was a lot of frustration and it was a very lengthy writing process, so I think that all comes through.”
THE LYRICS TO THE TITLE TRACK HINT AT INNER-BAND CONFLICT. WHAT HAPPENED THERE?
“When we started writing this record Josh, Andy and I took about a week to just to journal different situations that had happened to us in the last few years that were really upsetting, really dramatic, things that had stuck with us for years. We wrote down exactly where we were, what we were feeling and what the situation was.
“We used all those stories to start writing lyrics. That song in particular, ‘Cold Like War’, was written about a situation in London. The band were divided on whether we should go to Russia or not because Russia at the time had just invaded Ukraine and there were some political things going on.
“Half the band wanted to go and half the band didn’t, we were very divided. We came to find out it was the wrong decision down the line and it’s something that still tore at my band for years after.
“That’s where the song started, but you have to look at things the right way. Yeah it was a big mistake, but a bigger mistake would be holding onto it and not learning from it which is basically the basis of this song and the basis of a lot of songs on this record.
“We’ve beat ourselves up about so many decisions that we’ve made over the last few years but in reality we should have just learned from them and moved on and tried to be better in the future.”
ERIC CHOI LEFT LAST YEAR. HOW DID DAVE PUCKETT (EX-FOR TODAY) END UP REPLACING HIM ON DRUMS?
“It all happened a little quicker than we expected it to, and that was fine. When Eric left we all had the impression that, ‘We’re never going to replace him. We’re just going to keep hiring drummers, that's not going to change.’
“We cycled through about three drummers since Eric. For Today broke up and we were like ‘David is a great drummer. We should see what David’s doing!’ Some of us were worried, For Today being a very Christian band and us not being a Christian band. We were wondering how that would work. We decided to bring him out for some rehearsals, to work on the record and to kind of just test out his personality. To see how he gelled with us, see if he understood us, see if he was okay with a little drinking and partying. Turns out he is a very open minded kind of guy.
“In the end we all got along really well. It came down to it and Sharptone’s like ‘So David played on the record, David’s been hanging with you guys, he’s been rehearsing with you guys. Is he going to be in the videos and promos and everything?’ and we were like ‘Well, yeah!’ So I guess he’s in the band now which is awesome because he’s such a solid person and such a solid drummer. It just worked and we didn’t think we were going to find that with somebody ever.”
DO YOU THINK YOUR FANS WILL EMBRACE ‘COLD LIKE WAR’?
“Every record we’ve done I’ve been so nervous about the reaction. Sometimes our fans embrace our records with open arms and sometimes they hate them. That’s what always makes me so nervous about releasing something, I don’t know which way it is going to go.
“We are the type of band to take chances. We’ve never been the band that makes the same record repeatedly. I think because of that we’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs. Our fans at times aren’t really sure what to expect of us. But I can honestly say that on this record I’ve never felt more confident. I’m not nervous on this one! I’m not saying that to be cocky or say that we’re the best band ever, I just have a feeling.
“I know what our fans are looking for and I think we’ve fully delivered it on this record. I think we stay true to our metalcore roots, to our deep lyrics and we did programming above and beyond anything we’ve done. I think that’s a lot of things that our fans were missing and wanted us to do on this record.”
TRACKS LIKE ‘ENCODER’ HAVE A STRONG EDM INFLUENCE. WHAT DROVE YOU TO MOVE IN THAT DIRECTION?
“Kyle [Pavone, vocals], that’s his favourite type of music, that’s his side project. He has a solo project where he just does these dance parties and DJs. I’m probably saying all the wrong terms for it!
“He’s very into that and that’s his life outside of the band. We were all just thinking, ‘Why don’t we find a way to bring these two things together?’ I always hate when bands drop trap and stuff in their setlist. I’m not a fan of that but I was like, ‘If we can do it tastefully and in a way that isn’t cheesy, let’s give it a shot.’
“We let Kyle take the reigns on the programming for all the songs and it just started working. That song was the last song to get written for the record. We were in the studio one day and the song was originally a dance track and he was like ‘I was going to use this for my solo project but I have a sick idea to make it the heaviest song ever.’
“We all looked at him like he was insane because we were like ‘That isn’t going to work’. We listened to it a couple more times and we were like ‘Wait a minute, we think we get what you’re saying’. We ran with it, we made some sweet music over it and then we were like ‘Let’s put some vocals over it’.
“Once the vocals were on it we were like ‘This song is a jam, we should definitely put it on the record.’ We were all pretty amped on it and we wanted to write something really heavy so we dropped the guitars all the way down to F and just made it as heavy as possible.”
IS THIS THE ALBUM THAT’LL PUT YOU GUYS BACK ON COURSE?
“We are all feeling really confident about it. When I’m in the studio and I hear a song and I get chills from it, that usually hits with our fans too. I feel that every song that we’ve done that has given me chills winds up being successful with our fans. I’ve felt that more on this record then I ever have.”
ANY UK TOUR PLANS?
“It is looking like real soon. I think 2018 is going to be an extremely a busy year for us. We’re trying to hit everywhere in the world and squeeze it all in and we’re usually pretty good at doing it so next year won’t be any different.”
‘Cold Like War’ is out October 20 via Sharptone Records.