"Hard work pays off in this industry more often than talent does"
We Came As Romans have rightfully earned a top place amongst the hardest working contemporary heavy bands. It's been less than a decade since the release of their debut album "To Plant A Tree", and in the meantime the band has managed to release five LPs and tour all around the globe. After storming through hard times, both for their reputation and the members' relationships, the Michigan six-piece returns to form with "Cold Like War", an album that contains every element that helped establish the band's name in the first place.
Many people seem to view "Cold Like War" as a comeback, although you never really left. Did you feel that way while creating it?
Yes actually! We unplugged and disconnected ourselves from everything around us so the year we were writing and recording felt like a break. It was completely necessary, though, so we could refocus and decide what direction we wanted to take the band. Not to mention, fall back in love with what we do and learn to appreciate it to the fullest extent. We’re out touring America and Canada right now, and it's the happiest I’ve seen my band in a long time.
Is it safe to say that your approach on the whole process was different from the one you tried on the self-titled album?
Our approach to the writing and recording of this record was very different from any approach we’ve ever taken. Besides the extended amount of time we had to write and record it, the entire process was different. For the first time in the existence of WCAR, every band member all sat in a room together and wrote. It really allowed for each person's influence and creativity to shine through more than ever before. Doing this also helped each of us have a more personal connection to the record.
We also wrote and recorded with two different producers that were in different studios on different sides of the country. It was a lot of traveling, but in the end, it was amazing to work with two people who are incredibly talented and close to us.
From my point of view, the band's sound is the angriest it's been for a while. Is it a reflection of the way you've felt these last couple of years?
During the course of our Self-Titled record, none of us were very happy. We had so many plans that never came together, so many people lost faith in us and wrote us off, and the record itself never came together the way we wished it would have. When so many things go wrong and hardly anything goes right, its hard to keep your head up and look at things positively. In the end, all the negative energy helped us create "Cold Like War", so it was all a vital part in the creative process.
"We spent the first two weeks we were in the studio journaling and writing down stories"
The title track's lyrics seem to be really personal. Is it based on a specific event?
All the lyrics for this record were written from a specific event that happened to us over the last few years. We spent the first two weeks we were in the studio journaling and writing down stories that happened to us recently that helped shape our current mentality, then wrote lyrics from those stories. This particular song was about a situation we went through while at a café in London debating whether we should travel to Russia for the shows we had booked.
Russia had just invaded Ukraine and the United States and Russia were at odds with each other. There was a possibility of anti-american protests in Russia and the US Embassy was advising against Americans traveling there. Half the band still wanted to go, the other half was worried about our safety and didn’t. It was a very difficult decision to make and one we never agreed with. It left a scar on our band emotionally and financially for years to come, not to mention, strained our relationships.
In the end, we learned a lot from it and try to think of this as a lesson learned rather than a mistake. This whole record deals with the idea of forgiving yourself and learning from the things you’ve done wrong rather than letting them devour your spirit.
There's a pretty positive vibe on "Lost In The Moment". What was the inspiration behind it?
This was the first song we wrote for this record, actually. At the time, given the amount of frustration and sadness we were feeling, we just wanted to have fun with a song. We envisioned lots of colors when hearing the music and envisioned a song lyrically that can take you away and make you forget about all your burdens.
"It's like no one back home even remembers who you are"
One of my favourite tracks on the album is "Foreign Fire". Does it ever feel difficult, writing songs as dark as that?
That song hits home the hardest for me. Over the years we’ve all lost friends and family members, dealt with deaths of people close to us, missed funerals, weddings, birthdays, and too many things to count. You find yourself away from home so much doing what we do, it's like no one back home even remembers who you are. You become a story to them rather than a real person. It's truly sad, but it's part of the sacrifice we’re willing to make to do what we love.
The electronic elements that have always been a part of your music, take the lead on "Encoder" and "Promise Me". Is it hard to maintain a balance between them and the heavier parts?
With these songs we didn’t try to balance anything like we did with the rest of the songs on the album. We wanted both of these to be very extreme and very different from anything we normally do in our band. Kyle loves electronic music so we let him take the reins on the opening ideas for these songs, and then the rest of the guys and myself ran with them and made them into what they are now.
Did Eric Choi's departure affect the creative process? What was it like working with David Puckett?
Eric would always get involved with his drum parts, but when it came to the overall song writing, he wasn’t very involved. His departure didn’t have much of an affect because David is also a very creative drummer and his drums helped bring these songs to life.
"It seemed like so many other labels wrote us off"
"Cold Like War" is the first LP you release through a new record label. How did that come up?
We have a few friends at the label who we have known for several years and we trust them a lot! We loved that we both had so much to prove on this record. They’re a new label and we were one of their big signings so they were putting their necks on the line for us. They helped us regain our confidence and pushed us along the way to make the best music possible.
It seemed like so many other labels wrote us off and said we were “done”. Sharptone was the first to disagree and they put so much faith in us and what we are capable of. It's awesome to have a team that believes in what we do as strongly as they do.
You're one of the bands that experienced the internet and social media ever since the early days. What is your take on them? Does this ease of communication work for the better, after all?
Social media in our early days is a huge reason our band was able to get itself off the ground. We would promote ourselves everywhere possible and even book shows in surrounding cities we had never played before, simply because we were able to promote ourselves so much with no cost whatsoever. It’s a very nice tool to have and more bands than ever can attribute their success to it. We still rely on it heavily to promote our shows, new records, clothing lines, and any other event we need people to support!
The next months you'll be touring in the States; are there any plans for Europe so far? Is there any chance to see We Came As Romans in Greece?
We’re all dying to go to Greece. It’s a country we have never been to but it looks so beautiful! It's actually me and my girlfriend’s dream vacation to visit somewhere there, so I hope I can go play a show and make her extra jealous!
"You don’t have to be the best band in the world to make it"
You've been performing live for a long time; is there something that you'd like to try on stage and haven't had the chance to do so yet?
I want to play with Pyrotechnics so bad! Having all kinds of fireworks and explosions would be so scary but amazing. The only problem is, Kyle because he doesn’t pay attention sometimes on stage and then wanders around. I think he would get burned really bad! Ha!
Being around for more than a decade, if you were to give one tip to a band that starts now, what would it be?
You don’t have to be the best band in the world to make it, but if you work harder than any other band, you will have much more of a chance than a band who is more talented. Hard work pays off in this industry more often than talent does so out work all your competition!
Thank you very much for your time! The last words are yours.
We can’t wait to come to Greece! Please pick up a copy of "Cold Like War" so we can sing together when we finally tour your country!