We Came As Romans came to Austin as screamo kings on Sunday night. The band played to a sold-out, rowdy-as-hell Emo’s crowd with like-minded metalcore bands Asking Alexandria, From First to Last, Our Last Night and A Bullet for Pretty Boy as part of the Welcome to the Circus Tour.
We spoke with the Equal Vision band’s guitarist and primary songwriter, Joshua Moore, about growing up in a venue-less Detroit suburb, being inaccurately labeled a Christian band and the eternal question of what’s sexier: trombone or guitar.
What was growing up in Troy, Michigan, like? How was the scene?
Moore: There really is no scene in Troy. It’s just a suburb of Detroit with no downtown and nothing but schools. But the whole metro-Detroit area has a great scene. I love playing hometown shows, but we never play in our technical home city. It’s kind of tough for bands that aren’t too heavy to play because it’s a very heavy-influenced and heavy-driven scene in terms of the music. But for us it’s always been awesome.
Chiodos is from that area right?
Moore: They’re from Flint, which is about an hour north of Detroit, but they used to play around our suburbs all the time. One of the venues that was almost like a home venue is in Pontiac, which is right by all of us. Flint is pretty ghetto. It’s pretty unsafe, actually.
There’s been a lot of talk about “Is this a Christian band or is it not?” and all that, but there’s definitely a message. Maybe you’re not preaching, but there is a message.
Moore: Definitely not a Christian band. Definitely not. But I would say that definitely, for sure, we’re preaching. We’re just not preaching Christianity. We’re not preaching a religion; we’re just preaching a message. Hopefully, if anyone wants to check out our lyrics, you can kind of read about it and read through it. It’s pretty much just about kind of being loving in your life and being compassionate and at the same time being completely passionate about what you’re doing, whether it’s music like us or something else. It’s a lot about forming relationships and knowing that you don’t have to go through life being alone.
There are a lot of strings on the album and a lot of times the songs have an almost orchestral feel. Where does that come from?
Moore: I was in band and I played trombone all until I graduated high school, and it was always something that was really appealing to me, the sound of strings. And then just the fact that it could be combined with our genre of music was something that even more I wanted to do. And not just me, but all the other dudes too, because they were all in on it too.
Do you still keep up trombone?
Moore: Oh, no. Unfortunately being on the road all the time and having my lip pierced four times makes it really hard to play trombone.
So what’s cooler? Trombone or guitar?
Moore: I like guitar more just because of the possibilities on guitar rather than the possibilities on trombone. There’s a set range on trombone and guitar you can do a whole lot of different things. And you can’t really plug a trombone into any sort of pedal or any sort of effects.
Plus, I feel like you get more looks from the ladies playing guitar.
Moore: Oh, you’d be surprised. [laughs] No definitely, but professional trombone players in orchestras make a lot of money, but it takes so much work to be that awesome at it. It definitely takes way more work to be awesome at trombone than it takes to be good at guitar.
How has Equal Vision been? That label has had some great bands on its roster.
Moore: Equal Vision to us was always an awesome label. It was kind of like the band’s dream. That was the first label the band wanted to sign to like five years ago. The day of our first official band practice was the same day that Chiodos released All’s Well That Ends Well. And them being from Michigan, we were all like “Oh we gotta pick it up. Oh they’re on Equal Vision; that’s gotta be the best label in the world because a Michigan band is on there.” We all ended up through the years just getting in to different bands. Our first bass player’s favorite band was the Fall of Troy, which was another EVR band. Our old vocalist Mark listened to a lot of Fear Before and Portugal. The Man, as well so I guess you could say it was always in the band’s mind, no matter who the band members were.
The music industry is pretty fickle, for instance, From First to Last were headlining these sold-out shows and now they’re opening on this tour, but then you have bands like Thursday and Brand New that seem to have a pretty stable following. How does We Came As Romans plan to stay relevant, or is that something you’ve put much thought into?
Moore: I have definitely thought about it. I think the best way to stay relevant is just to be smart about things business-wise as well as music-wise. A lot of kids don’t see, and will never see how much of being in a band is a business. You have to practice good business to keep the band on its feet and when you don’t, the musical aspect of the band suffers as well. So always making good business decisions but at the same time not making decisions just to make money or just to keep people happy. There’s a lot of lines you need to know when to cross and when not to cross, so I’m just hoping to stay smart about everything and our managers are smart, very intelligent people, so I know that we’ll always have good guidance.
If you could put together your ideal concert, any bands, alive, dead, broken-up, still together, who would it be? Four bands and you guys are headlining.
Moore: If we’re headlining, there’s going to be a big walkout. I would say Brand New, Underoath, August Burns Red and As Cities Burn. The things that I would do to see that show.
View a photo gallery of We Came As Roman’s show (get these photos on Facebook).