Alex Correia is the gritty, loud and dark voice of Boston post-hardcore outfit Therefore I Am. After a stellar debut, The Sound of Human Lives, was released last year on Equal Vision Records, their lives changed for the better. They gained legions of fans on Warped Tour, an article in Alt Press and a tour with hardcore heavyweights Alexisonfire and Trash Talk. The group is set to spread its angst around Australia in June.
The first time we met Correia, at last summer’s Warped Tour in San Antonio, he was a shy, seemingly worn-out and clean-cut dude whom we had to work to get answers out of. When we caught up with him again in Austin recently, he was a different guy. Longer hair and bushy red beard aside, he was all smiles and walked with a different air of confidence. We sat down with him at a rock bar on 6th Street to talk about his band’s new life and to reflect on life after Warped.
How is everything going for you this year after doing the entire Warped Tour last year?
Alex: It was weird because we really didn’t know what to expect after Warped. Warped Tour was amazing. We got to tour with Alexisonfire because we met them on Warped Tour. We became friends with them and some other awesome bands. It’s not like we are opportunists trying to schmooze or kiss people’s ass to get on other tours. It just so happened we clicked with those guys and a lot of other bands. It’s been nice to be able to travel and bump into friends. As far as the band progressing as a whole unit, it was tough because when we got off Warped we had a few tours set up for the fall that fell through. We ended up doing a tour at the end of November through December with this band Vanna from Boston.
How did you start your 2010?
Alex: When we got home from that tour, we took January off. We toured with The Wonder Years and Man Overboard in February. We had March off. We then headed up to Canada with this band Kingdoms. That tour started April 1 and led right into the Alexisisonfire tour with Trash Talk. We got home at the end of May and head to Australia for two weeks with City Escape.
While you’ve been touring, have you been writing new material?
Alex: We are getting ready to hopefully start writing. We wrote on the road a lot.
What is the inspiration for the new material you’re working on already? All the new fans post-Warped and beyond will want a new record now.
Alex: I don’t think that like, and I only us this term because I can’t think of another way to put it, but it’s not the popularity that motivates us or inspires us to make music. That’s not what inspired us to write our last record and it certainly won’t inspire us to write the next one. A lot of us have definitely sat down and made this realization that we can be in this band full time and continue to focus on just the band. Before, that wasn’t the case.
What was it like before exactly? What do you mean?
Alex: Even when I go home, for those five days before Australia, I have to get a job because I have to pay rent when we get home. It’s just that mind set. It isn’t, “I work a job and play in band on the side” anymore. Now I’m in a touring band and when I get home I find part-time jobs so I can feed myself or pay my rent or whatever. That’s definitely the shift that’s happened in the past year.
What else have you learned about yourselves this past year now that you’ve been on a bigger scale?
Alex: I learned how to grow a beard. I have recently shed out of my skin a little bit. I was a very reserved person for a little bit. I still think I kind of am, but I’m trying to break into this new lifestyle of saying yes to more things. Like you guys asking me to get food and sit down to talk. I’ve come out of my shell and I’m definitely interested to see how that is going to be reflected on our next record.
Is this going to be another angry record? We talked about this last year and your life is different now.
Alex: Good question. I don’t know. Some of the songs weren’t necessarily meant to be angry. I just think there is such an edge with our band now that it is projected that way. I do write a lot of music on the side. It is a lot of acoustic music that’s a lot more laid back. I think our next record is going to be a blend of really minimalistic songs and more like, I don’t want to say heavier but rather more aggressive songs reflective of the first track of the record. That’s just a random projection based on the few songs we’ve thrown back and forth.
What did you learn from your first Warped Tour, good, bad or indifferent?
Alex: I learned that doing it in a van sucks but at the same time is extremely fun. There were two other bands on the tour that also did the whole thing in a van, The Architects and The A.K.A.s. They both had somebody to drive. We didn’t do that; we took turns. We were sleeping two hours a night because all the drives were eight to ten hours. What I really learned was that I could do anything tour-related after doing Warped. I don’t think anything could really be much worse than that, but looking back it wasn’t really that bad.
Do you remember your worst day on Warped Tour last year?
Alex: There were some days I really wanted to shoot myself in the face. One day, I think we were in Phoenix, I drank like 15 of those Monster waters that were laced with Monster. It tasted like the company didn’t wash the old cans out and just filled them with water. I didn’t go to the bathroom the whole day. I’m a pale guy and I remember sitting there putting sunscreen on and looking like that movie Powder. I looked like Powder and I was covered in white. I’m sitting there with a t-shirt wrapped around my head, soaking wet. We met so many cool people and played so many cool shows. The second-to-last day, in San Diego, we had hundreds of people watching our band. We had never played in that city before, so it was the most unreal experience. It really was punk rock summer camp. Travis said a few days ago that it was the best summer of his life, and I feel that way too.
So if Warped Tour or Kevin Lyman called you to do it again, would you?
Alex: We’d love to do it again. We’d probably do it in a van again, to be honest. Buses are expensive and we don’t live luxurious lifestyles or anything. Living in a van for two months is no big deal for me. I’m used to living in confined spaces.
Another accomplishment of sorts that I noticed was you guys made it into Alt Press in sort of a feature-like fashion, instead of a small write up. What was that like to see yourself in what is the bible of the Warped Tour scene?
Alex: It was cool to tell my grandmother that she could go look at her grandson at Borders. The thing is, I didn’t know too much about Alternative Press. On the Alexisonfire tour, the first date was in Cleveland. We stopped and hung out with everybody at Alternative Press. They had a bunch of copies of the first issue ever and all the way up until now. I saw Smashing Pumpkins on the cover, and Rage Against The Machine. To know something I started in my friend’s basement four years ago, just for fun, ended up in a magazine like Alternative Press is pretty unreal. I feel honored and excited. Everyone at Alt Press was awesome and they were real supportive of us. I thought the article came out well and I didn’t look like a goof ball in my picture, which was cool.
Your first music video for “I Am Only An Island” was released.
Alex: Yeah, in fact it is on demand right now on Fused. Just the other day my friend and told me our video was on while he was shopping at Journey’s. He was all, “Why are you on television in a mall in Virginia?” What do you say to that, I don’t know?
Can you look back on the last year of your life with any regret?
Alex: If this band ended tomorrow, which I hope it doesn’t, I would be so content with everything that we’ve done. I hope we do more, but I have nothing to complain about. We have a pretty cool life.