Interview by Holly Aker.
Ever since signing with Equal Vision Records in 2009, We Came As Romans have been rocketing to the top of the post-hardcore world. When it came time to record their first full-length album, the Detroit, MI six-piece teamed up once again with producer Joey Sturgis, who has worked with such acts as The Devil Wears Prada, Emarosa and Attack Attack! The result was To Plant A Seed, an album that combines throaty growls with clean vocals, electronic beats with a sophisticated orchestra, and breakdowns that threaten to break limbs.
Unfortunately for We Came As Romans, almost as soon as they started the Motel 6 Rock Yourself To Sleep Tour earlier this month, the band’s guitarist, Josh Moore, became severely ill. Moore was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, a disease that can cause brain damage and possibly death. Since being hospitalized, Moore’s health has improved, but he will not be returning to the road anytime soon.
Before their set at The White Rabbit in San Antonio, we sat down with We Came As Romans’ bassist Andy Glass to get the latest on a new album, an update on Moore’s medical condition, and why the band feels the need to spread love through their songs.
How is the Rock Yourself to Sleep Tour going?
Andy Glass: Tour’s been going really well, actually. Motel 6 has been really genuine and nice.
They’re putting you up, right?
Glass: Yeah, they definitely keep us housed and cleaned, so it’s good. It’s definitely nice to have a place to rest. All the other bands love it too because usually on a lot of tours a lot of bands don’t get to stay with each other. They’re all like, “Oh, we’re going here. We’re going there,” and then you just meet up at the show, but this way is kind of nice for all the bands to get together to hang out. It’s cool. It’s more bondage, more like, everyone can hang out and bond and bro down. It’s kinda nice. It’s different but it’s cool.
Are you guys raising hell in the hotels?
Glass: We haven’t got any complaints. Everything’s been good. No one’s been crazy, but whether it’s a party or a light party it’s always just something that’s fun because a lot of bands will come out and party and stuff like that. It’s always cool, and it’s always fun, but for the most part it’s more like hanging out and learning what everyone’s doing and about each other. It’s actually really cool. It’s kind of different, but it’s nice. I definitely like it a lot.
You just released To Plant A Seed Deluxe CD/DVD. What all is this release going to have that the regular CD doesn’t have?
Glass: I’m pretty sure there’s a single we just put out, “To Move On Is To Grow” is on it, and then there’s a live DVD. It’s got four or five or I think maybe six songs on it that are just live. Then it’s got a thing about who we are on the road and hanging out and everyone’s kinda chilling and little interviews here and there. Basically you get more of a glimpse of if you were to go on tour with us what it would be like and what it would be like to hang out with us and what we do all day, which is just hang out basically. Then it’s got the full-length To Plant A Seed CD on it. It’s basically an extra package to give kids a little more because we worked so hard on this CD, and we want to keep going.
After this tour you guys are scheduled to go into the studio with Joey Sturgis who you’ve worked with before. What was behind the decision to work with him again? Not many bands like to work with the same producers at times on consecutive records.
Glass: Something with Joey really clicks for us in a sense of everything takes more form to what We Came As Romans is. Josh writes a lot of the music, and he’s Joey’s right-hand man when it comes to a lot of things, but what’s cool is that, say I’m recording bass, Joey and I will work on parts together and edit them a little here and there. Then when Eric’s doing drums, he’s like, “Well, maybe you should do this kind of fill or this kind of fill.” It’s just a good work environment, and we work really well with him, especially like the vocals and stuff, singing. Kyle and Dave really work good with Joey, and so it’s basically good work ethic and good environment. He’s just a great dude, and ideas come out of nowhere and inspirations comes out of nowhere in the studio. We couldn’t go with anyone else. I think we’re just completely content and happy with how Joey works. It’s a good combination that out of nowhere was just like, boom, and it happened, so it’s good.
Now that you guys have been together for so long, how have you improved as far as songwriting, composing?
Glass: We’ve kind of always worked the same way. Josh will write basically a song, and we’ll all sit down pick what we like or don’t like or if we completely like a song then we’ll do that. In a sense, Josh comes up with the skeletal structure of a song, and then we put pieces in with it. Then when we hit the studio, Joey will help us out as well, and he’ll work with us to put different things in. It’s basically like bringing a rough draft to all of us and then us all rewriting it ourselves. It’s kind of like a puzzle actually, just putting it all together to make one whole piece. That’s how we work. It works out well. It’s a little different than some other bands work. A lot of bands jam. The way we write is a little bit different, but I guess it’s been working out for us, so we’ll keep the same way.
I was looking at your tour dates for 2011, and it looks like you guys are going to be on the road nearly the whole year. How do you feel about that?
Glass: I love it. From day one, the only thing this band wanted to do was tour and see the world, and the fact that we’re able to do that is a miracle. It’s a blessing. The more and more we can tour, the more and more we can get out there and see the world and meet people is what we’ve always kinda wanted to do. We have the Scream It Like You Mean It Tour in April I think, and then A Day To Remember, The Game Changers Tour with Bring Me The Horizon and Pierce The Veil. Scream It Like You Mean It’s with Miss May I, The Word Alive, This Or The Apocalypse in Europe. After that we’re going back into the studio again because we have two months in the studio I’m pretty sure, a month and a half, and one of them’s to basically put down all the songs that we have, just recreate them and shape them up a little more. Then the next one is to do vocals and stuff like that. We have a lot of time to do that. After that we have the Warped Tour, which is going to be awesome. There’s so many good bands. We’re still planning for after Warped, like what we’re going to do and stuff because we’re already so booked into the future. Good thing coming up and we’re stoked on it. Just a lot of touring.
Which tour are you looking forward to the most?
Glass: Honestly, I’m looking forward to Warped Tour because all the bands that we’ve been touring with they just got off Warped or going to be on it and have been on it before, and all they talk about is like, “Dude, Warped Tour’s insane. It’s so nuts!” So we’re just stoked. We want to be apart of something like that. We were hoping to get on it last year, but we didn’t. I’m stoked we’re on it this year because we were supposed to do only half of last year, but we didn’t. So now we’re on the full thing this year, and I think it’s just going to be way fun to be part of the whole complete package. I’m stoked on it. It’s going to be really good. I am stoked for A Day To Remember because we just back from doing a tour with them in Australia, and they were all really cool dudes. It’s going to be fun. It’s like, new chapters, new tours. It’s going to be cool.
Since you’re on the road so much, will you miss home?
Glass: Yeah of course I’m going to miss it. I have my family back at home. I live with a band I’m working with and stuff. He’s a tattoo artist, and he does basically all of We Came As Romans tattoos. He’s one of my best friends. I miss hanging out with all those dudes, and my family a lot just because you only see them so much. It’s nice when you come to your home town or they fly out. I saw my mom at the Soma, a venue in San Diego, and I didn’t know she was there, so it’s pretty cool. You get to see a lot of family in a sense of touring, but of course I miss them. We’re always kind of homesick, but when we’re on the road it’s homesick, but when we’re home we miss the road. It’s kind of like the opposite at the same time.
Can you give me an update on Josh? Is he doing any better?
Glass: Josh is doing really well actually. He had bacterial meningitis, and it was caused from an ear infection. He was really out of it when we first stopped, and he was just burning up. He had a temperature of 106. It was really hard for us to all see him hooked up to breathing tubes. He was on a apparatus for a while, so it was really hard to see him. He was in Nebraska at the time, and we had to leave, and we were trying to get updates, and there were rumors going around that he was 100 percent deaf. We were all praying and freaking out trying to get a hold of him. His parents have been texting us and stuff like that, but he finally just went home. Right now he’s on an IV line, and he’s taking a bunch of medication. I think he’s going to be healed up in a couple of weeks. I think two weeks or something like that. I don’t know if he’s going to be back on the road with us, but he’s definitely going to heal up. I’m pretty sure he wanted some time to do some extra writing as well and some alone time, so almost in a sense, it’s kind of nice for him to relax and heal and just write. We’re all so thankful that he’s ok, and he’s doing well. He needs rest and recovery, and that’s the best thing, and some good medicine. We’ve been texting and calling him and sending him our love and laughs and stuff like that from the road because we feel like that’s the only real medicine we can give him. He’s just doing well, and we’ve been praying for him and so happy that he’s on the speedy road to recovery.
Who is filling in for him on this tour?
Glass: Actually, no one’s filling in for him. Because we have so many samples and so many backing tracks for our music because there’s orchestras and we want to give the kids the feel of the CD so there’s reverse cymbals and bass drops and stuff in it. We want to give kids the full effect but also kinda get a live feel. We called Joey Sturgis and hooked up the click tracks for Josh’s guitar and put them in with the samples. So when the song’s playing and the samples running and the click track’s going, Josh’s guitar is playing with it. So it was kinda nice because we didn’t have to fly anybody out or train anyone to learn all the songs. Playing 12 songs is a lot to do for someone, especially having two days notice and then learning them for a day, so we just thought that was the best thing we could do. It’s been working out really good. Everyone’s been covering in for Josh and stuff. Obviously it’s not the same. We all miss Josh. He brought an awesome live presence to our band, and we all miss him, but we’re making do with what we have.
We Came As Romans is part of a music scene that writes songs that are primarily angsty and dark, yet all of your songs have a positive message. Why do you feel it’s important for you to provide this kind of message?
Glass: A lot of us are actually really spiritual and religious in the band, and we all as people grew up that way, and we all really dwell on it. We always want to be the same kind of people, and we don’t want to force or push anything on anyone if they don’t believe in that, so we try to find a happy medium on something that everyone could be apart of. The only thing we could come up with was love. It’s kind of nice just being a positive message band about love and sharing that with the world because we all kinda came to the conclusion that love has absolutely no arguments. You can’t argue with someone who just wants to love you for who you are and what you are. That’s what’s nice about it. It’s something you can’t argue with. We’re stoked on that. Our music is heavy and dark, and it’s kind of funny because we’re playing breakdowns that are really heavy and the lyrics behind it are “beloved, let us love one another.” The kids are just going nuts, swinging in the pit, but it’s cool. We’re just trying something that’s positive and pushing for being the best you can be and be who you are. That’s what it’s all about.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
Glass: Personally, my favorite artist is Aesop Rock, he’s a rapper. He’s insane. As far as a band goes? Probably some of the bands we’ve toured with like, The Word Alive. They’re insane, insane musicians, and to write something them would be really cool. Kyle would definitely want to work with Skrillex or dubstep or house music stuff. He’s all about that. Dave would probably work with a rapper like Eminem or Lil Wayne or something. Josh’s top five favorite CD’s are August Burns Red Messengers, Underoath, They’re Only Chasing Safety, Son I Love You At Your Darkest by As Cities Burn, Taking Back Sunday, Tell All Your Friends, and Brand New…what is that Brand New album with the astronaut?
Glass: Deja Entendu, yeah that one.
That is a nice list.
Glass: We’ve talked about it before. Like, “If you were on an island by yourself, and you had five CD’s for the rest of your life, what would they be?” He named them off, and the list hasn’t changed. But yeah, Josh would do that. Eric, I have no idea. Eric would probably do something really technical. He’s all about that. Lou, he’s kind of a secret little hippie, so he would probably have Imogen Heap or something like that. I love nu metal and Deftones and stuff like that, so it would probably be something like that. I couldn’t really tell you who I’d like to collaborate with, but I think on the new CD, we have some people we definitely want to work with and want to be apart of our family with recording and stuff like that. We have some ideas brewing up. I don’t want to say anything.
Glass: No, can’t share. It’ll be cool though. I think a lot of people will be like, “Oh I know what that is,” or they’ll be like, “I wonder what that is.” In both ways it’ll be awesome because I’ve been listening to a lot of CD’s lately of a lot of bands that have come out with new releases, and I’ll be like, “Who is that?” and I’ll have to Tweet it or Cha Cha it. It’ll come back and I’ll be like, “That’s so sweet.” But yeah, there’s some stuff brewing. Everyone will know soon enough. It’s going to be really good. It’s not different, but it’s definitely going to be just as awesome of a concept as the last one because we’re all about concepts. This one is going to have a really cool concept that I feel like everyone is going to get every part of We Came As Romans. It’s going to be everything.