In celebration of A Wilhelm Scream’s upcoming visit to Australia, we caught up with guitarist Trevor Reilly to walk us through each of their studio albums to gain valuable insight into what went into each one.
Massachusetts melodic hardcore outfit A Wilhelm Scream have a long and storied history. Ever since they first formed 20 years ago, they’ve established themselves as leaders of the genre, with their popularity growing with each and every release.
No strangers to Australian shores, the group recently announced that they’d be making their first visit to the country since 2016 in support of their newest record, 2022’s Lose Your Delusion.
An album that is arguably their most personal and most real, it arrived nine years after 2013’s Partycrasher and has since been considered one of their best. Of course, that’s a sentiment that even the band would agree with, especially since you’d be hard-pressed to find any artist who doesn’t like their newest material the best.
But in celebration of A Wilhelm Scream’s upcoming visit to Australia, we caught up with guitarist Trevor Reilly to walk us through each of their studio albums to gain valuable insight into what went into each one.
Lose Your Delusion (2022)
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“Gratitude. It’s our most poppy record, but it’s our most real. Definitely our most personal, and finding confidence again.”
This new album, we were ready before the pandemic. ‘Ready’ meaning, like, the songs I felt were good. The pandemic gave us more time to kind of look at the songs and kind of choose the ones we wanted to do. But also, I was building a new studio for the past six years. My wife and I bought a building downtown, and it was basically a lot of construction, a lot of work on the place, and a lot of working towards a goal.
So going in to do the record, it was probably the most stressful for us since the first album, probably, ‘cause it's like the maiden voyage of the studio. And I'm a perfectionist. I'm kind of gnarly that way. So we did vocals for a long time. We did as vocals as long as I felt it needed to be done for.
“Investments and betting on yourself.”
We put out Career Suicide, it wasn't popping off in the States, then we went to Europe and fucking Europeans loved it. We were playing like all these festivals and shit. They're totally digging what we're doing and stuff like that. And we start seeing a lot of new bands come out that sound like they listened to the Career Suicide album a lot.
So that was really cool, and our guitarist Chris [Levesque] had left the band shortly after Career Suicide came out. So we need a new guitar player. I'm like, “Brian, who's the nastiest guitar player you've ever seen?” He's like, “Mike Supina.”
So Mike came out and Mike did the bulk of the touring with us on Career Suicide, where we went everywhere. We saw so many new places on that album. Then we started writing and then we did an EP with Mike. That was around the time where my dad was like, “Hey, listen, you get this studio here. I'm doing less and less in it these days.” He’s getting ready to retire and everything, and the studio's just gonna be something that he just does for fun. So when he retires, he was like, “Instead of spending all your money on another studio, why don't you invest in yourselves and do your own albums here?”
So me and Mike just went down the rabbit hole of recording technology and just killed ourselves for years trying to learn this shit. And we learned it on the job, so to speak, with our sound guy James. We did the EP, and we bought some gear. Then it was time to do Partycrasher, bought some more gear, and when it was finally time for that, Mike started writing a lot more songs. He wrote a few songs on the record, wrote lyrics to two songs on the album, and co-wrote some stuff. So that was different for all of us.
That was the first like record that we kind of self-produced. I've always had my hand in everything. I don't wanna say I produced our earlier records or whatever, but I was very involved with the decision-making process of it. So it was a pretty seamless process going into the studio, just knowing ourselves and knowing what we can do.
We knew that the songs were really good and I just loved that. I loved the lineup that we had. I wish we had done more with Mike in that time. I wish we weren't so critical of ourselves and tried to be more creative during that time. But that's what I take away the most is that, in the time period, I felt like we were so strong as a band.
Career Suicide (2007)
“Flexin’. The new chapter. Most of our records are growers, but that one’s a shower.”
I think that Brian Robinson joining the band on bass for that album was a big influence on the sound of the band. The first time I ever heard him, I was like, “Oh my God, this guy is doing some insane shit on the bass.”
And we come from a time, in the early 2000s, where virtuosity was a pretty cool thing to have in a band. It's something that we always dug, ourselves. Virtuosity has come back now that TikTok and everything is a big thing. A lot of the virtuosos on guitar and on bass, they're everywhere. But like back in the day, these people don't come out of nowhere, you know? And we're already friends with him and had toured with his band, The Fullblast, and stuff.
So getting him in the fold was kind of like, “Oh shit, dude. Remember that fucking band we play with? That band just broke up. He wants to fly out and audition and shit.”
I think that we really wanted to up the ante. We always try to make the next thing different. We don't want to do the same album again and again, ‘cause it's like, why bother? So we try to make it different. And with this, man when you have such a nasty bass player, it’s like having Lil’ Joe Raposo from Rich Kids On LSD in the band, or some shit. Insane Eddie Van Halen shit, but like, on bass.
So we treated it like a nine to five job. We went to the practice space and we just fucking worked on songs. We wanted to make the greatest melodic, hardcore record ever. And after doing it, we were like, “Yeah, cool.”
Now, we went back to The Blasting Room to do it. During the making of Ruiner, Bill [Stevenson] would come up to us and say we’re doing something fucking really special. Well, this was the opposite. This time, Bill would come up to me during the recording and say, “Hey, Trev, uh, I think we took a step back here.” And I was like, “What really? Are you crazy?” Like this is the coolest shit we've ever done. I think we're just fucking killing it. I feel like, “Oh, this is gonna be a hit record.”
I think the expectations that we had were just so huge for that, because we got so much recognition from the Ruiner record, you know, we like people calling us, being like, “Hey, are you still signed? Want to sign with us?”
Career Suicide came out and it was literally career suicide. Our agent dropped us. The label was always behind us. Even though I said, “Hey, our agent just dropped us over this album. You sure you wanna put it out?” But we had the hotshot booking agent and stuff like that, and she was like, “Guys, this is not what I expected from you guys after Ruiner.”
I think that the expectation was we would kind of go on more on the melodic hardcore tip. More emo heavy than melodic punk. More melodic hardcore or something like that. I think that was the expectation, but for us, we were just like, “This is the best shit we can write. This is the best thing that we can do.”
The experience was still great. Sonically, that album was a huge step up, and I think that Bill and Jason [Livermore] thought it was a huge step down. They're not saying not just us, they're also talking about the production value of them as well.
People come up to me all the time talking about the sound of the album as well and saying, “Hey, that influenced me to make my shit shiny and fucking bright and still fucking heavy and pounding.” So like if you put Ruiner and Career Suicide on back to back, those albums sound so fucking different. Ruiner might as well have been like done between Mudhoney and Pavement or something like that. Whereas Suicide is more hi-fi.
It still sounds cool, and keep in mind, I wouldn't change a fucking thing about any of these albums. I love them all for the same reasons, but I think each album captured a snapshot in time. I think we've always been good with that.
“Finding strength and finding confidence. Knowing we had this potential, but finding that confidence to not care that others see the potential.”
At the time of Ruiner, our founding member and my best friend, Jon Teves, our bassist, left the band. He gave us tons of notice, so it wasn't like he just left us in the lurch or anything, but it was more of a sad time. It was melancholy, and on a personal level, I was like, “Do I even want to do this? This is my best friend. This is the dream that we started when we were 14. We bought instruments on the same day…”
So knowing that he wasn't going to be in the band after doing this album affected the songs. First off, I was writing a lot of the stuff in a very isolated manner, writing them alone. Whereas most of the time I would be bouncing all my stuff off of him all the time. So we would essentially be writing together. He made all our songs better just by jamming with him; he was just like that freak talent.
So knowing that he wasn't going to be there kind of affected a lot of that cause, and then a lot of the songs that I write, I kind of turn it back inward. Sort of like the introspective, ‘kick yourself in the dick’ kind of lyric writing that I do. That was part of it, and then another part of it was just being in your 20s and just being like a complete maniac. We're touring and like, relationships with women and stuff like that, they were non-existent. They weren't really relationships, they weren't really friendships, they were like, almost adversarial.
So I think putting all that together, just being in my super depressed 20s or whatever… Well, I think depression, that's more the 30s, that's an album coming up.
While we were making it, you could really tell that, Bill and Jason and everybody really felt that we were doing something really special with the album. Bill still talks about the demos for Ruiner and how good he thought they were. We felt we were doing some special shit with that one.
Mute Print (2004)
I like all our records. It's hard to choose a favourite. I could say Mute Print because it's the first one, the earliest one. But that record was wild because that one was like a bootcamp for everyone. I think that affected everyone's life – everyone involved in it – to a certain degree. Because we were going into The Blasting Room for the first time and we had like 10 days to do it; mixing and everything, and we had no idea what we were doing. We didn't know anything about a click track or any shit like that.
They were like, “Well yeah, you're gonna play to a metronome.” And we're like, “Play to a metro-what?” So like the whole process, I'm like, “Fuck... Which songs do I have to cut out of this record? Because this record's about to become an EP real quick.”.
But everyone pulled through, Bill and Jason, poor guys, they were doing fucking 20 hour days. Each of them, they were coming in in shifts to try to fucking finish their record and get it done with us. But I always think fondly of that memory because when we were through it, it's like, “Holy fuck…”
And even Bill and Jason, I think it changed them to a certain degree, too. Because they were like, “Okay, we're gonna need more people on hand to work on these records” We were kind of more ambitious than our ability level, I guess. And we didn't know it until we were, until we were there.
But Mute Print, I think some people, some people like that album the best out of all of our records for various reasons.
A Wilhelm Scream will begin their 2023 Australian tour in March.
A WILHELM SCREAM
2023 AUSTRALIAN TOUR WITH KNIFE HANDS
Thursday 2 March - Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (SOLD OUT)
Friday 3 March - Altar, Hobart
Saturday 4 March - Crown & Anchor, Adelaide
Sunday 5 March - The Tote, Melbourne
Wednesday 8 March - Stag & Hunter Hotel, Newcastle
Thursday 9 March - Vinnies, Gold Coast
Friday 10 March - The Brightside, Brisbane
Saturday 11 March - Crowbar, Sydney
Sunday 12 March - La la la’s, Wollongong