I spoke to Ryan Lake and Sam Hart back at their launch show for their debut album Whispers and Fragments, which was back in May. We talked about the cliche scene, to leaking of albums and finding success independently.
First off, let’s start with the hum drum standards interview questions; what’s your name(s), what you do in WATE and your pre-show ritual?
Ryan: I’m Ryan; I sing and do the screaming. As for pre show rituals, I get fucking nervous and get the butterflies happening and get the energy for the show.
Sam: I’m Sam, I play bass and pre show I drink lots and try not to get too drunk, but everyone keeps me until control.
Whispers and Fragments is leaps and bounds ahead of Seizures, what was the main focus when it came down to writing with Kris?
Sam: We just wanted to push ourselves as much as we could musically…
Ryan: I think this album was more about getting everyone’s ideas and everyone’s influences and collaborating together rather than doing it singularly…
Sam: This one was very much a team effort rather than a.. uhm.. I think before it came down to more or less one or two people writing it all, where this one was all of us.
Was the writing and recording process any different to Seizures? Being back on home turf, did it feel rushed at all?
Sam: Uhm, I don’t think so.
Ryan: The writing process was starting halfway through last year..
Sam: We actually got a rehearsal space and rented that out, and started out, we were writing quite a bit.
Ryan: But then again we were still writing when we still recording, so it was more like a mad dash to the finish line, but the whole process took quite a while.
Sam: I think the last CD felt more rushed because we were so constricted with time, being overseas and knowing that we had to get everything done by a certain date or we would have been fucked.
The band decided to record with Seizures engineer Kris Crummett, what was the decision in bringing him over? Was it more of having a sense of comfort with him?
Sam: Um, actually Kris was out here with a band called Secrets in Scale and he sort of said to us “I’m going to be out that way, if you guys want to do it, we’ll do it over here it might end up cheaper for you. Because it was already sought out.”
Ryan: And I guess knowing that he knows us (the band) and I guess it is comforting that he knows us quite well and will…
Sam: I mean recording close to home is always more comforting, we were very much out of our comfort zone in Portland, we were living in a motel and shit. But with Whispers we recorded in a beach house, so yeah it was much more comforting.
Whispers was leaked unorthodoxly through iTunes of all places, what the hell happened?
[Sam and Ryan both laugh]
Sam: Basically our distrobution people, Firestarter send it through to iTunes to get it uploading so they could start advertising for pre-release but when they uploaded it to iTunes they actually made it live.
Ryan: Fat fingers [laughs]
Sam: We actually heard about it through one of our fans who downloaded it and emailed us and said “This is awesome!” And we kind of went “fuck, what?” So by the time we got a hold of Firestarter who got a hold of iTunes they already had taken it down and people already had it. And once person has it, that’s it.
Ryan: And after that it up on all those illegal download sites and whatever. And that’s cool, as long as people liked it.
With it being leaked so early, what has been the overall response from fans?
Ryan: It was mixed, but more positive than negative; people were very much like “we still like it, but what happened to the screaming?”
Sam: I think a lot of people were very confused, our older fans mostly. I mean at the same time, there was plenty of nice stuff said. And I found a lot of people as well going back on our comments on our Last.fm and stuff, a lot of people that bagged us out at first turned around, you know what, I listened to the CD even more now and it’s really grown on me.
I’ve been wanting to ask a question like this for a bit, You guys have a very distinctive fan base here in Perth, which has been cultivated over the last few years by playing a lot of underage shows and being extremely outgoing in that environment. Do you think the vast change in direction will affect your fan base here? And do you expect to find a different crowd as you head interstate?
Ryan: Possibly like, I hope the old fans still stick around; hopefully we still play from the old CD.
Sam: The thing is I think the new CD is more mature by no means is it too complex, and I don’t think we’re not going to turn into this wanky art band.
Ryan: But I think this album is a lot more accessible to a lot of different people of different styles of music than rather be appealing to just one market.
Sam: And I think this CD is going to open us up in the 18 market, but I think definitely this CD is going to bridge to gap.
Since Danan split up, I get the feeling that WATE have because the pseudo representative of the ‘scene’ here in WA, how do you feel about that?
Sam: I suppose it’s always going to happen, there’s always going to be one at the front of the pack, and Danan was leaps in front of any other bands here.
Ryan: And it was absolutely devastating when they broke up, and I guess if we can take their place, not that we’re trying to take their place at all, but if people are looking to us like that..
Sam: If people are going to put us on that pedestal so to speak, they’re going to do it. It’s not something we’re trying to obtain at all. I suppose there’s always going to be a band that’s ahead of the pack in that aspect.
Ryan, what was the main influence in changing your vocal style on this album? Was it more of a collaborative writing aspect?
Ryan: I think when we were writing it and stuff a lot of the songs felt like if there was screaming on it then it wouldn’t have blended well with the music, or would have been too much. But like, I’ve sung in a few bands before, so it wasn’t like a complete change for me at all.
Do you feel that screaming in songs has been overdone now? The main reason I’m asking this is because the prominence of bands with screaming in their music has become so drawn out and tiresome, it feels like that music is being drenched with mediocrity and uninventive writing.
Ryan: I don’t know, well, screaming, I don’t know if it’s had its time, but it’s had it’s time for us.
So it was more of a naturally progression for you guys?
Ryan: Yeah exactly, it wasn’t more of a conscious decision, to go more like “oh scream the scene is old news, so let’s do something else”; it was more natural than anything else.
Sam: I mean, I still listen to “screamo” and I have to say it is really a clichéd scene…
I mean if we’re talking about the new school stuff…
Sam: To be honest I don’t think I’ve heard a decent band like that in a long long time, and I always go back to [Underoath] They’re Only Chasing Safety, I reckon is the best example and if that got released now it’d still do well, I think that that genre of music that people don’t do anything different with it, that they’re happy to making hollow music, as long as it’s got singing and screaming.
Ryan: Having said all that if the music and the direction of the music could incorporate screaming then we would have used it.
This is more so directed at Ryan than the band – Will Koda ever surface again or has its time come and gone?
Ryan: Well actually there was talk in the Koda camp that one last show would be in the works, which would be fine, which wouldn’t go any further than one last show. But it was good fun, but it’s come and gone.
Generally, how does Perth differ with the home town fan base to the eastern states?
Sam: We don’t really have a fan base over there, we’ve only done a couple of jaunts over east, I mean fans over there, the few that we have are really cool. Really dedicated, and then there’s a girl coming over from Adelaide to the launch show tonight. There’s diehard fans out there, we’ve got a pretty crazy fan base.
WATE haven’t signed to a label yet, have you found more freedom in doing things yourselves, or do you guys want to eventually have support in that aspect?
Ryan: If we all want to do this as a career…
Sam: The thing is in terms of freedom and that it’s hard for us to judge because we’ve never had a label so we never know what restrictions would be imposed on us. You hear all these horror stories of all these bands getting fucked around by labels you kind of go “is it worth it”, we’ve been doing pretty well doing independently. So if a label comes along and does something cool for us and get us out there a bit more. I think we’d let James talk to the label since he’s the one with the business mind in the band.
Bailey and Sophie’s voices are more prominent on Whispers, what was the decision to utilise these resources rather than completely forgoing them?
Ryan: A bit similar?
Ryan: They’re both fucking amazing vocalists.
Sam: Well that and that it comes back to when Seizures was written, mainly by James. We didn’t have a solid line up, and Sophie was in the band halfway through the writing and Bailey came in very close to that.
Ryan: And I came in halfway through the time they were in America…
Sam: And this time around we had a lot more time to write as a band so Bailey and Sophie had a lot more time to contribute.
Before we finish – let’s have some quick questions;
Ryan: I love playing Amplifier…
Sam: Same here.
Sam: Escape the Fate, that my last show on vocals, it was really, really fun.
Ryan: Short Stack! As lame as they are, it’s the sort of show that you never expect to go off.
As musicians, what are your influences?
Ryan: Michael Jackson, Sting and The Police, a lot of stuff my Dad listens to, like Jeff Buckley. And then stuff I listen to, like Circa Survive and Emarosa.
Sam: I’m the same; I like to Death Cab one day and then Norma Jean the next.
Favourite Fan Moment?
Ryan: The first time I got asked for a signature.
Sam: The same, at Escape the Fate and some kids came up and asked for me to sign something. It’s kind of like a "oh shit!" moment.
Most Anticipated 2010 Australian and International Release?
Ryan: Emarosa and City Escape.
Sam: Same here.
Ryan: I’m listening to an English indie folk band called Passenger.
Sam: Old Saosin, as lame as it sounds.
If you could fight anybody in the band, who and why?
Sam: James because he’s a big sissy.
Ryan: Sophie. But I’m not allowed to hit girls.
Weirdest fan present.
Ryan: One of them gave us all Easter gifts… I got some hot wheels.
Sam: I got a Barbie mug. But this one time this girl gave me her dress to wear.
Worst show you’ve played?
Sam: That one tour we played when we were in Werribee, with the hardcore band. And they gave us some good frozen in a gladwrap bag.
Finally, what’s the WATE plate after the launch shows? You guys have Senses Fail * coming up, and nothing announced after that.
Ryan: We have a tour with a band from over east… Can I say that?
[ed note: At the time of interviewing, the Scary Kids Scaring Kids final tour wasn’t announced, the band have dropped off the Senses Fail tour to play with Scary Kids Scaring Kids.]
Ryan: Go and get our album!
Sam: Thanks to everyone who got it off iTunes before it was supposed to go up.