We Came As Romans have worked hard over the past five years to build up a name for themselves in the metalcore scene. This November will see the band making their third trip down under for the Australian leg of the Vans Warped Tour. Lead guitarist and key songwriter Joshua Moore took some time out to talk to Killyourstereo.com about their latest album, working with Aaron Gillespie, and their experiences on the Vans Warped Tour so far.
Good morning Josh, How are you doing?
I’m good, how are you doing?
So, there’s a lot of exciting things going down in the We Came As Romans camp, particularly the release of your new album, ‘Tracing Back Roots,’ next week. How are you guys feeling about that coming out?
I’m feeling really good. We just put up a full album stream, and for the last week we’ve been putting up song streams on various outlets and the response has been great. We’ve actually had the CD done since April, and been anxiously awaiting to let our fans finally hear it.
I was listening to the copy the label sent me last night, and I thought it was a massive step up for you guys. Probably my favourite release you guys have put out.
What were the major influences or some of the key sounds you were looking for when writing this album?
Musically, I guess the songs are a bit more structured. Radio-friendly is a term you could use I guess, though I try not to because the moment you say radio, everyone is calling you a sell out, unfortunately, (laughs) but that’s the reality of it. We have about five songs where Dave, our screamer, is doing clean vocals with Kyle, which I think worked really well. It was like, a direction we’ve wanted to go for a while, actually, and we had to take small steps to get there in order to keep our existing fanbase happy, with heavier songs, like the title track, or track number four, Ghosts being my favourite ‘heavier’ track on the album. The fifth song (Present, Future, and Past) is probably the heaviest song we’ve written as a band. So we’ve taken these small steps to get to a point where we could release a song with less screaming, and more melody, and less structure. So I guess, for me at least, as the main writer it’s been a long awaited arrival for this CD to come.
As the main songwriter, were there any lyrical themes you had in mind while writing the songs for ‘Tracing Back Roots?’
Yeah, it was more of a return to the mindset I had when writing the lyrics for ‘To Plant A Seed,’ which was a really useful mindset. You know, some of the lyrics on that album I was writing when I was like, 17 years old. So, the CD had this kind of tone of youthful eagerness, you know? Live positive, be positive, and that’s it. Unfortunately, on our second record, ‘Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be,’ it was a bit darker. We’d been on the road for like, two straight year and realised there was a downside to touring and things that we’d have to sacrifice in order to live that lifestyle, so there’s a lot on that record about finding negativity in life, and how to deal with that and move forward. So as I’m writing the lyrics to our third CD, I’m writing with more of the positive tone of our first CD, with just a hint of themes from our second CD, with the experience and knowledge that we gained over those few years. I wanna say that it was a challenge, but frankly it was the most enjoyable CD that I’ve ever written, getting to look back at everything that’s happened with the band so far, and basically write about that.
The song ‘I Survive,’ features guest vocals from Aaron Gillespie (Underoath, The Almost). How did that partnership come about?
It’s been something we’ve wanted to do for years. We’ve been talking about it since the first CD, you know. “How crazy would it be to have Aaron from Underoath on the CD?” and as the years went, Aaron started The Almost, and left Underoath, but we always still wanted him to be on it. It was basically like, the dream to have him sing on one of our songs. With this CD, after we’ve spent years trying to build our name up as much as we could, our manager sent the song to his manager and was like “Hey, can you get Aaron to listen to this and if he likes it, maybe he could consider doing guest vocals.” and he heard the song, liked the song, and wanted to do guest vocals. So, it was like, a dream come true for us, you know, we’ve all looked up to him.
I guess it felt pretty good for you guys having reached such a massive goal and dream that you’ve had for so long there, hey?
It was crazy. It’s funny, because it kind of makes sense with the title of ‘Tracing Back Roots,’ and tracing back everything we’ve gone through as a band in the past eight years, and all the dreams we’ve had, and the things we wanted to make happen, the shows we wanted to play and it was crazy thinking about all the dreams that we had way back when we were starting that we thought were unattainable, yet somehow have managed to get. We pretty much owe everything to the people who have supported us. Our fans, friends, family, cause it’s all sort of measured by their support of us. You know, it’s just crazy to think that at the very start for us, that was something that was so far out of reach for us. Something that would just never happen. Then again, we never thought we’d ever go to Australia, or even tour the US at that. Heck, early on, we didn’t even think that we’d even get out of Mihcigan. It’s been a crazy experience thinking about this CD and thinking about the things we’ve dreamed of doing, and the things we still dream of doing, and things we’ve accomplished thus far. It’s been a good reminder to us that as long as we don’t stop working for it, anything is possible.
I don’t think we’ve ever had anything handed to us, we’ve always had to work really hard. Like, today, every member literally took a box of cds out, walked around the show and sold them all. We didn’t have our merch guy do it. He looked after it, all out there trying to push our new record in 105 degree heat, and this is five years after we’ve been signed. We used to do it with our EP, just hoping someone would notice us. We had a rule, where he had to sell 10 copies in order to get their premium each day, which basically allowed us to eat. So we would sell our 10 copies each, then go across the road to a restaraunt and that’s what we ate. So in order to eat, we had to sell CDs, and that’s like, five years ago. And still to this day, we work the same way, with everyone going out and selling CDs to push the record as much as we possibly can, and like I said, it’s been a great reminder to us to keep working at it.
You’re coming down to Australia in November and December for the Australian leg of the tour. How are you guys feeling about that?
I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been too long since we’ve been there. The last time we were there was with The Devil Wears Prada right after we released our second CD, so it will have been over two years. We’ve tried to make it back at least once a year, but we’ve just been too busy, so we’re pretty excited to make it back. I love Australia, and it’s my favourite place to go overseas!
Are there any other bands coming down that you’re particularly excited to see or to play with?
To be completely honest, I don’t know who is on the Australian tour, because we have heaps of friends on the one we’re on right now, and then there’s the UK leg, and there’s different bands on each one. Unfortunately, I wish I could be a bit more educated on what bands are on the Australian leg, or the European one. I had the same thing happen when I was being interviewed by people in Europe the other day and I didn’t know who was on that tour (laughs). I’m sorry, I guess that makes me a bad band member
(laughs) It’s all good. So, like you were saying this won’t be your first time doing the Warped Tour, can you tell some of your favourite memories from the tour?
Well, two years ago was our first Warped Tour. We were on a side stage called the Monster Stage, and it was just crazy for us, to think that we were actually playing on the Warped Tour. We played the Detroit show, and it was huge, and we were playing to all our friends and family, and it was just crazy. It was such a good experience. Tomorrow is actually our hometown show on ths run, which is our eight year anniversary as a band, so I imagine that’s gonna be a very emotional show. I guess I’ll see how that goes tomorrow. But it’s awesome just to be able to tour with so many bands that we’re friends with, and there’s a lot on this tour. Just on our stage, we’ve got like, August Burns Red, and Blessthefall. Then on other stages there’s like, Woe, Is Me, Like Moths To Flames, Set it Off, Upon a Burning Body, I See Stars. Honestly there are tonnes of bands here that we’ve toured with and it’s been really cool.
Given that there’s a good four or five days off in the middle of this tour, do you guys have anything in particular that you wanna do while you’re down in the country?
I don’t know, I’ll probaby just be stoked to be there. I remember the first time we came down was I think the No Sleep Festival?
No Sleep ‘Till in 2010?
That’s the one. That was the first tour we did where we like, flew to each show, and we had our own hotel rooms and stuff, and that was just wild to us at that point, and we took full advantage of everything, going out in every city. So, I imagine that we’ll do the same thing. Go out in every city, see as much as we can, hang out wherever we can and just enjoy the time there
All right, a few quick ones before we finish up. What’s your favourite band that you’ve toured with?
My favourite band that I’ve toured with….I can’t pick one, because then other bands would be mad at me for it (laughs), but I have really good friends in The Word Alive, I have really good friends in The Color Morale, I have really good friends in a lot of bands (laughs). I’m good friends with the guys in Texas In July, really good friends with Blessthefall, and those are just off the top of my head, and they’re all guys that we’ve toured with numerous times that I’ve enjoyed hanging out with. I’ll leave it at those four.
Best live act you’ve ever seen?
The best show I’ve ever seen was probably Brand New. I saw them at a really big venue in Metro, Detroit, and Brand New have been like, one of my favourite bands for a very long time, and it was a cheap show and they were awesome. Another one of my favourite bands were called As Cities Burn, and I saw them before they broke up. It was on a Tuesday, and there were 80 kids there, and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to in my life.
You’re stuck on a deserted Island, and you can take any five records with you. What are they?
Oh, any five? Brand New – Deja Entendu. Underoath, either Lost In The Sound [Of Separation] or Define The Great Line, I don’t know one of them. Then I’d take, Son I Loved You At Your Darkest by As Cities Burn. Tell All Your Friends by Taking Back Sunday. And oh man, I can’t decide. Oh! I would take…uh, I forgot what it’s called. The first CD by The Format. Interventions and Lullabies.
And last, what’s the craziest thing that has ever happened to you being part of a touring band?
Well, just on this tour, we’ve done a lot of meet and greets, and there’s a lot of fans that have told us stories of how we’ve inspired them or changed their lives, and have come up to us and said “Because of you guys, I wanna be here and I wanna be alive.” Because they were struggling with depression or anxiety, and frankly, those kind of stories stick out to me more than any crazy party story or anything like that. Just the fact that there are people that we’re actually healping people with our music, and then being able to hear the stories, it’s kind of surreal. If you asked me even four or five years ago if I would’ve heard something like that, I would’ve said “No, probably not,” but it’s amazing and crazy to think that it has.
All right, well thanks for taking out time to talk to us this morning! I’ll be looking forward to seeing you guys at Warped Tour in December.
Yeah awesome, I’ll see you then.