I’ve loved Crown The Empire for goddamn forever. I remember when I heard ‘Voices’ on YouTube a solid four years ago and jamming the everloving shit out of it. Looking back now, the video is pretty freaking cringey, and that dry ass china symbol in the right earphone really hits me where it hurts but I’ll be damned if I don’t still know every single word to it and still love this band with all my heart. These guys are a powerhouse in the metalcore scene, going from strength to strength and always pulling out all the stops in making their music and their live show a cinematic and theatrical experience. Add that to the fact that they know how to write huge sounding songs with both intensity and finesse and it doesn’t get much better than this. Keeping my composure as I fanboyed out talking to vocalist Andy Leo, we chatted about their incredible new record, ‘Retrograde’.
How’s Warped Tour going, Andy?
Warped is going awesome! We got new music, we got great crowds and we got all the best friends in the world on this tour. Things are going great.
Sounds great! It’s been awesome to see your band’s growth over the few years. I remember seeing much smaller crowds on your first Warped Tour in pictures and now it seems like they’ve tripled in size! How are you processing that in a few short years you’re a lot more prolific?
Watching it grow has been awesome. Our first time we were on the smallest stage and setup and we had decent crowds but seeing the concert progression has been awesome. People come out and they’re excited to see us and is waiting around late to see us. We played at 7:30 the other night and I thought, ‘Fuck, no one’s gonna wanna come see us that late in the day’ but people came out and it was awesome. It defiantly feels amazing that people are so stoked to see us.
There are a fair few metalcore bands on the tour this year and it can seem like a pretty dense genre with a lot of bands that sound the same so I’m keen to know why you think you guys have risen above the pack and I guess, stood the test of time so to speak?
You know, throughout the metalcore scene we’ve always been clumped into the Risecore vibe of bands and a lot of people write us off but we’ve always had a softer side to us I think than most bands. We’ve had ballads on our albums since the initial EP that put us on the map. We always focus on the song first. The catchy choruses more than anything. So a lot of bands just inbreed the music and have the same indistinct sound over and over again but for us we were just like, ‘Fuck it. Fuck everybody else and let’s do our thing.’
— Crown The Empire (@CrownTheEmpire) 10 July 2016
Definitely. And I think that’s really going to show when ‘Retrograde’ drops. Speaking of, I’m wondering what the reason behind calling the record “retrograde” was as that means to play a series of musical notes inverse and backwards. It literally means “backwards and upside down” and ‘Retrograde’ still sounds a lot like you guys with a bit of difference but it’s not a complete reversal of your sound.
We really just wanted to change things up a bit at the end of the day. ‘Retrograde’ does just sound cool and rolls off the tongue a bit. But at the same time, you can’t ignore the future of your band and what you’re going to and that idea od retrograding was how we wanted to make our music from then on. Going to do this record and not knowing what was going to come out on the other side was scary as well as what we wanted to talk about. Like, how you can’t ignore the past and not address what has failed and what hasn’t. And that’s what we were sort of going for especially with the whole 60’s psychedelic vibe we were going for.
There also seems to be a huge disconnect and disenfranchisement between people on this record with songs like ‘Hologram’ and ‘Signs of Life’ and the video for the former of course.
Oh absolutely. We used space as a theme on this record immensely but we didn’t want to have a “space” record as such. You know, we’ve been on tour for so long and often that a lot of our friends have either gone or moved onto something different. A lot of our relationships are gone altogether. We wanted to write something was really honest and true yet still had that cinematic theme. I think the reason fans were drawn to us for that reason. We always had the theatrics, yet we like to it think more as cinematic which fits more with what we were trying to do with our aesthetic.
That’s obviously explored in your video for ‘Hologram’ with the astronaut as the main focus.
Yeah, exactly. The guy in that video is pretty representative of like, a 2001 Space Odyssey theme of losing time for us. We’re not actually losing like space and time in a fourth dimension crap but what I mean is, when you leave for the road and come back, you expect everything to be the same. But it’s not. Every time we came back we found ourselves a bit more distant from our parents and our girlfriends and just our friends in general. I found less and less in common with them. I sort of realised like, “Holy shit, I’ve been gone for six months. This person’s not gonna know anything about me.” All I have to talk about with them is my crazy ass experience on the road. But we were all in it together and in our own bubble and seeing these things change together. So that’s what that was all about, that video.
Yeah, I definitely got a big ‘The Martian’ vibe from it as well. In a strange world, away from everyone else and lost.
Oh yeah, for sure!
And obviously, this year’s gonna warrant that same experience for you guys. I saw on Twitter that you’re only gonna have about a month off for this entire year in total and it got me wondering if this intense lifestyle of being in a band is starting to wear you down a bit or is your passion for it much stronger than that?
We definitely lost our way for a bit. We got brought into the lifestyle of being gone. After living the same thing for fifties days in a row, playing live, sleeping badly and eating junk we just lost sight of what was important. And that was that we got to live out our passion and our dream. For a while, we saw it as a job but going into this album we saw what we were doing and realised that this was our actual lives. This record is like our one shot and I think every band gets that so hopefully we can pull this off.
I hope so! We’re running a bit out of time here so I’ll just finish with something basic as fuck that I really want to know: When are you guys coming down to Australia next? Soon? ‘Cause I’m so keen to see this new record live.
Dude, I fucking hope. I really want to play songs down there as I have so many friends but honestly, we are booked so far out for this year and next. Hopefully sooner rather than later but not in the immediate future.
Fuck. Oh well, I’ll just have to wait. Thanks for the chat Andy and I wish you the best for the rest of Warped. I know you guys will kill it.
Dude, thank you! Take care and be safe, man!
‘Retrograde’ is out now via Rise Records. Stay tuned in the coming century for when the band finally announces some Australian dates.