There’s definitely something in the water in Ocala, Florida. A decade ago, pop-punk-meets-metalcore titans A Day To Remember emerged from the swamp-riddled peninsula, combining their mutual affection for Blink-182 and breakdowns, only to promptly conquer the world. And from under the ADTR wing, comes metalcore’s newest favourite sons: the five-piece wrecking crew that is Wage War. After setting the scene aflame with their concussive debut album, ‘Blueprints,’ Wage War have returned with their eagerly anticipated follow-up, ‘Deadweight’. Speaking to us from a tour stop in Denver, Colorado, vocalist and front-man Briton Bond took the time to discuss the band’s personal struggle behind ‘Deadweight,’ their penchant for melody and indulging a taste for exotic meats.
Hi, how are you doing?
I’m good man. How are you?
Pretty … good. We just got done with a soundcheck. So, it was a little loud there for a second.
That’s alright dude. While I’ve got you then, let’s talk about the new record.
Yeah, I’m ready when you are.
Awesome. If we can start off with the writing and recording aspects of the new record, I wanted to get your take on how the process differed for ‘Deadweight’ compared to your first album, ‘Blueprints’. What did you guys do differently the second time around?
I think that firstly, ‘Deadweight’ is a really personal record; it’s about everything we’ve faced in the last two years since our first record. We started touring a lot, and it represents a real turning point in our lives. You know… life kind of beats you up sometimes. And then you feel like you don’t really know where to go. So, that’s what the song ‘Deadweight’ is about I guess and that’s where the album title comes from.
Did you guys decide to take a different approach on ‘Deadweight’ as opposed to ‘Blueprints’? Given all the changes in your lives, since that record.
With ‘Blueprints’ – our debut record – you know, most bands have a lot of songs saved up. You know you what this song, and you’ll put it with this one, and this one… you’ve been saving them for a while, right? Whereas with ‘Deadweight,’ I feel like this entire album is about personal struggle; about us being in the band. I know there are certain things that have happened in our lives, that we wrote about and put them on this record, and I just hope that kids can relate.
I know you guys returned to Andrew Wade’s studio (The Ghost Inside, Eyes Set To Kill, ADTR) to record and engineer the record, and that you also had Jeremy McKinnon (ADTR’s vocalist) sitting in the producer’s chair. What was that experience like for you, and how do you feel it shaped ‘Deadweight’ overall?
Yeah, so our first record was recorded with at Andrew’s first studio, and it definitely didn’t have all the bells and whistles that his new studio has. We actually had to jam out a lot of the songs in the studio, in the live room, to really get a feel of them and be like ‘Ok, this part of this song might sound better live.’ We definitely wrote a lot of these songs with the idea of playing them live too. So, that was a big thing on this record: just making things flow better.
With having Andrew and Jeremy with us, they really encourage us to like, get in there and mess around with the songs. Jeremy is really good at refining our sound; which is what a producer should do. “Move this note back here. Cut this part, move this part here.” Stuff like that. So yeah, they’re great (laughs).
For me, I find ‘Deadweight’ to really be an album of contrasts. On your first record, Wage War were definitely a heavy band, but also quite a melodic band at the same time. And I feel like that contrast is even more accentuated on ‘Deadweight’. The heavy parts hit super hard, and the melodies here are huge and epic. Were you guys consciously trying to concentrate and hone those two different sides of the band?
Yeah, we didn’t want to write songs where we were going, ‘Oh, this song needs a chorus. This song needs a screaming part.’ We just kind of wrote the songs based on how the ‘vibe’ was for it. I feel like a lot of bands in the metalcore scene force certain parts in to their songs. The songs on ‘Deadweight’ really just flow; so that’s why the heavy parts are really heavy, and the melodic songs are super melodic.
That makes sense. If we can talk about individual songs now, the first song I heard off the record was ‘Stitch,’ which functioned as your lead single for the record and it’s the song that I keep going back to. Could you explain the background behind that track for me, in terms of where you guys were coming from, both instrumentally and lyrically?
That song is primarily about a loved one leaving you. Whether it’s a girlfriend, or wife, or whatever; we left it open for people to interpret. But it’s mainly about love lost, and going through the emotions of losing someone. We wanted kind of an old school, Slipknot vibe on it. I think that song is definitely my favourite one on the record; it’s super fun, super pissed-off.
Yeah, I definitely agree with you there Briton. It’s by far my favourite track on the album, and I absolutely picked up on those Slipknot vibes in the mid-section too. It’s great!
So, from there, I also wanted to talk about the other side of that dichotomy in your sound, with the track ‘Gravity’. It’s easily the most melodic song you guys have released to date, and really embraces the clean vocal aspect of the band. I also think it represents a progression from some of your earlier tracks on ‘Blueprints,’ like ‘Youngblood’ and ‘Twenty-One’. Could you tell me a little bit more behind that track?
‘Gravity’ came out of us just not wanting to write super-heavy breakdowns all the time. It’s something that we’ve been wanting to do for a while, and with ‘Gravity’ you still get that Wage War-feel to it, but it’s definitely the more softer side of the band. So, I think it’s cool to show that off, and I think live it’ll be a lot of fun too. Kids can take a break or whatever (laughs). It helps give a real good mix to our album so that it’s not just heavy all the time.
Speaking more generally now, Wage War have been extremely busy over the last few years. You had a sharp rise with your signing to Fearless Records, the release of your debut album, and the band had a lot of momentum behind ‘Blueprints,’ with almost non-stop touring every few months. You’ve worked hard to get yourselves out there and establish your reputation as a band. With the release of ‘Deadweight,’ what’s the next chapter for Wage War? What are you guys looking to achieve with this new record?
I think we’re going to be even more out there with this record. I know (laughs). All of our Fall [Spring for those of us in the Southern hemisphere – Ed.] is booked up right now. Then we’re going to be going through the States again with A Day To Remember, and also doing a week-long thing in Australia. So, already it’s going to push the boundaries with us, but yeah, it’ll be cool. Come out to Wage War show! (Laughs.) We’re going to playing tonnes of them.
You mentioned that Australia tour just now, alongside Make Them Suffer and Alpha Wolf, and I believe that that’s going to be the band’s first time Down Under. How excited are you guys for that?
Oh, super excited. I’ve never been, and I think everyone in the band is super excited to come to Australia.
Awesome. What’s one thing you’re looking forward to doing in a new country? Outside of playing shows obviously (laughs).
Um… I’m a big food guy. I like trying new foods in different countries. I’m often just walking around new cities, trying out the different eateries and what not. Hopefully, we see some cool beaches and stuff too. I know Australia has some beautiful scenery there.
Yeah man, we absolutely do. Random question though, do you eat meat Briton? Are you a carnivore?
Yeah, totally. There’s not much I won’t eat to be honest (laughs).
(Laughs.) Awesome. Well, if you like eating weird things and you get the chance, you should definitely try eating some kangaroo and some emu. They’re both delicious.
Yeah? I’m keen to try that.
You should man. You can walk right into the supermarket and buy it. It’s crazy.
That’s awesome (laughs).
Cool. Well, those are all the questions I had for you today Briton. Enjoy your show this evening, best of luck with the new album, and we’ll see you here in Australia next month.
Awesome. Thank you so much!
‘Deadweight’ is available from Friday, August 4th through Fearless Records, and you can purchase the record in all regular formats here. In support of the album, Wage War will be embarking on their first ever jaunt Down Under this September, as the main support for Make Them Suffer’s ‘Worlds Apart’ tour alongside local beatdown crew Alpha Wolf. Tickets are available here.