Editor in Chief Erik van Rheenen sat down with Dave Stephen of We Came As Romans at Warped Tour a few weeks ago. Erik and Dave discussed Tracing Back Roots, musical progression, Warped Tour, future touring plans, and more. Check out the interview below!
Can you introduce yourself and your role in the band?
Dave: I’m Dave. I do vocals.
So, just talking about the new album, what does it mean for We Came as Romans to trace back your roots in 2013?
Dave: The artwork pretty much describes everything we’re trying to do with the record. You know, it’s our usual guy we’ve had on every record and he’s on the cover, and he’s holding roots with him while reaching towards the sky. It’s pretty symbolic of how we’re always trying to move forward and progress in every way — musically, in our lives, and everything else. But it’s important to bring your roots with you.
POZ: Did you ever think the guy would ever stick through all of your albums?
Dave: (Laughs) When we did Understanding What We’ve Grown to Be, Paul Romano, who does all of our artwork, started sketching it out and he used the guy again. We were just like, “This is going to be a lasting theme.” And now we’re already thinking about for our fourth record how we can continue to use him, or how that’s going to evolve, but we’ll worry about that when we get there.
POZ: He’s like a mascot.
Dave: It almost represents us and how we keep growing. I wish Andy was here to help describe it: he’s the art guy. But I’m pretty stoked on the artwork. Paul Romano’s a genius. Everything he does is just gold.
You talked a little bit about progression. Lyrically and sonically, how have you guys progressed on the new album?
Dave: We’re all just getting better at songwriting and our instruments and everything like that. You know, it’s our third record. It came together really nicely. I think the record has a really nice dynamic to it — there are some really lighter songs like “I Survive,” “Moment,” and “Never Let Me Go.” And then we have a couple songs that are the heaviest songs we ever wrote: “Present, Future and Past” and “Tracing Back Roots.” And then we have some of the normal We Came as Romans stuff that’s nice and balanced, but I think it’s a cool listen because you don’t really know what the next track’s going to sound like. It’s a very diverse record.
POZ: You guys recorded with John Feldmann, right?
Dave: Yeah. He’s awesome, man. That guy can just come up with choruses like you wouldn’t believe. I feel like that’s something we really wanted to shine on this record — we wanted really big choruses, powerful choruses, choruses that get stuck in your head, and John Feldmann really helped us get that. That guy works so hard, and he’s so energetic, and for us, we just clicked really well. We made more songs in less time than we needed to. We had an extra week and a half in the studio and didn’t even need it. And we had three extra songs that we didn’t even use on the record. He’s a genius.
Are there any lyrical themes you tried to weave through the new album?
Dave: Yeah. This record’s pretty hopeful, I’d say — no pun intended. A lot of songs are about if someone’s down, helping them, like “Never Let Me Go.” One of the lyrics is, “If our lives reverse / And if you fall in first / I will hold you close / I’ll never let you go.” It’s about helping each other. People get down; people go through really difficult things. A lot of themes are about the fact that you have to help those people get through those difficult things. You can’t just leave them out there to dry. You have to be there for them, you have to be their friend, you have to be their brother or sister.
That’s just how we always are. We’ve been a band for eight years as of tomorrow, and we’ve all been through a lot of good times, a lot of really harsh times together, and the six of us have always been there for each other.
Album leaks have plagued the music industry for years, but 2013 has been a different kind of year for leaks. There has been a true amount of transparency from bands and labels on leaks in our scene, and we thought we’d take a closer look in a two-part Perspective series. Written by Editor in Chief Erik van Rheenen, the first part of Has It Leaked? It Leaked. Why And What Now? can be read below!
Album leakers are soulless vampires with torrent ratios where most people have hearts. They forget about the Jesse Cannons of the world. Take, for example, the overeager Man Overboard fan who leaked a Real Talk cut — a month before street date — to her Tumblr while Cannon, the band’s manager, was walking through Union Square on his way to meet a girl. Cannon scrapped his date, pulled out his laptop, and spent his Friday night begging the fan not to upload more tracks to her blog. With sites like What.CD and It-Leaked upping their arsenals, leakers have set the precedent: it’s no longer if an album will leak, but when.
So why is We Came As Romans singer Dave Stephens all smiles when he says — with just a touch of defeat — “I think it already leaked anyways, like last night” on a scorching Thursday in Cuyahoga Falls? The “it” Stephens mentions is Tracing Back Roots, his new record, slated for release the following Tuesday.
The band’s previous record, Understanding What We’ve Grown to Be, leaked “way too early for our liking,” Stephens quips with the ghost of inescapable frustration. He’s got every right to be pissed the hell off that it’s happened this time as well. But five days from release, this leak seems more like a pale sort of victory.
“Equal Vision was aware that it was going to leak last night or today since we were doing a live stream, and as soon as you do that, it’s out,” Stephens says. “What’s cool about it this time is that we pretty much decided it’s going to leak today….this one was perfect.”
Welcome to what Cannon not-so-jokingly calls “the crazy Internet age,” where an album leaking less than a week early is perfect. Forget about if entirely— when has become the new standard.
“Dealing with leaks is a common occurrence these days,” says Earshot Media’s Mike Cubillos. “In fact, labels almost expect that it will eventually leak. Usually the label finds out before I do and when they let me know, I can’t say I’m too surprised. But it’s definitely frustrating.”