The background and events leading up to the creation and emergence of the San Diego quintet Wovenwar have been well publicised as since has also been the might and thrilling adventure of the band’s self-titled debut album which was unleashed by Metal Blade Records a few weeks back. It has been a busy time for the band but kindly bassist Josh Gilbert took time out to talk with us about all things Wovenwar including its first steps, the excellent new album, and responses from fans of their previous band.
Hi Josh and welcome to the site, thanks for sparing time to talk with us.
Before we talk about your new album but without going into the well-publicised controversy around your former band mate in As I Lay Dying, can we look at the beginnings of Wovenwar and the decision the rest of you had to make about your musical horizon thereafter? Was the continuing of the four of you from As I Lay Dying in some form a no brainer with only the decision in what direction to be made or was there a serious chance you all would have gone your separate ways?
About a month after Tim’s arrest, we all got together to discuss what our future would be. The decision was unanimous that the four of us wanted to continue on, specifically as a new band. Most of us joined our previous band directly out of high school, so it’s the only thing we know how to do…write music and tour!
How long did the talks and decision to form Wovenwar go on between you all?
It was a one day thing. We met at Phil’s place to hang out and talk about the future and the decision was made that day.
This was obviously an intensive and turbulently emotional time for all concerned, do you feel that has brought something extra to the songs and sound of Wovenwar in some way?
Maybe not the sound in particular, but I think the writing process for Wovenwar allowed us to take our minds off the present in a productive way. We didn’t have to dwell on the past, only look to the future.
Once you made the step and set about working on songs and your debut self-titled album, was there a sense of freedom in any way to starting afresh and making music different to your very successful former guise?
I think the sense of freedom came from knowing our new project had no boundaries in terms of the places we could go musically. We didn’t have a singer yet, so the process began with the 4 of us writing music only for us, no vocalist in mind yet
Musically did you simply see where ideas took you with songs and their sound or did you have some thoughts and intent already waiting to be uncaged which would not have worked with As I Lay Dying?
I think a mixture of both. In the past, there were parts we’d have to shave off or cut out completely due to our previous singer’s style. With Wovenwar we were able to see those ideas through a little more clearly.
For us the band’s sound is very different throughout, though you can obviously find essences which are familiar from AILD just because of the four of you being a perfect fit with each other creatively and musically. Was there any deliberate effort to cast a completely unique proposition or has it all been an organic emergence?
I think the organic emergence came once Shane was in the picture. We had written about 5 songs musically and had given them to him to see what sort of ideas/songs he gravitated to more than others. Once we saw what was and wasn’t working, it gave us a better idea of the direction to head in that complimented both the music and vocals the most.
Some see Wovenwar’s sound as a continuation of the last AILD proposition but forging new territories; we feel it is a wider gulf between the bands than that. How do you see the differences aside from the obvious vocal one?
I think the biggest difference would be in the dynamics. With AILD, we pushed the envelope of speed every album. We were at 110% at all times in terms of tempo, and heaviness. In Wovenwar, we wrote for the song. We weren’t afraid to take the verse down to 50%, only to build up the chorus dramatically and make it feel huge. It definitely allows us to take the songs on more of a ride than we were previously known for.
How did the link-up with vocalist Shane Blay, formerly of Oh, Sleeper, come about and was he an immediate target to recruit?
Shane and Nick have known each other for 15 years, and played in a band together when they were younger. We hadn’t really officially approached anyone to sing when Nick brought up the idea of having Shane come out and jam with us. We sent him a couple of demos and he began writing to them. Once he was here and we heard his ideas we knew it was the perfect fit.
His stunning tones are very much unique from those of Tim, has this made you look at or affected your songwriting in any different way, to help embrace and employ his great voice to full effect?
I think we just made sure that our music fit the spectrum of his abilities, and vice versa.
Give us some idea of the first times you all sat down to write and work on songs or their seeds. Did you take the determined opportunity to try new things and explore new styles/flavours or again was it just a see what comes out type scenario?
We really just sat down and let ideas flow. No preconceived idea of what we wanted, or to venture out specifically, we just let the music write itself and it flowed out pretty naturally.
How has the songwriting process emerged within the band?
Usually a single person brings a riff or collection of riffs to the band and from there, we decide which songs everyone seems to be interested in and we focus on those collectively. 4 separate members wrote songs on the record, which is a first for us.
What are the major inspirations behind the songs and their themes, and does some of it stem from the months between the two bands?
Well, Shane wrote most of the lyrics this time around, but they cover a variety of topics….personal redemption, unfaithfulness, being jaded by the music industry, etc. They cover a lot of ground.
Did you enter the recording of the album and the studio aspect generally any differently than your AILD releases previously?
Not really. Songs were about 95% there already, as we had demoed the entire album before Bill arrived. I guess the biggest difference would be in the sheer amount of time spent on clean vocals. They take longer, and far more effort and nuance to record as compared with screams.
How have AILD fans taken to the album generally?
It’s a mixed bag. Most are positive, and have been amazing throughout the transition. We couldn’t be more thankful to those who have stuck with us. There are a few who don’t know what to make of the vocal change, but we think we’ll win them over. They just have to realize that this isn’t AILD pt. 2, and that it’s a new band. With that perspective, I think a lot of them will be able to appreciate it for what it is, and not a ghost of our former band.
You recorded the album with producer Bill Stevenson who worked on the last AILD album too. Was this one of the easier decisions in regard to the album, bringing Bill on broad and what is it about his work and presence which stimulates you guys musically?
Bill was the only producer we approached, due to Awakened turning out so well. We love the fact that Bill cares more about the structure and how the song builds than the solos, riffs, etc. He helps us keep that in perspective. He also just a great person to work with and it keeps the mood light.
Not only us but seemingly across the board, the album has made a massive impact and reaped deserved acclaim. Has its initial success outpaced your own hopes for its welcome?
We honestly had no idea what to expect! What I can say is that the reaction definitely surpassed our expectations and we’re grateful for that. We know it’s time now to get out there on the road and earn it.
Once again a big thanks for taking time out to chat with us. Have you any last thoughts for the readers?
Thanks so much for checking out the record and we hope to see you crowd surfing at our next show in your town!
Read the review of Wovenwar’s debut album @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/wovenwar-self-titled/
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