"If this album turns out to be our last one, we’d be happy with this as our legacy" - The Word Alive
When we chatted to The Word Alive frontman Tyler ‘Telle’ Smith late last year, he was full of enthusiasm about the metalcore types new record, telling us he was sure it’d be their best one yet. Now it’s finished and he’s not changed his tune, we caught up with him again to find out how they came up with the title and why they ended up recording two more tracks with feared/respected producer John Feldmann.
Your new record Real is out next week, how are you feeling about it? Are you nervous or excited?
“I am so many things. Nervous and excited are two of them, but there so many things. We’ve waited a long time for this album, this is everything to our band, it’s everything we are.”
When we spoke to you earlier in the year, you seemed like you’d had a really great time making the record, did that continue right up until the end?
“Yeah. We tried finish a little early so we could go back and work on it. But we didn’t rush anything and it was great to have that time when we went on tour to assess what we had and work out what needed to be done. I’m completely happy with it, there’s nothing we’d go back and re-do.”
You did the album mostly with Cameron Mizell, but there are two songs on there that you recorded with John Feldmann, how did that come about?
“Cameron did 12 tracks, John did just two, one that is going to be a bonus for the UK and another. We’d been interested in working with John for a while, he’s one of my favourite producers, I’d always said to the label ‘If there’s ever an opportunity to work with John Feldmann, I want to’. Fearless (the band’s label) called us and said there are two days that opened up in his schedule, we believed we can get two more songs out of it. So I drew to his studio and the guys flew out to L.A and we went to work.”
What came out of the sessions?
“I think we made two of my favourite songs on the record, they’re quite different, but so great. We went in with the mindset that we’ve got our record done, anything we get here is a bonus. We tried to write something fun and anthemic in feeling, so that’s what we wrote.”
He’s known as someone who works bands hard, did you feel that?
“He and Cameron are so different, Cameron is so chilled, he’ll have a couple of drinks with you then we’ll record and then we might go out and get some wings. With Feldmann you’re recording 200 feet from his house, the house where his wife and kids live.”
“Cameron wants you to be comfortable, Feldmann rocks your world, he does not care about comfort, he wants you to be uncomfortable. He wants you to break away from what you think you know and what you think you need to write. He drills right down and makes you get to the emotion of the song. It was very high pressure, but in the best way possible.”
It sounds exhausting and so intense…
“It is so intense, but I love that. He makes you better in every single way, it really works it get stuff out of you that you had no idea you had inside you. He doesn’t give your brain a chance to think about the stuff that doesn’t matter, he only cares about the song. I know plenty of musicians who don’t like that, who want to be chilled and take their time, but I loved working with him.”
Would you do a full record with him?
“I would love to. He called me actually, about a week ago and said to me ‘I think we need to do a full record together’, he’s one of my favourite producers of all time. I guess if he feels like that he must have enjoyed the work as much as we did.”
When did you settle on the title?
“We came up with the title quite late on, we were bouncing stuff around on tour in Mexico and we were playing a one-off with Parkway Drive. We decided to head out and have a beer before the show and we were throwing around titles for the record and what it meant to us and the word ‘Real’, kept coming up. Every time we’d play stuff to friends they’d always say ‘you’re such a real band, real people’. It summed up the record perfectly, we don’t have a gimmick, we don’t wear make-up, we go and out and play. This is The Word Alive, this record is full for all of our fans. Even if this album turns out to be our last one, we’d be happy with this as our legacy.”
Is this the longest you've ever spent on a record?
“I think it may have taken longer to make than both of our previous records combined, we were in the studio for a lot longer, but we accomplished so much more. We had to go away to go on tour, so that meant things took a little longer, but it was very much worth the extra time spent.”
You said that the record’s main lyrical message was a dark one, but that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Do you still think that?
“I do. Tracks like ‘Terminal’, which is easily the darkest song on the record, but there are also songs like ‘Lighthouse’ which are meant for people who are struggling, who feel like they’re going insane, to help with that. There are songs for every mood, there are songs for if you’re feeling pissed off, songs for your workout, songs to lift you up, there’s literally a song for every mood you could think of. I wanted this to be a record that everyone could take something from, all our fans. I want to mean write songs that mean something to people.”
What’s the plan for after the record comes out?
“We’ve got Warped Tour, then we’re trying to work out some international stuff. We try to make it to the UK and Europe twice a year and I hope that continues for a long time to come. We’re really working on our live show too, we want people to walk away from our shows blown away.”
The Word Alive’s new album Real is released on Monday (June 9th). You can check out their back catalogue in our digital store by clicking here.