"We get kids showing us tattoos of our lyrics all the time. People have connected with us and we want to keep that connection" – hmv.com talks to The Word Alive
Arizona's The Word Alive are one of the fastest rising bands around at the moment. Formed in 2008, the band have released two records, 2010's Deceiver and 2012's Life Cycles to much acclaim and are readying their third album for an early 2014 release.
They're currently on tour around the UK with I See Stars and Dayshell and we caught up with their frontman Tyler "Telle" Smith to talk about their new record…
So far along are you with the new record?
Telle: "I'd say we were about 80% done, maybe 85%. We have to record two or three more songs when we get home from this tour, but then the record will get sent off to be mixed and hopefully by late March, early April the record will be ready to come out."
Do you have a title yet?
"That's still being worked on, we like to have the whole record done and then we sit down as a band and listen to it and everyone writes down their different ideas and then we look at what we come up with. We'll do that in January and decide then."
You've worked with Cameron Mizell this time round. What's he been like to work with?
"It's been a really great experience. He's really easy going and has quickly become a good friend of ours. He lives in Arizona, which is where everyone in the band, aside from me lives, that was just that much more comfortable for everyone else. I flew in from L.A and stayed at a hotel and it meant that the rest of the band could sleep in their own beds. He made recording really easy, least it felt like it."
What kind of recording sessions have they been? Relaxed? Stressful?
"I think the band have really liked being at home and it meant they could come in refreshed everyday. On top of that we feel like we're much tighter as a band, we've had a solid line-up for two years now, especially now Luke (Holland, drums) has joined the band, this is the first record with him.
We're much closer, we understand each other so much better, this record feels much more like a progression. This feels like a collection of everything we've done so far as a band. We really paid attention to what our fans said they love about us and which music they've told us they've responded to. We're trying to be the best version of ourselves that we can be."
How do you feel this album moves on from Life Cycles?
"Although there were aspect of that record we were looking to keep, especially the emotional nature of the lyrics. I mean the title track from Life Cycles has really inspired people; we get kids showing us tattoos of our lyrics from the song all the time. People have connected with that album in much deeper way and we want to keep that connection.
I was 21 when I joined this band, I'm 27 now, I've seen us develop and grow and I feel a lot more responsibility towards the fans now. I want to be something for them, not just create cool songs, something much deeper than that".
What's inspired the lyrics on this album? Is it a personal record? A political one?
"It's mostly personal. A big part of it comes from the same place as a couple of the songs on Life Cycles in that it comes from a dark place, but it feels like there's light at the end of the tunnel. It's a hopeful record mostly, but there are a couple of songs that do stay dark, there's even one that has this moment where I sing 'Don't believe in me, I'll bring you down, I want you to drown, I'm water in your lungs'. It's about being a negative person and how having that mentality can really affect other people. It's a song about being that you're at a very low point and realising that.
I don't want to sing something for every song to give you hope, sometimes you just have to have a soundtrack to what you're going through. When I'm a bummed out mood, sometimes I want to listen uplifting, but other times I want to listen to something that lets me know that the singer is feeling what I'm feeling.
Some songs are sad, some are happy, some are more stories about being in tour, it's a very real album."
This is the second record you've written without keyboards, has that changed the way you write? Has it helped?
"I think it definitely has. It's freed up the way we write. Writing on guitar means we can focus more on that instead of always thinking 'We need to dumb this down to fit the synths in'. We focus on what's right for each song now, we do still have samples and keyboards and pianos, they still shine, but we don't write songs with that in mind anymore. It's about what the song needs".
So what's 2014 got in store after the record comes out?
"A lot of touring. We have Brazil booked for late January, early February and then we're going to do a US full tour after that with a little bit of Canada. Our goal is to come back to the UK before summertime and then we've another huge summer tour, which we'll be announcing in January. I'm really stoked to do it all."
Finally, what's been your favourite album of this year?
"Actually, it's by this band called The Neighbourhood and it's called I Love You. I love this record; it's kind of got that Imagine Dragons feel, a little edgy, a little poppy, but still indie rock. It's good to have a break from screamy music when you get off the stage and I love listening to that record."
The Word Alive will release their third album in early 2014. You can catch up on the rest of their back catalogue at hmvdigital now.