We Came As Romans talked with us at the Rock’n Derby festival in New York about how they beat Memphis May Fire in a burrito eating contest, what they’d do differently on their next record, and how Kyle Pavone creates his own made-up words and imaginary god to worship pre-show.
Because the press tent was actually a “press barn” at the Rock’n Derby Festival, I forced vocalist Mattie Montgomery of For Today to sit in a tiny, uncomfortable wooden chair that we can only assume is usually used for milking cows. In this video interview, he tells HXC Magazine about his favorite songs from Wake and just how awkward it is to be here.
The Rock’n Derby was a weird little festival very much off the beaten path. In Schaghticoke, NY, bands from Stray From The Path, to Halestorm, to A Day To Remember gave performances on Saturday, May 21st–just one of the three days of the event. Nestled in rural New York, the festival featured not only bands, however, but wrestling and demolition derby. It also featured some not so cool things, like a surprising number of Confederate flags, only further proving my personal theory that if you drive far enough north (or in any direction, really) you eventually hit The South.
Check out some shots we got from this one-of-a-kind festival. Banged-up cars, face-painted wrestlers, and Levi Benton? Yup. All here.
One more thing about the Not So Summer Slam Festival that we still need to tell you: The entire day was riddled with technical difficulties. From blown out speakers to failing microphones to screeching feedback, it’s probably safe to say no one made it through the day without some kind of issue. But that’s what makes it DIY, right? Punks ain’t supposed to give a shit anyway.
“The goal was exposing fans to a variety of bands and we did just that.”
What happens when a show gets cancelled? You turn it into an all day music festival instead. At least, that’s what Dean Santa, 23, of Staten Island did, and that decision has started to put some life into the local scene. Even if it was all by accident.
When you go to a date of a big headlining tour with hundreds of other people in the room and a stage yards away and above, you can have tons of fun. But spending a whole day in a small room of locals where everyone knows each other and bands and fans share the same graffitied floor is a different feeling altogether. You’re not there for a show anymore, you’re there because you’re a bunch of people who connect through loud sounds and spray painted walls.
Read the full interview transcript below.
HXC: How’s Mayhem been for you so far?
Tyler Dennen: Really cool. Definitely the coolest tour we’ve ever done.
You’ve been playing a lot of new songs from your latest record, The Lovers//The Devil. How’s that been?
Really good. It’s definitely been an interesting and challenging experience because the music is a little bit harder to pull off live. We’re doing it every day. We practice a lot beforehand. So I’m feeling pretty confident about it.
It’s a very complex album. It has a large duality to it. Could you give us a brief explanation of that?
Well, the whole idea is that it’s a split CD–the first half being the lovers, the second half being the devil. And the music, lyrics and story are supposed to reflect upon that change. So the first half of the CD is less aggressive and more towards the melodic side. The story follows the male and female lead where the first half, the male is the lover and the female is the devil and it switches. Throughout the record that switch happens slowly until midway and then reverse. And then the devil’s side musically is supposed to be heavier and more dark sounding. Heavier, lower tuned, more drone-y kind of stuff than the first half.
And what were some of the major musical influences for the album.
I can’t speak too much on the music side of it because I didn’t write any of the music. But lyrically, inspiration for me aside from personal experience and things that I was going through, the band My Chemical Romance is always really inspirational to me. And the band Thrice.
Why did you want to utilize more clean vocals this time?
It was just something we’ve always wanted to get into. Going that route really opens you up to a much larger audience and singing is something I’d rather be doing more than screaming. So just trying to usher in that age of kind of [headed] more toward the mainstream, for lack of better terms, kind of slowly.
A lot of the lyrics have these whimsical, almost child-like rhymes that you play upon. What made you want to do that?
I thought it would be kind of cool to put some ironic twists on the lyrics and song names because it would kind of lessen how intense it really is. Kind of like make it easier to digest.
What would you say is your favorite track?
You just did a video for that as well. How was the video shoot?
It was cool. It was very, very, very last minute, but I think it came together really well.
Your first full-length, The Death Card (XIII) as well as the new one both utilize tarot cards. What’s your fascination with tarot cards?
When I came back to the band, which was before we put out The Death Card, our guitar player Zak [Gibson] and I decided that it would be cool to go down the route with tarot cards because we really liked the imagery on them, the art on them, and the fact that the meanings behind them aren’t necessarily verbatim. You can kind of take what you want from it, which is something I really try to strive for with our music.
If you could be any tarot card, what would you be?
I would definitely be The Fool. That’s kind of what I was looking at for the next CD.
What kind of musical directions are you thinking of going in for your next record?
Not a fucking clue.
Do you think it’s going to be a concept again?
I kind of want to steer away from conceptual records, to be honest with you. I don’t feel like I really know what I’m doing enough as a person who’s trying to convey a story and write lyrics. I don’t think I have the correct rhetoric to be able to really solidly put down a story out there. So I think I’d rather take myself a little bit less seriously and just get what’s in my heart and chest out, rather than being stuck to the guideline of a story.
What would happen if the zombie apocalypse happened right now? How far would you guys make it?
My band? [Laughs] We would die pretty damn quick.
What would your weapon of choice on this bus be?
[Picks up free weight] Throw one, then run away.
How would you describe your genre? You guys are kind of all over the place, in a really cool way.
I would say emotional more than anything. I don’t wanna say ‘emo’ because we’re not like that, but my main prerogative in this band is to get people to feel something. When it comes down to the lyrics and the music I think all we’re trying to do is put emotion into something tangible. So that would probably be the genre, I would say. Emotional.
Out of all the bands on Mayhem Fest, who’s been your favorite to watch?
I love watching Thy Art Is Murder. We love those guys.
If you could bring one record with you on a deserted island, what would it be?
I’d probably say Vheissu by Thrice.
So what exactly have you guys “sworn in” to?
Doing this. Travelling and doing music, I guess that’s the only thing. And we’ve got a bunch of contracts so I guess that’s kind of like being sworn in.
Where’s your favorite place you’ve played so far?
I really, really like playing all of the west coast—California, Washington, Oregon. I also really like Louisville, Kentucky and Texas is always great, too.
If you could describe your time on Mayhem in one word, what would it be?
Interview by Natasha (a.k.a. Mascot) Van Duser
Two Words: Phil Bozeman.
While metal music reigns supreme at the Rockstar Mayhem Fest each year, it is bands like Whitechapel that always tend to dominate. Opting to play the Victory Records stage when they easily could have fronted the Main Stage. PhillyBo and Co. delivered the heaviest set of the day and rocked the festival for a well deserved 40-minute set. From their showmanship, musicianship, and Bozeman’s legendary guttural screams, Whitechapel stole the show. In case you missed it, check out some of the live shots we got at the Holmdel, New Jersey date of the festival.
All photos by Taylor Markarian.
This year, HXC Magazine had the pleasure of hanging out with, interviewing, and photographing the rad bands on Mayhem Fest. While we’ve still got some content coming your way from the beloved metal festival, it looks like the tour itself is at its end. Not just for the summer, but for good.
Early today it was reported that due to declining hype and ticket sales, festival co-founder John Reese has decided that Mayhem will be throwing in the towel. Are you sad to see it go? Tell us about it, and read Reese’s statement below.
When your guitarist’s sound shuts off mid-set, you improvise the guitar solo with doo-doo-doo’s in your vocals. When the crowd isn’t moving fast enough, you jump down into the circle pit and get shit moving. At least, that’s how Thy Art Is Murder vocalist CJ McMahon runs the show. And of course, nothing says “brutal” more than a banana yellow guitar and a popsicle shirt, right Andy? Check out some metal photos of Thy Art Is Murder from the Holmdel, New Jersey date of Mayhem Fest 2015 below!
All photos by Taylor Markarian.