BREATHEcast had the chance to interview singer and guitarist Stephen Cobucci of metalcore band Wolves At The Gate. We discussed their new acoustic Reprise EP (released yesterday), music's power, and the direction of their music.
BREATHEcast: As a metalcore and heavier band, did you find it difficult to convert some of these songs, and were there parts that needed to be changed to accommodate the feel?
Stephen Cobucci: In some ways we found it difficult to convert a couple of these songs because of the dynamics that we have present on many of our tracks. Although, many of these songs started on the acoustic, a lot of times it can become difficult to truly hear what a song is sounding like until you strip away all of the instruments. We love playing heavy and aggressive music, but we also like the idea of pulling away what could be distractions from hearing certain songs in their purest form. As people listen to the EP they will be able to see how some songs translated on point and others we took some liberties with to create a form more suitable for an acoustic dynamic.
BC: Nick Detty does the screaming vocals for the band. What was his involvement with the reworking of these songs especially with all the guest vocals in spots?
SC: While you won't hear much of Nick's voice on the EP, he was definitely a contributing factor in the project. While his physical voice isn't heard, Nick is actually a pretty good piano player and was helpful in the process of adding piano into the mix. As well as piano, there are numerous spots on the songs where a screaming part is turned into a melody and that was something that the two of us worked through to make sure we could keep the feel of the original rendition with these acoustic formats.
BC: How did you guys choose which singers you wanted for guest vocals, and were the songs crafted with certain people in mind? Do these spots change the dynamic of the EP?
SC: Each guest vocalist on the record is a friend of ours and someone we respect in all manners of what they do respectively. Before we started the project it was an idea that Ben, our bassist, and I had where we would feature a friend of ours on each track to further help with the idea of giving these songs a different sound and feel. So while we were on tour this past fall, we got together and constructed a list of guys that we would like to sing on the EP and on which songs. Knowing that each singer had their own unique sound and style, we tried to pair them with songs and parts that would fit their voice and give the song a new twist as well. We were really pleased with each guest spot on the record and how it added a new layer and feel to each song that we couldn't accomplish on our own.
BC: The songs sound so much more poetic stripped down like this. Do you think these songs have a new life or sense of meaning for people because of how almost worship-like they feel?
SC: Just like I was saying earlier, it can be really easy to be distracted by the big guitars, drums, and the intensity of our vocal performances. While we love the style of music that we write, at times I wonder if it causes people to miss the heart and meaning of what we are writing songs about. We truly hope that these renditions give the songs a new life and our listeners a chance to maybe hear something that they easily glossed over before because they enjoyed the song for its musicality. We also hope that listening to the songs in this way will cause our listeners to hear the words and content of each song in a truer sense.
BC: "Waste" is such as awesome track, and sounds a little more like how the band normally sounds. Is this rendition of it the acoustic version, will there be a heavier version, or is this how it is?
SC: I'm glad you enjoyed 'Waste' as it is a song that we collectively are proud of and were really excited for people to hear. 'Waste' was written for this EP as an exclusively acoustic song. We aren't completely sure at this moment as to when, but we definitely want to take the song 'Waste' that we wrote on the acoustic, and do the opposite. We want to take it and turn it into a full band song. The idea right now sounds awesome and fun, but I imagine that it is going to be quite challenging to say the least. We look forward to it.
BC: You guys will be touring with Emery and Sleeping Giant. How will your set work? Will it be just the acoustic stuff, or a mix of that and the full sound of the older music?
SC: For our tour with Emery and Sleeping Giant, we are going to play a normal set full band. We hope to have the opportunity to play some of the acoustic versions after the show given the opportunity.
BC: I think you guys are a perfect fit with Emery, kind of the older guys in the scene and you guys, on the newer spectrum. Both make solid music that features two vocalists and range from heavy and clean. How important is it to have a band like Emery or say even a group such as Haste the Day, be relevant and still making music after so many years?
SC: I think it's great that Emery continues to write and record new music. If you ask most guys in bands, they would tell you that their favorite part of being in a band is writing new music. It's a great mix for the scene for bands that have been doing it well for so long to continue making music because it just expands and broadens the variety of what bands like us are trying to do in making music. It was great as well to see that Haste the Day decided to get back together and write a new record. They were a band that made an impact on the music scene and it's cool to see what type of music they create now that they have been removed from the scene for a while.
BC: Why do you think music is such a powerful medium for evangelizing, and how important is that message as a band?
SC: Music is a powerful tool to convey emotions and feeling in various ways and shapes. There is something that music can communicate with sounds that any other medium cannot accomplish. The message of the Gospel is one of pure beauty. When you stop to look what it is that God did so that He might save man, it is truly a thing a beauty. That the God of all things would look down upon feeble and rebellious man with a love so grand that instead of punishing all men for their sinful rebellion that He would punish His perfect Son by putting Him to death instead of the sinner. People simply must hear about the goodness and mercy of God so that they might believe on His Son's work of grace and His willingness to receive sinners. This is a message for those that believe and don't believe simply must hear for their sake and because it is a beautiful message that is worth being spoken of.
BC: Are you guys working on new music aside from this release, and can we expect a full length anytime soon?
SC: As soon as we finish a record we are hard at work to get started on the next one. Recording a new full length is definitely on the horizon. As to when, that we do not know yet.
BC: Anything else to add?
SC: We hope to see many of you on our upcoming tour. Thanks for the interview.
BREATHEcast reviewed the band's acoustic rendition album here. Read a snippet below:
"Overall, Wolves at the Gate do a magnificent job at recreating their songs and bringing an atmosphere to the tracks to make them new. The production work is done well, and the renditions are believable. Often times when heavier bands try to make their songs acoustic, it sounds forced or awkward, but these guys picked great choices and arranged them right. All of the features were also on the money and added a bit of variety to the album."
Wolves At The Gate will be on tour with Emery for their You Were Never Alone Tour, along with Sleeping Giant beginning Friday.
(5/15 & 5/16 w/ Forevermore instead of Sleeping Giant)
5/15 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
5/16 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
5/18 Orangevale, CA @ The Boardwalk
5/19 W Hollywood, CA @ The Roxy Theater
5/20 Las Vegas, NV @ Backstage Bar & Billards
5/21 San Diego, CA @ Epicentre
5/22 Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction
5/23 Phoenix, AZ@ Joe's Grotto
5/25 San Antonio, TX @ Korova
5/26 Houston, TX @ Scout Bar
5/27 Ft Worth, TX @ The Rail Club
5/28 Springfield, MO @ Outland Ballroom
5/29 St. Louis, MO @ Firebird