BD Music contributor Sammy Key got the amazing opportunity to chat with Steven Bradley, guitarist of Iwrestledabearonce, who have a new album, Ruining It For Everybody, out as of yesterday through Century Media Records (get it on iTunes). Sammy and Steven spoke about all sorts of topics, from the All Stars Tour to the new album to Steven’s clothing line. You can check it all out after the jump!
I wanna start off by talking about touring. I saw you guys live at Irving Plaza last March with Dance Gavin Dance and it was beyond intense. What was that tour like and how did it tie in with the new record and writing new material?
We’re always writing on our laptops, we use a program called Reason…we program out drums, do all the piano and synths and strings and what-not, and then we’re in the van, and we don’t actually have a guitar and we’ll just program out the piano notes that are going to be or the guitar part, so we’re new to the wonders of technology and the internet! Of course, we’re just working on stuff, and we’ve been doing that since we finished the last album, basically. I mean, we hadn’t finished the songs that were going to go on the new record until almost a month before we started recording it, it’s kinda weird, we just sort of mess with ideas and sit on ‘em, and then finally we’re like “Alright, well let’s get down and assemble some songs.”
And you guys are going to be on the All Stars Tour, that’s a huge deal amongst all the bloggers! I’ve heard a lot of people talking about that; it’s a lot of big name bands. What are most excited about for this tour? Do you know anyone else on it personally?
Yeah, it’s pretty cool, we know like, half the bands already! And we’ve already toured with about five of them, so it’ll be fun, it’ll be good. It’s always cool to go into a tour where you already have some friends. It’s like showing up at Summer camp and you already have some friends there, it makes it a little less awkward. I don’t know, we did Warped Tour last summer and this will be slightly less work and less heat, so we we’re all pretty stoked. And we can actually use our light show on [this tour], because it’s indoors.
I have to say, when I saw you guys the light show really made it for me. It’s a great show!
Thank you! We’ve had the light show for a good couple tours now, and even just practicing without it is a bummer now, we’ll set it up at practice and we’ll turn off the lights and it’s just like, “Damn, I feel so much cooler.” And we just run it off the laptop, so it does stuff that’s humanly impossible to do with a light board, because it’s just moving so fast and flashing so much crazy shit. It’s fun.
After the All Stars Tour ends, you guys are going to play two shows in Alaska. That’s awesome! Can you talk a little bit about that location and why you guys decided to do that?
Basically, we would love to play anywhere on Earth, so if it’s open, we make it happen and a promoter in Alaska contacted us and said “Are you interested?” and we said, “Um…of course!”. So we’re going to play two shows in Anchorage, it’s pretty crazy. It’s weird to think about, because I guess more bands go do shows in Europe, but we can go to Alaska, so it’s funny.
So I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of your newest record and I am very impressed. What is your favorite thing about this album, or what are you most excited about for the fans to hear? What was the most fun about creating it?
The whole CD this time around was awesome, because we tracked it at our house. We already had some recording gear, just from recording bands for awhile, and I mixed our last album. Whereas with this one it was just all me, you know, doing all that stuff, so it was way more laid back. It could be 4 AM and we’d just do shots of whiskey and then go track the guitars or whatever the hell we wanted to do. The part I guess I’m most excited for people to hear is we have a track that’s got a full choir part going on, kind of out of no where, following one of the heaviest riffs on the album. To me that’s pretty damn awesome.
It seems to me that this record showcases Krysta’s vocal range a lot, I hear a lot of her famous screams but I’m also getting a lot more of her melodic and clean vocals, its great! How do you think you challenged yourself on this record, or maybe applied your skills in a new way? What about the other members of the band?
Well we wanted to write more parts thats were a little bit catchier, I mean this CD has the heaviest stuff we’ve ever done, but also the weirdest, or memorable? I guess you would call it. I mean we actually repeat stuff a whole lot [on this record] and we actually do do a chorus part, and its way stronger, especially the vocals are stronger than on the last album. The music makes a little more sense. With the last record we had like, ten days to write the entire thing, basically. Whereas with this one we’ve been writing on the road, just because we’re terrified of repeating the experience of last time. We played this one out a little bit better, and I think it definitely shows…I think it’s a little more organized, which is what we were going for. And then we just wanted to record it itself to be a little more crisper. And then with the vocals, we ended up doing some of it with our friend Ryan in Atlanta, but then we actually ended up scraping all of it, and doing them all again. We did all the vocals actually here in my bedroom, in Los Angeles. And for me personally that was the most challenging part of recording. I don’t know, I guess I wore hats for writing and recording, to tracking, and then the nerdy audio engineering part.
The sample at the end of Break It Down Camacho is pretty creepy. Where do you guys get your samples and what do you look for when choosing one?
We just kind of do whatever. That one actually is a voice mail message that Krysta’s grandma left on her cell phone. We just ran it through Pro Tools and we sort of slowed it down at the end, made it creepy sounding, and it kind of fit the song. All the lyrics are about [Krysta's] grandfather who died, so it kind of fits into it with her grandma’s voice message she sent to her. With this record we don’t have quite as much, on the last one we had a car horn and shit, and we don’t really have any samples like that on this one. We just sort of come up with an idea and just do it. A lot of bands we play with listen to that and say, “Aww, I wish we could do that.” And it’s like, “You can do that, you’re in a band. You’re your boss, so why don’t you do what you want?” And they’re like, “Oh, well people who like us might think it’s dumb, like our manager tells us it’s stupid.” And I say, “Well, you’re in a band for the opposite reasons I’m in a band, so.”
One thing I do want to talk to you about is a news bulletin I saw about you guys on AltPress a few months ago. It said that you guys were changing your musical direction to black metal and you made a few comments about image and unveiled a new logo. Most people claimed that was just a joke, but what was the motivation behind it?
Our friend Jeremy Stafford came on our last headliner, and he’s a famous photographer, he’s literally shot every band or person you could think of on Earth, and we were just looking through his book, and I mean he literally shoots everything, I mean he’s toured with Britney Spears and Christina Aguleira, and he’s toured with Cradle of Filth. So we were looking through his book, and on one page there would be this heavy jack-asses and then you flip the page and there’s all these black metal bands that look so pissed and have ravens on their shoulders and there’s blood and crazy shit and we just said, “You know, we should do a black metal shoot, because that’s awesome.” So we did the shoot and we said, “Wow, these look really legit.” So we just did that whole thing as a joke, and a lot of people got really upset about it, saying that we lied, and we misused our publicist and you know, made everyone look bad. I don’t know, it was pretty funny. If anyone had any prior knowledge of our band, I don’t see how they couldn’t tell that was a joke.
Steven, you just started a clothing line, as well. Do you want to talk a little bit about the inspiration behind the designs and why you chose to work with Vh1’s Save The Music Foundation (which I think is great, by the way).
Basically it’s something that I’ve been thinking about doing for awhile now, I just needed some money to start up anything like that, which I don’t really have. But, you know, credit card debt is a good thing [laughs], and I pretty much decided “Well, I’m gonna do what I want to do.” I want to try to help somebody out, because basically I had the support of my family, and they were always supportive of me and they would help me get new instruments or whatever. And now, a lot of kids don’t even have music programs at school, because we’re all stuck and the country’s going under and we can’t afford them, so Save The Music is a program that will help them start up if they don’t exist or get programs going for schools where the football team just got new uniforms so the music department gets cut. So it’s pretty sweet, you never know what people are coming up now that might not have found a passion in music had it not been for that program helping their school out. I don’t know, just trying to do something decent with my life because I’m a terrible terrible person, you know, because I play jokes on the internet about being in a black metal band [laughs]. And I love art and design and all that, so why not?
Now since this is an interview for Bloody Disgusting I want to ask about your interest in horror. There is definitely some scary imagery in IWABO, both in the lyrics, and just the way the music sounds, but would you consider yourself a horror fan? Is anyone else in the band?
Like every single person in our band, some more than others, is a super big horror fan, especially for B movie, crazy, ridiculous, insane shit, like low budget. During recording our last record, the Nightmare on Elm Street series was on repeat, and for part of our tour diary we actually visited 428 Elm Street where the movie was filmed. The bridge we walked over every day to get to recording was the actual bridge that was in Nightmare on Elm Street. The point being is we’re super huge fucking horror fans, for old school horror. Yeah…we’re nerds.
If you had to pick, what would you say is your favorite horror movie?
I don’t know, there are so many genres within horror. Um, definitely my favorite horror villain has got to be Freddie, just because he’s a sarcastic asshole while he’s killing people. Which, obviously, we all relate to. But I don’t know, maybe Dead Alive!
Dead Alive! is a great movie, I agree.
Yeah, and then you think about the fact that Peter Jackson has gone on to do like, King Kong and Lord of the Rings and all this shit, makes it even better. But yeah, we all love horror movies, that’s why we’re filming this movie music video thing we’re about to do. We’re about to film like, a 30 minute, legit script, The Wall, Michael Jackson Thriller style thing, except it’s a horror movie where everyone gets brutally fucking murdered.
That’s awesome, when’s it coming out?
Around Halloween, we’re gonna have a DVD of it, too. And we’ll do some screenings of it while we’re on tour. And hopefully I’ll talk to you about when it comes out…shit’s gonna be pretty wild, just put it that way.