The story of Wovenwar is a fascinating one, formed out of the ashes of metalcore heroes As I Lay Dying, the band have been busy fighting for their own identity and history with some great songs under their belt. The band are currently doing the promotional tour for their latest album Honor Is Dead, a darker entry in the band’s discography. In September I got the chance to speak to bassist Josh Gilbert about the band’s history, the new album, being in the shadow of As I Lay Dying and the band’s future plans.
Note: This interview was conducted before guitarist Phil Sgrosso departed the band.
Jack: Hi, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Josh: Great, thanks for the interview!
Jack: You’re about to release Honor is Dead. Given that Shane Blay (vocalist) said that, “For a while, I put my ear to the ground and listened to criticisms of my voice and how I chose to use it on our debut – and learned that doing that is completely counterproductive to being creative.” will you be reading reviews of the upcoming release?
Josh: We always value what our fans have to say about the material, positive or negative. I think we just have to take it with a grain of salt and make sure we are being honestly creative and making music that makes us happy, above all.
Jack: Was it an obvious decision to make the second album darker and more personal?
Josh: During the time of writing the first Wovenwar album, we all had a sort of optimism for new beginnings. For those of us having been in As I Lay Dying, it was a chance to escape a chaotic and disappointing chapter of our lives. For Shane, he was stepping into the role of being a frontman and writing music with a new group of musicians. That environment definitely led itself toward an almost “forced” air of positivity in many of the lyrics. Which is not to say that it was inauthentic. I think we maybe left out some of the more negative subject matter in hopes of staying positive through a situation that, at the time, could have defeated us in many ways.
Jack: The album has been described as heavier, do you think bands are too obsessed with making their albums heavier?
Josh: I’d actually say the opposite. In my view, a lot of bands sort of go lighter to “open up” their sound to a more diverse audience as they grow in popularity. For us, we didn’t really consider going heavier, I think it was just the general vibe and attitude we had going into the writing process that affected how the songs turned out. We’ve all been in heavy bands, so I think we just tapped into that a little more this time around.
Jack: Would you say that making this album a group process helped the writing process?
Josh: It definitely lent itself to a more diverse sounding record. Shane definitely contributed a lot more guitar-wise than the last record, which is great.
Jack: ‘Silhouette’ is a song from that album that I love and it was one that I believe was written in 2012. Did the song change in any way from its inception to the finished project?
Josh: That song was originally written for a side project Nick and Shane were doing around that time. If I’m not mistaken, the overall structure of the song stayed the same, and Shane just added melodies and vocals.
Jack: ‘Stones Throw’ is about the trustworthiness of the media. Are there any news channels that can be trusted?
Josh: I believe you have to take all news and media with a grain of salt. In my opinion, you have to always study several sides of the same story to arrive at a conclusion that takes both sides’ bias into account.
Jack: Can Planet Earth be saved?
Josh: I assume you mean environmentally speaking? I sure hope so! I think once the current crop of leaders and policy makers of my parents’ generation are gone, we will start to see the change we desperately need to address the immense damage we’ve done to our planet over the past century or so. It will take politicians/lawmakers whose futures actually depend on this to implement those changes and who will not be dead by the time those changes change our lives drastically.
Jack: Was the recording process a smooth one?
Josh: In some ways, yes. In others, not at all. Writing-wise, the songs came together very quickly and there wasn’t a ton of friction between us in getting them to that place. Recording wise, things got a little tricky. We decided we wanted to do the record without a producer once our original choice fell through. In doing this, we would be able to do EXACTLY what we wanted musically and get the exact takes we wanted, so it seemed like a win-win situation. What we weren’t taking into account was the need for a “tie-breaker” vote when we were deadlocked on certain decisions with the production aspect such a slight riff changes, layers, vocal phrasing, etc. Although things did get a little tense at times, I actually think we learned a lot on how to communicate better and work with each other a bit more efficiently.
Jack: Obviously the fact that 4/5 of the band were in As I Lay Dying, do you think one day you’ll move beyond the As I Lay Dying comparisons and references or will this be stuck with you forever?
Josh: I think it’s bound to happen. We had a lot of success with that band, and with such an extravagant story behind its demise I think it’s hard to forget. I think the more we write great music and tour, the more people will see it for what it is – a separate project.
Jack: Do you have day jobs outside of the band?
Josh: Most of us have a side hustle in addition to the band. I produce bands at my studio; Nick does a ton of video stuff, and some of the guys own a music venue in San Diego. We do whatever we need to do to continue playing music full time.
Jack: Censorship has been added to Spotify, what are your thoughts on Spotify?
Josh: Spotify is great for growing bands. At this point, the downsides to streaming services seem to still be outweighed by upsides. I think as physical (and even digital) sales continue to plummet for all bands, we’ll see even more upsides for artists evolving.
Jack: You’re doing an extensive US tour in October/November with Soilwork, which will be your first tour for a year, are you mainly playing new material?
Josh: We’ll definitely be playing at least four new songs. That’s always a great feeling.
Jack: Do you plan to return to Europe and the UK anytime soon?
Josh: As soon as possible. Ideally, by Spring 2017.
Jack: What else is coming up for Wovenwar?
Josh: Tour, tour, tour, repeat!
Jack: Finally, Nirvana’s Nevermind turns 25 this month, what does this album mean to you?
Josh: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was one of the first guitar-heavy songs I ever heard as a kid, and I can barely remember a time when I didn’t know that song (it came out when I was 4.) Even now, 25 years later, that song is as heavy and vital as ever.
Jack: Thank you very much for your time, I hope to see you in the UK soon!