Today, WE CAME AS ROMANS re-issue their 2011 album Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be with three new songs the band recorded and worked with producer John Feldmann (Four Year Strong, The Used) on last year. Just as he was finishing a food-court meal (“We’re playing at, like, a mall. I don’t know. It’s very awkward”), AP caught up with guitarist and lyricist JOSHUA MOORE about the decision to do a re-release, the new sound and the criticism the band expect to get because of it.
INTERVIEW: Cassie Whitt
You re-issue 2011’s Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be today. What’s the motivation behind that? Why are you re-releasing it now?
JOSHUA MOORE: Well, the CD has been out for about a year and a third now. It came out in September 2011, and we did some songs in the studio that we’re super-stoked about that showcase the direction that we’re going in. It’s just too long to wait to put them on the next CD, because then it would be almost two years before we came out with any new music. And, you know, you can’t really release new songs without just putting them out as singles, because then they don’t really have a home. No one can have them in physical form. It’d just be, like, an iTunes digital release and stuff like that. And so, we decided to do a re-issue of Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be. We did the same thing with To Plant A Seed. This one has two new tracks that we recorded with John Feldmann, and then another track that we initially recorded with another producer then had John Feldmann mix and master it.
Which one is that?
“Let These Words Last Forever” we originally did at the Machine Shop studio, and then we had John mix and master it. Then we did “Hope” and “The King Of Silence” with John at his studio in California.
In the initial statement about these tracks, you said these new songs are indicative of the direction you want to go in, and you also said it’s sort of a progression while sticking to your roots. Having heard them, I kind of know what you mean, but can you expand on that?
The song “Hope,” we just released has this huge electronic feel to it. There’s a keyboard throughout the whole song. It’s mostly reminiscent of elements of To Plant A Seed, like “Broken Statues” or “Beliefs.” We used a lot of those keyboard sounds on that CD. Then, as the song progresses, it has kind of a verse-chorus style to it, which is definitely something new to us. We’ve never done, like, straight verses before, but we tried to put our own little spin on it, and then instead of a bridge in a typical, mainstream song, we did a breakdown, which of course, we’ve done since the beginning of our band, and over the breakdown, we have a clean guitar lead that I play, which is something we really focused on on Understanding. There was a ton of clean guitar on that CD, and it was something new that we kind of dove into. It has this electronic element of To Plant A Seed, with the clean guitar and the low ambient leads of Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be, while diving into something new with a more anthem-like chorus.
The songs are pretty anthemic, and I could hear the clean parts you put in, and elements that maybe you would have thrown in and sectioned in the past seemed to be more woven throughout.
Yeah. It’s definitely a struggle to… It’s hard to not keep releasing the same CD over and over and over again, and as much as you want to force the progression of your band, it has to be a natural thing, too. We tried to take the things that came natural in the course of our band in the course of songwriting and those are things that we just wanted to do, that I just wanted to write. It wasn’t like, “Oh, I need to do this because it’s popular” or “It’s what people expect” or anything like that. It was just where we wanted to take our songs, and so we did “Hope” with this mindset of let’s write this song where we want to take it, but leave a little hint of where we came from and where we’ve been in the past. I guess the structure of the song is new to us—something that we haven’t done before, like, a very strictly verse-chorus type structure with a little WCAR spin on it.
The one thing that runs through all the songs is that, obviously, you have a message. The songs are really empowering, and that’s pretty fitting, because you guys are about to go on the Take Action Tour, and that tour’s all about having a message. What are you trying to say with these songs?
The song “Hope” is really a unifying song. It embodies our whole message as a band: that we need to, I guess—[Laughs.] no pun intended, but band together as a group of people to make it through. It’s trying to call people to the cause, to the message and everything. “The King Of Silence” is more about figuring out who you are as a person and being okay with that and being happy and being confident. “Let These Words Last Forever” is another song that, up to this point, is kind of like the summary of our band. As we progress and gain fans and everything—and I knew, especially with the song “Hope,” there would be people who hated on it and say we are “selling out,” that we aren’t ourselves anymore. “Let These Words Last Forever” is about how we’ve never been a band that has in any way revolved around money or fame or popularity. We’ve always had this image of positivity, and it wasn’t just to reel in the cash or anything like that. It was because that’s what we were about. And that song is just about how we would rather have all of our words be remembered—all of the things we’ve done as a band, all the lives that we affected be remembered—before our names, our faces. You know, “This guy in the band is my favorite.” or “That guy is my favorite.” It’s never been about that. And I’m sure that we’ll be under a little more scrutiny with our next CD after releasing a song like “Hope,” which is not a typical We Came As Romans song. Hopefully with that scrutiny, all our fans can remember that it wasn’t about any of the things that people accuse us of: money, fame, popularity or any of that. It was always just about making a difference.
(Click through to continue reading. See why Moore thinks fans will dislike "Hope" and his thoughts on online fan criticism.)