We Came As Romans return: “We were reopening our wounds every day”
Thirteen months after the untimely death of vocalist/keyboardist Kyle Pavone, We Came As Romans have returned with two new songs. “Carry The Weight” and “From The First Note” find the Michigan-born band working through the grief of losing their friend while committing to keeping his legacy alive. It’s the first music from the band’s as-of-yet untitled sixth studio album.
“Carry The Weight” wastes no time conveying how the band are feeling a year after Pavone’s death. The first verse opens with vocalist Dave Stephens describing grief as “an open wound never healing.” The chugging guitars urge him onward in a manner befitting the group’s decision to continue in the wake of tragedy, and the hook delivers one of the band’s biggest chant-inducing moments to date.
Meanwhile, “From The First Note” continues a tradition of biographic storytelling that has been at the heart of every We Came As Romans release. The track recounts the journey the band have taken over the last decade, and it’s highlighted by an interpolation of Pavone’s vocal track from “To Plant A Seed” in its bridge. Where “Carry The Weight” deals with the present moment, “From The First Note” focuses on the journey the band took to get here.
We Came As Romans are celebrating the release of their new material with a limited-edition merch drop featuring exclusive designs available in small quantities.
Ahead of the new music’s release, We Came As Romans guitarist Joshua Moore spoke with AP to discuss creating music without Pavone, the band’s decision to move forward and how the group have survived the last year of their lives.
“One of the songs, ‘From The First Note,’ I wrote in my bedroom before we lost Kyle,” Moore says. “Then that happened, and everything got thrown into a crazy loop that we’re still kind of in. We’re trying to figure out what we’re doing as a band, how we can ever continue and all that stuff. It’s a little crazy to me that there is this song I wrote 14 or 15 months ago that is now coming out. It’s cool to listen to a song and feel that it’s still good and relevant. I like it more now than I originally liked it.”
We were going to start by discussing “Carry The Weight” because it’s the first of the two tracks. But let’s dive further into “From The First Note” since you brought it up.
JOSHUA MOORE: I started that song in July, and then I sent it to Drew Fulk, who is a producer I’ve known for years, to get some feedback. He [recorded] a scratch vocal on it because he ended up liking it, which he then sent to me. A lot of it is nonsense words to help define the groove and melodies, but it was really good.
Then we lost Kyle, and everything with the band was put on hold. We were just figuring out how to stay a band, really, and how to navigate through that loss. Trying to do anything more than existing was really difficult at that point.
So we’re walking down this road of uncertainty about the future and dealing with the sadness and pain that comes with such a loss. Eventually, we got to a point where we started talking about putting out music just before our headlining tour in the spring. Some of the guys felt rushed, like it was an inopportune time for us to do it. We needed a little more time together living in the current iteration of the group before we were really ready to create new music without Kyle.
After we got back from tour, we started working on songs again, and that was the first one I revisited. We picked a few demos we wanted to write to, and that was the one I chose.
When it came down to it, we ended up writing “Carry The Weight” first, which [features] probably the most depressing lyrics I’ve ever written. Hopefully, [it has] the most depressing lyrics I will ever write because I don’t want to go back there. It was a really heavy time on my soul, just revisiting everything and the emotions that came with it.
That song, specifically, was about what I felt playing shows again without Kyle. We went on a tour with Bullet For My Valentine about a month after losing Kyle, and I hated every moment of it. There were a few times on that tour actually where a few of us almost went home. We were onstage every night playing these shows, everyone is crying and I can’t even face the crowd. I was kneeling, facing our backdrop. It was a terrible experience to go through, and it influenced “Carry The Weight.”
Then I talked to the guys, and we decided we didn’t want to write a bunch of depressing lyrics. We have never been that band, and we didn’t want to be that band now. When you lose someone, you feel all the emotions. There is the sadness and grief, of course, but then there is the memory of the person and the impact that person had on your life. Being able to take that angle with it for “From The First Note” was a lot easier. A lot less tears were shed writing that song because it was nice to look back on the last 10 or 12 years we had been together. It was a chance to celebrate and cherish that. Being able to find an ounce of gratitude that we had those times together is really important, and I think it’s great we found a way to show both sides of the coin with these tracks. We hope fans pick up on that as well. To quote, “Feel the good emotions with the bad.” We are trying to find a way through this time.
“From The First Note,” specifically, feels like a continuation of a story you’ve been telling since “To Plant A Seed.” The use of Kyle’s vocal track from that song makes it feel like a bookend to an era for the band.
That is very accurate. We’re figuring it out. People keep asking when the album is coming and all that. I mean, the album is coming. We are working on it, but we aren’t going to rush to put out a bunch of songs because we can. Also, at the same time, I can’t write 10 songs about losing Kyle. Mentally, that will destroy me. I can’t dwell in that. So now it’s about figuring out how to write moving forward.
Cold Like War was a big collection of what were essentially failed relationships. Some in the music industry, but others far more personal. Everyone in the band connected to that, and now we all connect to losing Kyle, but we don’t want to sit in it. We don’t want to choke in that pool of depression. It’s so unhealthy, and I don’t feel that it’s the best way to honor the memory of Kyle.
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But we knew the first step had to be writing about him. There is nothing else we could have done that would have felt remotely OK to us other than writing about Kyle.
If we could go back to last year for a moment. You embarked on a tour with Bullet For My Valentine roughly a month after losing Kyle. You spoke about how difficult that was, but how did it come together? How did you start the conversation of what happens to the band after losing Kyle?
Our manager flew in from L.A. for Kyle’s funeral. I remember talking to him after the funeral and telling him, “Just cancel the tour—we’re done.” Not that I thought we were breaking up, but nobody in the band wanted to do it.
A week or two later, we had a conversation, and we decided that if we wanted to continue as a band, we should go out there. We should see if we can even do this. Beyond that, if we are all going to be grieving so much, we [figured] we might as well be together. We could spend every day together, and we could talk to one another.
There were days on that tour when we would sit down to check in on one another, and multiple members would hate what we were doing, myself included. I was like, “I hate this. I hate everything about this. If it gets any worse, I’m buying a ticket, and I’m flying home.”
We were reopening our wounds every day. There wasn’t a time when I felt like I was healing or not getting depressed out of my fucking mind. That feeling, for me, then came through in the lyrics of “Carry The Weight.”
There were therapeutic moments as well, of course, but overall, it was really hard to do.
Here we are basically one year after that Bullet For My Valentine tour kicked off. At that time, could you imagine you would be here now, talking about new music and the future of We Came As Romans?
Honestly, at the time, I didn’t know [what would happen]. I was still in the mindset of the current day. Sometimes I was trying to make it through the hour. I didn’t have much foresight on anything, let alone the band. But now that we are here and we have these songs we’re proud of, I think we’re doing exactly what we need to do.
You’re beginning a tour with Motionless In White that stretches through October. What comes after that?
We’ll come home from tour, take a little time to decompress and then we will return to the studio and finish the record. These two songs are the only ones we’ve recorded, but we have a collection of other songs we are working on. We have a good half in various states of completion, and we’ll be working on the rest soon.
09/29 – Jacksonville, NC @ Tarheel
10/01 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
10/02 – Birmingham, AL @ Iron City
10/03 – Destin, FL @ Club LA
10/05 – Tyler, TX @ Clicks
10/06 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
10/08 – Albuquerque, NM @ El Rey
10/09 – Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
10/13 – Tucson, AZ @ Encore
10/15 – San Antonio, TX @ Vibes Event Center
10/17 – Columbia, MO @ Blue Note
10/18 – Belvidere, IL @ The Apollo Theater
10/19 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
10/20 – Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room at Old National Centre