Chances are you might not have heard of Come and Rest. The metalcore group out of Atlanta, GA, recently released a new EP called Blacklist. This stuff is hard-hitting with dark melodies and a tone to match. Frontman Noel Alejandro was kind enough to chat with me over the phone to discuss the thought process behind their second independent release. Discover more about Come and Rest by checking out their Youtube page and enjoy the interview below.
IVM: This is Vince and I’m so glad to be joined today by Come & Rest. Noel Alejandro is hanging out with us today from Come & Rest, they are a metalcore band based out of Atlanta, GA. They formed in 2011 and they have a lot of great music. They just came out with a new album called Blacklist EP. Noel, thank you so much for joining me.
Noel: Hey Vince, thanks for having me.
Definitely! Let’s get started by getting to know Come & Rest a little bit. What did you grow up listening to and what got you excited about the thought of making music?
Noel: Well, we can go as far back as to when I was a wee little lad, and my mom was listening to Saturday Night Fever and Michael Jackson.
Noel: Yea, back in the day. I love that stuff, it’s the best thing ever. And you know, later on I started listening to heavier rock music. I actually listened to rap before I listened to rock music. I’m all over the place man.
You know, you and I have that in common. When I was in middle school and high school I was all about gangster rap, that’s all I listened to. I didn’t start listening to rock until later (laughs).
Noel: Yea yea, same here man.
So how did you guys form? You formed back in 2011 in Atlanta, GA. How did that come about?
Noel: Well, I recently moved here to Atlanta from Miami, and I was just recording some tunes at my friends place. Josh, our bass player, just happened to be there at the same time and we never met before. Some other guy was trying to get me to be in his band and Josh overheard my phone number and kind of stole my number from him, and he basically stole me from that guy.
Noel: Yea, it’s pretty funny. We ended up hitting it off. I met Daniel and Mitchell came later, and we just started hitting it off man. It was awesome.
What’s the music scene like in Atlanta? Was it hard for a metalcore band to gain a loyal following, or was there already a scene there that was thriving?
Noel: There’s always stuff going on here music-wise. Every genre, it’s a great place to be for music, honestly. You do have to push hard to get noticed because there’s so much going on. You have to kind of DIY, go to the mall and get people to come out and invite all your friends and just try your best. It’s a pretty vibrant scene if you put your work into it.
Alright well let’s go to the name, Come & Rest. It reminds many people of Matthew 11:28 in the Bible, where Jesus invites the weary to come to Him and He will give you rest. In your band profile on Facebook it says that it’s “morphed into a statement known as a safe haven for your fans to express themselves.” Could you explain that a little bit more?
Noel: Yea, so we obviously derive that from the Bible verse in Matthew, but we wanted to be a little bit more open to people who aren’t as receptive to the Bible or to Jesus. We feel like there’s a lot of people out there that just want a place to feel like they can express themselves and I think that we can be that escape, I guess you can say. Whatever we have in our minds, I feel like we can be their voice to say what’s up there in that noggin, you know what I’m saying?
So you consider your music to be based on the faith that you have but you try not to exclude anyone else that might be a little bit put off by that, is that…
Noel: Exactly, yea, exactly. I personally wouldn’t want to be that way. If I were going to be at a church I wouldn’t want any judgement whatsoever, if I were to go to a youth group or something. I would feel a certain way because of the way that I am and the music that I listen to. There’s places out there that might not be completely receptive to that, and there are places that are. We just want to be there for you no matter what you are, no matter what you do, no matter what you care about, and we want to be that voice for you.
After the release of your first EP Royal Blood in 2013, you started doing some major regional and national touring. What were some of the first national shows like, when you left your home base and started to go to these other venues, places you didn’t have a set fan base?
Noel: It was absolutely horrible to be honest with you (laughs)
Noel: (laughs) Yea, I mean, no one knows you. You’re opening up for local bands. It’s fun because it’s your first time out of your town and it’s awesome because you get to say you’re out on tour, but I’m just going to be honest, it kind of sucks. There’s no one there, but I’m just glad to be playing. That’s the upside I guess, is that I’m hanging out with my friends and I get to play music. Other than that, it was pretty gruesome.
Where was the farthest you guys traveled to play?
Noel: Furthest we’ve traveled would probably be midwest, so New Mexico, or Colorado.
Blacklist has been out for just shy of a month now. What has been the overall response from critics and fans?
Noel: Overwhelming, honestly. I can’t really express how happy I am that people understand what we’re trying to do or sort of understanding. People are just connecting with it, and that’s what matters to me. We wrote this album for us, for the problems that we were going through, hoping that people would understand that. People connected with what we’re going through, and that’s really awesome. I’m really excited.
It’s that honesty that people really connect with. The name of that album matches the tone of it really well. You deal with a lot of dark issues in Blacklist. Was it hard to be so brutally honest about the things that you’re facing? That’s basically offering up yourself and saying, “This is me, this is what we’re going through, and we hope the things we’re going through you can relate to.” Was it hard to do that?
Noel: At first yea, I had my stipulations, but I knew I needed to get stuff off my chest. I knew that I didn’t really care what people thought of what I was going through. I just put it to paper and I told the guys that we have to be really honest in this album because we’re going through stuff right now and we need to let it out. The only way to do it is to write music. So we did that, and we’re happy that people are understanding of our honesty.
I think my favorite track is “Feeding Crows (Evermore)”. Stylistically it stands out to me with more singing and soaring melodies. Are you more comfortable singing or screaming?
Noel: Well I started off as a singer. I used to actually lead worship at a youth group for a while. I did that for a good bit, then I started doing heavy rock stuff. Then I started doing metal core and all that sort of stuff. This is actually the first band that I started screaming in, so I’m definitely a lot more comfortable with singing. This is actually my first frontman position. I used to play guitar and sing in my last band. It’s a different type of singing, you know what I’m saying? It’s all you. I had someone help me write and help me with melodies, but in this case it’s all me. All eyes are on me trying to sing or scream, so it’s kind of nerve-wracking but it’s cool and I’m up for the challenge.
Royal Blood EP and Blacklist EP have both been released independently. How tough is that to release an album all from your own efforts, putting in your own blood, sweat, and tears and putting the album out?
Noel: Yea, so for some reason a lot of these bands nowadays like things handed to them, and I don’t know why because the platform to release music is so easy. Social media and the internet in general is the best platform for musicians like ever. So why not release something that we want, and there’s no attachments and there’s no strings. We can just release it how we want, do the schedule how we want, make the music that we want and go from there. It is hard because it’s all your money and you’re doing absolutely everything, so it is very difficult, but I think it’s rewarding in the end.
If a label came calling, would you be open to signing with them?
Noel: Yea, we’re not shy to look at that. If it comes, it comes. Maybe it has, maybe it hasn’t. We’ll just see.
Sure. The EPs, you’ve put out two of them so far. Why did you make that decision to do EPs and not full length records?
Noel: Simply put, we didn’t have enough money to do a full length.
Well, that makes the decision for you I guess.
Noel: Yea, yea. We wanted to do…for Blacklist actually we wanted it to be like a concept EP, so we wanted to do something like have 3 EPs released in a year, but we just didn’t have the money for it. So we just put everything in the one EP and thought it was the smartest thing to do. We do want to do a full length, that is definitely something that is…we’re actually doing that right now, we’re writing a full length right now.
Oh great, awesome! So how does Come & Rest separate themselves from other metalcore bands, what makes you guys stand out?
Noel: We like to be honest as best as we can. As long as you’re trying I feel like there’s something there that people can grasp. I feel that is what we have and we try to challenge ourselves with music and with bending metalcore, just trying to add more melody and try to be more like us. All four of us originally weren’t in metal bands. We started from really poppy, melodic type music. We’re not shy to put that in there. We’re not shy to add stuff, we’re just not afraid to try things and see what happens.
You’ve had a couple of music videos. The first one was for “Upside Down” off of the Royal Blood EP. That video reached over 10,000 views. The second one was for “Slow Burn”, and you also have a video visualette for “Feeding Crows (Evermore)”. You had to decide what songs you wanted the video for, then you had to shoot the video. Is that a difficult process? How did all that work?
Noel: For “Upside Down” we did it with Sam Link, he did a lot of music videos for Rise Records bands. He was a cool dude. For this new album, for Blacklist, we wanted to try different approaches. We wanted to have a more cinematic type feel for our videos. We want everything in black and white, that’s the theme of the album and the theme of the band right now. When we did “Slow Burn” I asked my friend Andy and we drove to Miami to film that video. Great guy, great music, he does great music but he’s also a great videographer. But his thing is a lot of indie bands and pop bands, so we wanted to kind of step out of that mold of the typical metal core music video and just go with this guy who has never done a metal core music video before. We took that chance and I think it came out really well. The other video we didn’t really want a music video or lyric video, so we wanted a visual interpretation of what the song is. My friend Ben did that for me. I think he did a great job.
He did. I watched the video and it really felt right with the music. It moved well with it. Every little distortion that came with the video fell right in line with the music. It was put together really well.
Noel: Yea yea, we were super stoked on it and we’re super stoked that people are accepting of what we are trying to do. We have a few other ideas for other music videos so we’ll see what happens.
You know, I love the idea that you did a track by track explanation for the Kill The Music podcast and website. I was reading through that and I couldn’t help but really be attracted to your description of “Soap Box” because I’m a big House Of Cards fan too, love that show.
Noel: Love that show man.
(laughs) Although I’m only one episode into season 3 and I haven’t watched the rest of it yet. The way that you describe yourself as Frank Underwood, the lead character, at times when you’re trying to do everything you can to succeed in music. That is a bold statement. That is an evil guy. I’m sure that’s just an exaggeration of how you feel sometimes, is that accurate?
Noel: Yea. “Soap Box” is one of those songs where I wrote it, and I was watching House Of Cards, and I was like, “This fits that music.” And I just started writing. I didn’t know what it was about. When I was writing that track by track I realized, “I’m talking about myself in this song. This is kind of weird, but ok.” I also left it up to interpretation as well. I want people to define their own meaning to that song. To me I felt like I am very like that, obviously to an extreme. I sacrifice family, friends, relationships, and it’s my own fault to the success of my career. I’m ok with saying that. I’m working on trying not to do that, and trying to just get my life together and not burn those bridges, but also have success in my career.
Those are choices that so many bands, especially newer bands, have to make. You’re definitely not alone in that category, making sacrifices. Somethings just have to take a backseat when you’re trying to succeed in the music business.
Noel: Very true. A lot of sacrifice. It’s a lot easier said than done. I knew what I was getting into, and when the things start actually happening you’re like, “Oh no, did I do the right thing?” (laughs) I think I definitely did man.
For the last question, I want you to do a little self evaluation. What is one thing that you believe Come & Rest does exceptionally well and follow that up with one thing that you wish to improve with the band?
Noel: Ok. One thing we do well is I believe our live show is awesome. I take pride in our live shows because we have a lot of fun. What I feel like we should do better is that…we’re really weird. We’re kind of antisocial and I feel like we should be better at talking to people at shows or anywhere. I feel like we could be better at that, that way we could make friends. Right now, we’re our only friends (laughs).
(laughs) Hey, you’ve got an extra friend right here (laughs).
Noel: Yea, thanks Vince!
(laughs) Well Noel, thank you so much for joining us today, it was great talking to you. From the other side of the phone, you have great communication skills (laughs).
Noel: Awesome! Thank you so much, I appreciate that. I’ve been working hard.
(laughs) That’s Noel Alejandro, talking to us from Come & Rest. Thank you for joining us again, and we really appreciate it. We’re looking forward to your continued rise and that full length album, we’ll be looking out for that one in the near future.
Noel: Alright man, expect it!
How can fans connect with you?
Noel: Facebook, all of our social media. Don’t hesitate to add us on our personal Facebook pages because we want to talk to every single one of you. Come & Rest pretty much everything social media. We love you and thank you so much for listening to our music.