A face-to-face interview with Ben Witkowski, bassist and lyricist for Texas in July.
Eric Pettersson, IVM: Start with your name and what you do in the band.
Ben Witkowski, TIJ: I’m Ben, and I play bass.
The first thing I want to talk about is that you just signed to Equal Vision Records. How did you get hooked up with them, and what made you decide to finalize that deal?
Well we signed to CI Records in Lancaster here first, and then we were kinda just working our way around. We still had some people in high school, and once they graduated we started taking things a little more seriously and we were label shopping a little bit. We got a few offers from a couple other labels, but Equal Vision seemed like the right one. And we wanted to go with that one, and we stuck with it.
Okay, and you’ve got an album that you’ve already recorded. Do you know when that’s coming out yet?
Um, I can’t say, but it’ll be soon. Soon-ish. Nothing like six months, nothing like now, but in between.
Do you have a title?
Yes, but I can’t say that either. This will be better for… soon it will be released. The street date and the title and everything, within the next week or so. So that will be out there, and you can put that in, so kids know that it’ll be coming out, like we’ll start publicizing it very soon.
Alright, great. And you recorded with the producer Zeuss. How was that?
It was amazing. He’s real old-school, and he records a lot of heavy bands. And we were gonna do someone else, but before we ever even knew who we were gonna record with, we always joked around. We were like, “Let’s go to Zeuss. They’ll never pick him.” And it actually happened, and we were more than pleased with his work. He was very, very dedicated to getting everything done the right way and on time. It turned out great, and we love it. Can’t wait till it comes out.
For people who know what you sounded like on previous albums, how does it compare? What should they expect?
It still has the same Texas in July feel, but for the most part we used more feel less science, if you will. Like Adam’s drumming is still technical, but he kinda dumbed a little bit down. So it’s a little more easy listening, something to bob your head to. It’s a little heavier, a little angrier, a little brighter at the same time though. Big open endings like we’ve always done, like big epic chord progressions, stuff like that. But overall it’s…. I personally think it is different, and I hope the listener likes it.
Where does it go lyrically?
Lyrically, I took it to a positive dark place. I know that kinda contradicts, but some of it’s angry, some of it’s positive. There’s a very religious song on the album as well. That about covers it.
One thing I’ve noticed, you’ve also gotten a lot of comparison to August Burns Red. You know, you’re both young metal bands from Lancaster. How do you feel about the comparison?
When we get compared to people, or people call me an ABR rip off, I take it as a compliment, because they’re a great band. We always looked up to them when we were little, and I guess we, Adam and Matt do have similar drumming styles. There’s nothing separating that; like, that’s the truth. But on the new album, there’s no comparison. We stepped away. We tried to create something new for ourselves.
How do you think growing up in this area has shaped you, as a band and as people?
You know, like, I love the small town. I love big cities too. But growing up in like farmville Ephrata, PA, it’s like, I don’t know, I had a great high school experience. It’s nothing crazy. It’s a very relaxed lifestyle here. And as far as the band’s concerned, it didn’t really do anything. We kept just doing the thing that everybody else does. I don’t really think it matters where you come from. Like, it’s just your heart and where you want to go with it.
You’ve been very open from the beginning about being a Christian band. Different people mean different things when they say that. What does it mean to you?
To me, I personally have a very strong relationship with Christ, as well as the other guys in the band now. Some of our fans may realize if they are Christian listeners that we don’t really preach on stage, and we don’t really preach in our lyrics too much, but I do want everybody to know that we are strong Christians. And on this tour actually, hanging out with For Today has really been a blessing. They’re great guys, and they’ve been showing us new things and teaching us new things. And they’re great guys. They’re saints.
Awesome. Is this your first national tour, or have you done that before?
Yeah, I’ll call it our first national tour. The other ones that we’ve done were kinda DIY. And, they were booked. We didn’t book the tours ourselves, but it was nothing like this. This is huge.
So how do you handle maintaining your relationship with Christ while you’re on the road?
Well you know, you just have to keep the faith. Bust out the Bible every now and then, read a little bit. And like I said, talking to For Today. I pretty much go in their RV every single day, and they watch videos of this guy who preaches to large groups of people. They have Bible study every day. I just try to spend as much time with them as I can, because they’re just very influential guys.
I also put a little news post on the site saying I was going to be interviewing you, what did people want to know. One of the questions that came up, one of the people wanted to know how you deal with groupies.
Groupies. [Laughs] Uh, I don’t really know what they mean by groupies. Like, girl fans, I would assume? I don’t know, they’re all nice. I don’t take it anything further than that. I talk to them, give them an autograph, whatever they want. It’s been too… it’s never been a mega issue, I should say.
Alright, that is all of my questions. Is there anything else going on that I didn’t ask about that we should know about?
Did we talk about the upcoming tour with For Today in Canada?
Well, that’s it. We’re going on tour with For Today, Straight From the Path, and Structures in Canada immediately following this tour for about ten days. Besides that, keep your eyes open for the street date of the album and get your hands on it.
Yeah, no problem, man. It was great.