After a few years of a little DIY managing We Came As Romans (WCAR) met Matt Stewart at one of their shows. Matt would become their representative at Outerloop Management and their gatekeeper to the professional music world. Matt got the guys in with Joey Sturgis (The Devil Wears Prada, Emarosa, Attack! Attack!) at Foundation Studios. The guys paid out of pocket for the recording. With an understanding of the economic state many of their fans were in they released the EP, Dreams, to fans for free. This one choice provided the needed push for attention from Equal Vision Music. Being a very family oriented label Equal Vision A&R guy, Dan invited WCAR to his house to hang out and assured them that they could pursue whatever kind of touring life they wanted be it house shows or mega venues, the road was up to the band. With a strong work ethic and after some significant member changes and role shuffling within the group WCAR pushed open the door to full time touring in the mainstream.
Jess caught up with bassist Andy Glass in Lancaster, PA just before they began the Emptiness Tour with Alesana and A Skylit Drive.
We were thinking about it (and) we really wanted a theme to our band. A lot of us in the band are Christians, but others weren’t really Christians, but they still kind of believed in like [those] kind of [ideals]. They just didn’t want to label it because they feel like it makes these boarders and segregated lines. It’s not the fact that we’re like “We can’t be Christian because we just don’t want to be affiliated with it” ya know? It was more like let’s talk about something that everyone can share, everyone can have. That would be really awesome. So we’re like well, God’s rule is to love one another, to love others as you love yourself… let’s talk about love and play for love. And [we] kinda started this thing where our whole band was about love. Josh’s mom actually told me this on the way to church or something. And she said love has no arguments. Which is really cool because you can’t be divided. If you’re a Christian and you really like the lyrics, you’re like man this really makes you feel loved. If you’re not Christian if you’re anything else, you can be like “Wow, I still really feel loved”. You can’t really argue with it. It was just like this cool idea that no matter what, loving that person and once you have that love, finding that thing you want to be attached to, set your morals to what you want. And just always know to love one another and respect one another. We’ve just kinda been going with that.
It’s cool because the guy that did our CD art work, told me a story. He said “I think I know why your name is We Came As Romans,… there’s a story in the Bible about back in Rome [in Biblical times]. Rome was the most, it was like a wicked city. It’s basically “hell on earth”. Six six six translated in the Jewish number system means “king of Rome, leader of Rome, Caesar of Rome. And ah, It’s basically like, picture, babies being thrown into lions dens. They persecuted Christians and [so many other people]. And there’s this one guy, Paul, he was one of the dudes doing the torturing, he eventually became blind and he was banished [from Rome] because he was different. The people that had escaped or were [also] banished helped him and cared for him. He regained his eye sight and he saw the world with completely new eyes and learned to love everyone. So “we came as Romans” is kinda like this upbringing of open your eyes to the world and love even if you are [some]one like [Paul]. Kind of like love everyone ya know? That’s kind of what we’ve interpreted it to be. [Our name is] not necessarily something that was made up [from that story], but created and [then we] built purpose off that.
You said you grew up in a missionary family right?
So how does that play into what you’re doing now? Maybe kind of explain a little about your upbringing.
When I was 4… we were missionaries living in India for like half a year or something. We helped fixed up a church and a baptism pool. It was cool because my grandma has been doing it too, she’s been all over [the place]. She’s [been a missionary] for forever. I’ve always wanted to do something with missionary work. I’ve gone to Mexico and help build houses there and stuff when I was a sophomore in high school.
It’s been really cool because my dad, he’s an educator, so he was a little freaked out about this idea of me being in a band. The whole stereotype of it, you get into drugs, rock ‘n roll, you get into sex you get into all these bad things. I [told him] “Dad, come on give me this chance”, ya know? I basically told him, well one night we had this big argument. He [told me] you’re not going to tour, you’re not going to go out. He just kind of crushed my dreams ya know? It got kind of sour and I went up stairs and my dad came up later and was like, ya know everyone has those deepest dreams what they see as ‘real life’ [or truly living] and they just dream about it, that’s the beauty of dreams is that they’re unreal [and amazing]. To achieve something that seems so unreal and impossible in this life is like achieving your dreams. And that’s kinda how we got the song ‘Dreams’.
It’s just been really cool to travel the world and tell people about love. I have a lot of cool one on one talks with people, talk to them about God. And I can learn from them too, and hear their awesome journey. That helps me learn and helps them learn that we’re all connected somehow and that we can all share love no matter who we are. It’s a really unreal feeling. I’m just so blessed that I can play music, [something] that I love to do and I can help other people [through] that music, and I can talk to other people and help save them or have them save me. It’s like two of the best things combine into one. I’m just so grateful and thankful for it.
Is it hard as far as being a Christian on the road and not being surrounded by people that believe the same thing you do as far as other band or your band members?
I wouldn’t say it’s that hard. It’s a little weird sometimes, because you’re not 100% comfortable ya know? We’re together day and night, I’ve grown accustom to [respecting] what you believe if you respect what I believe and we all get along and love one another. That’s how it is, that’s how it should be [in any situation], if you really think about it. No one on earth was given a proper robe and gavel to be a judge. In the end [times] people will be judged. I’m not 100% sure [what will happen]. Personally I think that maybe someday people will be judged. So just think about what you think is really right and really true and [those standards are] only held by that person alone. [They] do what they think is really right what they think is truly good in their heart.
You guys just barely missed that pretty severe weather that came through the Mid-Atlantic area [a few days ago]. What do you guys normally do when you have severe weather when you’re on the road?
I’m not gonna lie, we usually, we’re pretty like stick to your guns kind of dudes when it comes to traveling and getting stuff done. Not in the sense like, no matter what situation we’re always on it, but it’s like ‘Man we could either stay or we could tough it out and drive real slow and be real careful and do what we need to do. Most likely we’ll do that. Like our trailer lights were out for a little while, a wiring problem. We got pulled over and we had to wait until morning. So we were thinking we should just spend the night and take the night off and get it fixed. [Then] we’re like nah, we’ll figure something out. You have to have running lights on your trailers to let people know you’re there. And our van like I said (before the interview) had caught on fire because all the electrical wires were real messed up. So we got these tap lights and duct taped them on to the [back] and spray painted them red. So they looked like running lights. So we actually made it out OK and got to the show. We don’t want kids to be bummed out. There’s been a couple times where we’ve missed shows but we try our hardest to really do it. It usually turns out being like, ‘Wow, we’re so thankful and happy we did this instead of being like nah forget about it we’ll just go home.’
What are some of the hardest things about being on the road?
Um, (pause) I would say space. We have 8 people in the van, the 6 in the band and the a tour manager and a technician. It’s just sometimes you’re like, uh, do I have to sleep on the floor tonight or do I get a nice cushion or a the bed or do I have to sleep in the drivers seat, ya know? (Cell phone goes off) Sorry, I have an alarm set to brush my teeth. (laughs)
(laughs) Why do you brush your teeth in the middle of the day? (laughs, It’s approximately 6pm)
Well, because you see all these other interviews and pictures with musicians and they’ll be like talking to them and they kind of have yellow teeth because they’ve been touring for so long. And when I saw that I was like ‘man if I can brush my teeth like 3 times a day and set an alarm, like I’ll be like gold ya know, so (laughs). Yeah I have a little alarm on my phone to wake me up to brush my teeth. My band hates it because sometimes I won’t be there when my phones there and it goes on for like 9 minutes. (Jess laughs) That’s probably one of the hardest things on tour for them. But ah, no, it’s ah, I think a really hard thing is you’re constantly next to each other. It’s hard to breathe and get alone time. I believe in balance and a proper balance of things is always good. Too much of anything or too [little] of anything is leaving you out of the loop and leaving your mind kinda closed. I think in order to open the mind, instead of hanging out with the band I’ll take a walk. Really, well rarely I’ve kinda gotten use to it and kinda like it but going on a walk or getting on the phone and talk to someone from home. Kinda hang out by yourself or pray or do whatever. Some people will get in the van and listen to music and just hang out by themselves. Everyone just needs their time ya know? It gets tough because sometime you just want to freak out because you’re on this 12 hour drive and someone’s playing the wrong music at the wrong time (Jess laughs). And you’re just like “uuuggghhh”.
So that’s hard. And equipment failures and technical difficulties are kinda hard. When someone in the band is not always working as hard, sometimes you gotta give him a nudge on the shoulder or a slap on the back of the head (laughs) and be like ‘come on man we gotta pick it up’ ya know? That’s probably a pretty G-rated way to say it. But this is also a business as much as it is a really good friendship. Sometimes you gotta be like ‘Come on man. The harder we work the more things we can accomplish’. If we can use both of those, working hard and having fun, together things get done, so. Overall we have a lot of fun. Anything in a job or something you do with your friends you’re going to have rough spots, you just gotta get past them. We’ll punch each other on the shoulder and then be like you wanna go get a coke? Ya know? It’s all good.
For you how do you maintain your faith while your on the road and away from home and away from church?
Usually on the road it’s pretty hard. I have a cool thing it’s like a prayer book. It’s like this little book [where] when I met people on tour I’ll write their names down and pray for them and put a little [blurb] next to it. I try and meet people. I have a blog about it too on Myspace and some people will be like ‘Hey can you pray for my grandma’ and I’ll pray for them. And when we come to their town they’ll [talk to me and] say ‘yeah thank you’. It really just kind of rejuvenates me. I just feel really blessed to help someone out.
Other times I’ll call my grandma. She’s filled with wisdom and knowledge in the way of life and the way to live, like life through God and the Lord. Calling my dad and my mom as well. They’re both really big support[ers for me]. Joshua, our guitarist, he’s also really big on [his] faith too. So sometimes we’ll have a real good talk and it’s real awesome. And when I go home I went to a church on Wednesday, they have like a Wednesday service. Sometimes I’ll go to church when I’m home and just get rejuvenated. Just kinda depends on [where I am].
It does get kinda hard because you get so caught up in culture and the way things are running. Being in a band sometimes there’s like temptations and different things, but it just depends on how you react to it. A lot of people would probably look down on drinking, I’m not gonna sit here and be like “oh I don’t drink” ya know? I drink and smoke cigarettes but like the thing is um.. when I drink I always drink to celebrate and have fun and to kinda of counter balance different things in my life, to let loose and not be completely chained down in my life. I feel like this world is meant to be enjoyed and have fun, but to also find our purpose and something meaningful. It can help you balance the way you live your life. Personally for me, that’s how I feel about it. I just kinda balance myself out. Take the good with the bad ya know? Just kinda roll with it. For me I’ve found a nice comfortable way to live.
Is there anything you’d like to add or would like to plug for WCAR?
Your album just came out in November right?
Yeah it came out November 3rd (2009) and it’s been doing really well. The feedback has been unreal. We just signed to a European label called Redfield Records. There should be a video about that coming out soon. I don’t know if I should be saying all that. I’m sure it will be fine. We’ll be having a European release. Everything’s just been going real well on these tours. The kids have been coming out and it’s been really amazing.
Oh and Also I’d like to clear one thing up. A lot of people have been saying that there was auto-tune on the CD. And ah, actually, we were in the studio, Kyle sat down, we did the vocals. We were in the studio for a month and a half, or a month and like a week or something like that. And Kyle recorded every single part without auto-tune except for on “Roads [That Don’t End and Views That Never Cease]” we wanted to purposefully put an auto-tune part. A lot of people are like “You guys are auto-tuned!” And not everyone knows exactly how it goes down [in the studio]. It’s not that we’re so [head] strong that we want people think it was all Kyle, but some people don’t exactly know and they just kind of assume and that’s ok. I do the same thing. But Kyle did record all those parts and put those different parts together and combinations. So for people out there thinking that it’s not.
And also I just wanted to say if anyone wants to come out and hang out with us, please feel free to. We love talking to people. We love hanging out. We love that they come out and support us. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. They’ve helped create what we’ve imagined. Without them nothing is really possible. Just wanted to say thank you to them. That’s about it really
Anything we can be praying about for you or the band?
Ah, just keep us safe on the road, keep us healthy. That would be a really awesome thing to [have prayers for]. Pray that we can reach out to as many kids through an act of love or just keeping kids in something [that makes them feel alive]. I feel like music for me it makes me feel real alive. When I went to church a couple days ago, it was cool. Like, it was almost kinda like he preacher segregated my life into three things that I live by and didn’t even realize it until a couple days ago. But he said, ah, that God asks of you to love Him, and He love you, and love your neighbor as [yourself]. And define everything in this life [by what] makes you feel alive and passion and filled with love. To actually seek it, find out God and with God in the kingdom of heaven… I just really want kids to come out and really feel alive and be filled with something that they can’t really describe or put their finger on, but makes them have this feeling that they can’t get enough of and want to pursue it. Like plant a seed in someone’s head, like the name of our album, To Plant a Seed. To have that feeling of being alive to grow into something that they could never have imagined being apart of their life become a part of their life. I definitely encourage anyone to go out and find what that is, whether it’s in music or poetry or like math. Find whatever it is that makes you feel alive and do it. Even if you’re jumping in the swimming pool, you don’t know why, just splashing around (laughs) without a care in the world. If that makes you feel alive then go for it, ya know?
Cool. Thank you!
Yeah no problem!