Written By: TIFFANY MITCHELL
Shockwave got the chance to sit down for a few moments before the show and chat with Telle Smith, front man for The Word Alive. I have been a fan of The Word Alive for a few years now, and I have followed their growth as performers. While I take pride in knowing a lot about the band’s successes and struggles, I was honored to be able to get a chance to sit down, one on one with Telle, and talk candidly about touring, the writing process from previous albums to now, and Luke Holland’s (drummer) recent decision to leave the band to pursue other career opportunities.
Shockwave Magazine: I attended the Q&A, and of course everyone asked all the questions I wanted to ask for this interview. So we are just going to sit here for 10 minutes and stare at each other, if that’s okay with you.
Yeah, they were a little shy today. You know it goes up and down. A lot of the ones are very similar from day-to-day, like what’s your favorite song on the album, what do you love about the tour. You know, kind of the basics.
Let’s talk about Dark Matter. From what I understand, it has been your most successful album yet. What do you think is the difference between Dark Matter and your previous albums? What difference do you see in the recording process?
I think the biggest thing you can see is the growth in songwriting. I think the songs are, in our minds, more unique. They sound more like a single band, versus what a casual listener might hear with some older material, and could potentially confuse it with a handful of other bands. I think this album created a little bit more of an identity for The Word Alive to build on, moving forward.
Are you working on anything new?
Well, we put out “Overdose,” our brand new single, right before this tour. We always write in our off time while off tour. I’m sure we’ll start working on stuff. Take for instance, with Dark Matter, we started writing in January, we recorded in the summer, and then the album didn’t come out for over a year from the first time we started writing. If we were to do that same thing, it would mean that Dark Matter wouldn’t be out for over two years. I think we are going to do a shorter cycle than that. I think the days of the two, three, or four-year cycle are gone unless you’re obviously like a legacy band or just really, really big. But for us, we enjoy writing music and then playing new music. I’m sure we will write after this break and see where we are.
After this tour you have a break?
Yeah, we’ll be off for a little over two months.
The song “Overdose,” is that a prelude to a new album or just a single you guys put out?
It’s a standalone single. We’re not going to not put it on the next album, per se, but I think it will really depend on what sound takes shape for that album. If it fits, if it doesn’t, but as of right now, there’s no plans to put it on the album. We’ve never had a problem with writing more material. So I don’t think it’ll be on it, but I love that song a lot. But I also wouldn’t mind it being on the new album, and getting that kind of second bump of exposure with a full album release.
I heard when you guys were recording “Real,” you recorded it all separately, then collectively put it together. Dark Matter wasn’t like that, you guys came together with Dark Matter. Why was the recording process different with “Real“?
Well, everyone was in a weird place, the band was pretty disconnected at the time. There had been a lot of arguing and fighting. You know, normal things that happen when you’re a band. Especially bands that have toured as much as we have, with not a lot of breaks. We knew we wanted to try different things, but everyone kind of wanted to do this, and then other people were like, I want to do this. Instead of coming to a compromise that worked for the overall band, we just compromised with individual people within the band. Some people would write their songs, and be like, well I want this song on the album and others would want another song. We just put all of them on it and there was no real fluid thing. Zach came and recorded his guitar parts, Tony came and recorded his guitar parts and Daniel recorded his bass parts. Luke came and did his drums and then I did vocals. So there were some days where everyone was at the studio, but they were few and far between. It was rare to have more than two or three members there at a time.
And yet it turned out so well though.
There are people who love it, and other people who don’t love it. There are songs on it that I love, and then there are songs that I’m not that fond of. One of my favorite songs is “Collapsing.” There are some things that I really look back on that were awesome. Then there’s stuff that I think that if we were in the same mindset when we recorded Dark Matter, probably half the songs wouldn’t have made the album.
“Lifecycles” was the first song that I ever heard from The Word Alive, and that’s when I became a fan. I always get excited when you play that one.
We definitely, will always play that one.
Yeah, it’s a crowd-pleaser. So what’s ahead for The Word Alive after Luke leaves?
We’re going to go home. We’re going to work out who will either fill in or be the next drummer or whatever that process is going to bring about. We don’t have a set plan, because we’ve got people reaching out to us, whether it’s close friends or people in the industry. There a lot of fans who have reached out too, but for us, at this stage in our career, we probably won’t have someone random coming into our fold. It would be someone who we know or may have toured with. Someone older or closer to our age. And yeah, so there’s that. We’re also going to be announcing some tours, I think later this month or early January.
A lot of international shows. Almost everything booked right now for next year is somewhere other than states.
Are you going to be playing any of the big festivals?
We are going to play some, in different countries though. It’s going to be really fun. Right now we have three tours booked. So some of those tours have some festivals built-in to the routing.
I heard that originally your dream was to play guitar, and you thought you sucked at it.
Yes, compared to a musician at the level that would be required to be where I am today. If I was in the same position, at the level I am now vocally and guitar wise, then it would have been a different story, but I just kept getting pushed into vocals, and then eventually I was like, wow, I actually love this. I’m not bummed. I still play guitar from time to time. I wrote our song “Branded.” I can play, but I can’t play anything overly technical, like a lead guitar player, by any means. I’m very much a rhythm guitar player. So I dabble.
That’s cool. If you weren’t doing this, what do you think you would be doing? If you had to choose any other career besides touring and being in a band, what would you have chosen?
I would still work in music at this point in my life, but I would probably be a booking agent, work for a label, or marketing and company management. I would be doing something along those lines, because at this point in my life, I have gained so much knowledge and experience that I know I could help younger bands. And even bigger bands, to be able to run successful businesses.
Have you ever thought about management or marketing for another bands while still performing in a band?
Yeah, I’ve done some of it. I own a clothing company and a jewelry line. I have the band and I do all the business because we’re self-managed. I do that for the band, and there’s almost no more time right now for me to give.
I can see that. Thank you very much for taking the time to chat with me. I will see you guys inside at the show.
Whether you know who The Word Alive is at this point or not, these guys can turn a non-fan into a die hard follower at the listen of one track. Headlining the hottest tours and playing all over the globe, there is a reason why The Word Alive has such an enormous fan base. They bring pure musical artistry to today’s music scene and there’s no sign of them stopping any time soon.