If it wasn’t for faith and a strong sense of perseverance combined with a good amount of fan support, Ace Augustine would have folded the cards some time ago. Signed by Strike First Records in 2010, the band unleashed The Absolute and then disappeared from the scene. Even with a reawakening later on, key band members would come and go, and yet Ace Augustine pressed on with their vibrant musical visions. A signing to Red Cord Records would come, and now the Lancaster, PA outfit has delivered a mighty collection of tunes entitled The Sick And Suffering. Heartfelt and devastating, The Sick And Suffering signifies a triumph for Ace Augustine – a brave new beginning where anything is possible. Here is an interview we conducted with founding member Tyler Chadwick to find out more about this dynamic collective and their impassioned music. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Ace Augustine, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Tyler Chadwick and I play guitar and sing in Ace Augustine. I started the band my freshman year of high school in 2008 so we have been together for over 5 years now.
Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there? How has the scene changed since the start of Ace Augustine?
We’re based out of Lancaster , Pennsylvania. When our band started back in 2008, the Lancaster music scene was unrivaled. It was incredible, to say the least. Unfortunately, it has really dropped off over the past few years. I do have some friends from the area that are really trying to bring it back and get kids to come back out to shows which is great! The music style has definitely changed quite a bit as well. Metalcore was the flavor of the month back in 2008 and even for a few years after but has definitely made a transition to more hardcore music. It has made it a little harder for us back home because we aren’t the music of choice though but at the end of the day, we all love heavy music and we couldn’t have a better place to call home than Lancaster.
Is there any story or concept behind the album title The Sick And Suffering?
The title, “The Sick and Suffering” did not come quickly or easily for us. We, as a band, spent about 3 or 4 months going back and forth on what the album should be. The album itself is a much darker release from us musically and lyrically and we wanted the name of the album to really reflect that. There has also been a whole slew of events that have happened in the past year nationally and on a world stage that have just been really dark and I think that definitely played into us naming the album. The Sick and Suffering was actually a name that I came up with and I actually came up with it after the Newtown shooting. A friend of mine lives about a mile away from where that happened so that really hit close to home for me. The name, The Sick and Suffering, in my mind is talking generally about humanity and how messed up we truly are. A lot of the songs on the album talk about being hurt and being brought down by other people as well as reflecting on ourselves and our own imperfections. The Sick and Suffering really describes us all as sick and suffering and that we all need help and we all need hope to get through these dark times.
Select two songs from The Sick And Suffering and what inspired the lyrics.
Most of the lyrics on the album were written by our vocalist, Ryan Feister. I did write the lyrics for a few songs on the album so I’ll talk about those songs. The two songs that I wrote that I’ll discuss are Fools Gold and Day After Day.
Fools Gold is a song that I directly wrote about one of my best friends that I somewhat recently had a falling out with. Most of the lyrics in the song directly talk about experiences I’ve had with that person and I try to use as little metaphors as possible so the words in that song are as direct as I could possibly be. I really didn’t want to sugar coat things so I wrote about what happened from my perspective and gave my own thoughts and feelings on the situation. All of the lyrics in the song are words I wish I could say to this person but haven’t to this point. The first half of the song is definitely darker and judgmental in a way. The best way to describe the first half of the song is to say that the first half is the yelling part of an argument where you point out all the bad stuff and let emotions get the best of you. The second half of the song where my singing comes in is sort of where the mood changes or the part of the argument where you realize that you’re at fault too. The song organically wrote itself honestly and while it may not make sense to a whole lot of people, I do think that people who have gone through losing a best friend will definitely be able to relate to this song.
The song Day After Day is a song that I wrote about the church and many people that I have met going to church. I’ve always had a really negative view of most churches and people from those churches because of past experiences. For instance, I was told in 5th grade by my pastor at the time that I was going to Hell for not filling out a booklet in Sunday School. This song is definitely one of the angriest songs that I’ve ever written. If this song could be summed up in a sentence or so, it is basically me asking a question to these church going people about how they could put their own ego, rules, and judgements in front of someones salvation. My favorite few lines from this song are, “Your mouth can’t see the pain that it’s caused. You disappear behind a book that you leave in bed. You only see the people that you have saved, but the world sees the people you pushed away.” It also is a way of me showing my frustration that Christianity gets judged harshly because of the small amount of Christians that are like this.
How did you wind up signing with Red Cord Records?
It actually happened rather quickly. In mid July of last summer (July 2012), our manager at the time had been sending out some emails to a few labels to see if there was any interest in the band. Less than a month later, we signed a contract with Red Cord and were in Rockford, Illinois recording TSAS. It truly is amazing looking back at how quickly it happened.
Looking back on your previous album The Absolute, what do you think of it now and how does it compare to The Sick And Suffering?
“The Absolute” and “The Sick and Suffering” are completely different albums. I always hate the cliche of this album is much more mature than our previous release but this album is honestly more mature than our last release. The reason this is, is because The Absolute was written over a two year time period and included two songs that were written when I was 15 years old. The album itself was released before I even turned 18 and only 3 songs off that album were written when I was 17 so that album was written when I was very young. When I say that our sound matured, I honestly mean that I physically and mentally grew up since writing our last album. Since writing, “The Absolute“, my songwriting process has changed drastically where now, all of our songs are written through pre production and recording and are much more thought out than before. I think this change in the way I write music made my songwriting a lot better. On TSAS we got heavier while still incorporating singing and melody and including repeating chorus’ which we never did on, “The Absolute“. I think that TSAS was a natural progression for us as a band because our heavy parts got heavier and our melodic parts got more melodic and catchy.
Who did the cover art for The Sick And Suffering and how much input did you have on it?
Our good friend, Adam Serrano from Ink Fiend Images, did the design. I gave him the overall concept of what the album stood for but he came up with the design himself and really knocked it out of the park. He does great artwork so you should definitely check out more of his work, it’s incredible.
Any chance for Ace Augustine making their way to the West Coast to do some shows?
We are really hoping to make it out to the West Coast sooner than later. The farthest west we got on our last tour was Denver, Colorado so we still have a little ways to go but we would love to get out to Cali as soon as possible. I’ve personally been there before and I love it out there so the sooner the better.
Any strange or scary things happen while on tour or at a show?
We played at a bar in Tennessee on our last tour and just had the craziest night. The promoter was spinning knives that were on fire and eating them as well as a stripper pole. It was a super small town so at one point 8 cops showed up to the venue. Someone even ended up breaking their femur at the show. It was super strange and crazy but it is definitely a night that we will never forget.
How do you feel about kids who may like Ace Augustine but may not be Christian?
WE LOVE YOU! Honestly, we love all our fans equally, regardless of what they believe in or don’t believe in. While all of our members are christian and many of our songs include christian themes, we feel that our music can reach so many more people than just christians because at the end of the day, we’re all still human beings and we all still feel the same things and experience the same emotions and go through many of the same things. Our songs are about our lives and we are christians so that is why Christian themes come through in our songs but we try not to limit our songs to just that. We hope that anyone who listens to our music can enjoy it and relate to it on some level.
Do you still keep any touch with any of the ex-Ace Augustine members, and what have they been up to?
Yeah! A few of us still keep in touch with each other from time to time although we don’t see each other as much as we used to. Alex is busy starting a family and has a job and more importantly, a baby girl! Ben also is working a lot and getting married soon as well as taking care of his daughter, Olivia! Doug has been doing a lot musically with his rap career, Dougie Kent. Our original guitarist Brian is going to school for something in the medical field and our original vocalist, Kyle, just graduated college and got a job in the IT field.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing The Sick And Suffering by Ace Augustine for the first time?
I really want them to come away from listening this album with a sense of belonging and hope. While things may be bad right now, maybe even really bad, there are others going through the same things and together, we can get through this. We believe that God can get us all through it but even if you aren’t a christian, you can take away that community and togetherness can get us through this mess.
Throughout all the turmoil since the release of The Absolute, what do you think has kept Ace Augustine going and kept you positive?
If anyone reading this has followed the band from the beginning, or even since The Absolute, they would know how crazy things have been for us. It really has been an interesting and crazy journey to say the least. It sounds cliche but it is the truth, God has gotten us through this. There’s no other way we would still be a band if it weren’t for Him because of all of the adversity and change we have gone through. It really is quite amazing. In addition, the other main thing that has really kept us going has been our fans. When the band broke up, the sole reason we got back together was because of our fans. We honestly might not have gotten back together if it wasn’t for them and their outcry of support for us and their hope that we would get back together, so thank you fans!
Any final words of wisdom?
To our fans:
Thank you so much for sticking with us all this time. Your support means the world to us and is really what keeps us going.
To those who are just finding out about us:
Thank you for reading this far! Please check us out on Facebook, Youtube or spotify and follow us on twitter!
Seriously, everyone should like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter, and pick up our new album, The Sick and Suffering, on iTunes, Amazon, or get a hard copy at Red Cord Records online store. We love you all! Thanks!
Ace Augustine is:
Ryan Feister – Vocals
Tyler Chadwick – Guitar/Vocals
Spencer Barnett – Guitar
Cody Owen – Bass
Josh Hess – Drums
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
Ace Augustine on Facebook