Crown The Empire: Rock and Rage on the Sunset Strip
Crown The Empire may be a band in transition after a few major member defections – but this did not stop their headlining tour from raging into the wilds of the Sunset Strip for a sold out show at the world famous Roxy Theater. On their second to last headlining show here in the States promoting their supersonic Retrograde magnum opus, the four remaining Crown The Empire members presented a triumphant performance of a lifetime! Prior to their exhilarating set, we caught up a rather reflective Andy Leo backstage for a short yet all-encompassing interview. The charismatic Crown The Empire front man discusses a band in the state of transition, well aware of the adversities of the not so distant past and looking onward to even greater future glories ahead. Read on for our exclusive interview with the one and only Andy Leo of Crown The Empire…
How is this current headlining tour been going? What are some of the highlights?
It’s been great. It’s been surprisingly short and sweet, as far as touring goes. Around touring with Warped Tour, everyone’s kind of combating. It’s hard to compete over the summer gigs, but it’s been great. Having I See Stars out has been awesome. Also Palaye Royale and Out Came The Wolves. It’s very rare that you get to tour with a full package of bands that you’re actually are friends with everybody. And so it makes things run smoother and it’s honestly gone by so fast. I’m a little bummed it’s coming to an end, but the whole thing’s been kick ass. Everybody’s been amazing.
How close is Crown The Empire to writing and recording new material?
That’s the next big thing we have to do. We have this tour, the rest of the month, and then two weeks in Australia in September. Then the whole rest of the year we’re just devoting to doing new music. And yeah, ideas are coming together, but it’s just always a big moment. Especially right now the way bands are going right now. The way rock needs to be pushed, it’s always scary. It feels like everybody’s in free fall right now and we’re seeing who’s going to land on their feet and who’s going to just fucking splatter everywhere.
I interviewed you several months prior to the creation of Retrograde , you guys were nervous about what you were going to do. How do you feel this time around?
You know what, I figured I would get better at it, but the same anxiousness to get, the apprehension, to see how everybody’s going to receive it is just a scary thing nowadays. A group thing on the internet could sink a new song for a band. I just saw online, it was super bizarre, if somebody starts hating on it, and the majority starts hating on it, it’s just this avalanche of like-minded just saying – people who wouldn’t say shit would say shit just to be a part of it. It’s a really weird mentality and it really will make or break a band. So, the nervousness is always going to be there, but obviously I’m very excited because this is the shit I live for.
How easy or difficult has it been for you to adjust being the only vocalist now?
It’s been tremendously, you know, simpler. Simpler than I thought. Just because early on, you know, we did, I did, all the vocals. I didn’t have any technique or experience doing it, so I was just shredding my shit. So being kind of forced back into the role and being challenged with something that, a few years ago, I was really nervous about doing and then coming and being able to do it and having Hayden back me up up there and back me up as far as harmonies. I’m able to kind of do everything and it’s really awesome. It’s really fun to, you know, not have to switch brains, switch modes, and just kind of play the songs. It’s great.
Do you feel there’s a sense of drama with David being let go from the band?
I don’t know. For me, it’s hard to talk about because it’s so – you want to talk about it in a way that’s politically correct. Like, as a business way, you want to be mature about something and not let personal shit get in the way of it. But, at the same time, when you’re in a band with somebody every part of it is integrated, you’re intertwined in every possible way. So, that’s why the personal shit 100% matters and the drama that was involved, everybody has grievances to air out, but I think the initial reaction was always going to be a shock for people and people will decide right there and then whether or not they still want to listen to your band. That was obviously a big turning point because we have a long history of that, of him in the band. But no, I don’t see it. People who came out on this tour, came out on this tour and still enjoyed the shows. You know, it’s really kind of cleared, I don’t know. I don’t want to say “segregated the fans,” but definitely cut out the people that, you know, if screaming a specific way was all you wanted, then you can listen to the other stuff or find it somewhere else, but this is what we have to do and this is who we are. I don’t see it being really bad on this tour, but I definitely remember the initial wave of – the avalanche of comments and whatever. I try not to do it, I try not to read that any more, but it’s hard.
When you do read those comments, how do you deal with it?
It’s hard to say. Nobody knows the actual story. Nobody knows how much shit – you know? Everyone has their perception of what happens behind the scenes. When in reality, it’s tough stuff to actually talk about. You want to show everybody what actually happened. You want to show everyone the way things went down, but, you can’t. As long as there’s mystery and uncertainty, people are going to assume and talk shit about whatever aspect of what they think. People will say outlandish shit, like I don’t know. It’s an illuminati conspiracy or some shit. People will find the ridiculous shit to explain anything that they’re not fully satisfied with. That’s always a hard thing to deal with.
Do you know if My Chemical Romance has heard or commented on your cover of Welcome to the Black Parade?
NO, fuck! And I don’t expect them to either. If you get offered to do a cover of something so huge, you leave an open door for people to just shit all over it. We knew there was no way we’d be able to recreate this anywhere near the caliber of excellence that the song just is, but why wouldn’t I take that opportunity to do it? I don’t think they’ve said anything and I don’t think they will. No regrets, it was still cool to do it.
What do you think has kept you so passionate about Crown The Empire since 2010?
We had our seven year anniversary, crazy. For me it’s the only thing I know and it’s – because it’s the only thing I’ve identified with, as a human. I didn’t do chess club or anything else growing up, starting out at 16 years old. It’s the only thing I know. It’s so, connected to my personality that I don’t know what I am without it. That’s a very weird thing. It was something that was very daunting when shit was hitting the fan with things that we had to consider. Is this? Oh no, this is totally my shit. This has always been my shit. I’ve always been here for this and I will – until this thing burns down into fucking flames, I will be a part of Crown The Empire.
Where do you hope the music of Crown The Empire goes for the next album?
I think we learned a lot, doing the last one, as far as everything involving music goes, like actually writing songs. I think we kind of lost track of what our fans really found special initially and to kind of change the essence of that is changing the band completely. We couldn’t do that, we’d destroy what Crown The Empire was. So, we kind of took a step in the direction of creativity with Retrograde. We came out of it learning like, figuring out what our guitar tones sound like this song. Everything that would – the buildings of a legacy as far as a band goes was from that. In the future we can take everything that was dope about it and make it – combine it with the shit that people found special. That’s the move.
Do you have any messages for Crown The Empire fans who are reading this right now?
I love you guys. Hopefully this doesn’t sound dumb today. I love you guys to death and keep listening. If you’re still around, thanks for sticking around. Anybody who’s hopping on, you hopped on at a good time. Things are changing. There’s a storm a brewin’…
Crown The Empire is:
Andy Leo: Vocals
Brandon Hoover: Guitar
Hayden Tree: Bass
Brent Taddie: Drums
(Review and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photo by Jack Lue)
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Crown The Empire Live Photos by Jack Lue here