Crown The Empire has been on a journey into the stratosphere of success ever since the release of The Fallout – their debut for Rise Records. The music is dramatic and sweeping, performed by a charismatic bunch of guys who remain tremendously down to earth. We caught up with a few of the members right before the final show of the Take Action Tour in Los Angeles. So join us in the Crown The Empire van as we discuss life on the road, a runaway trailer incident, the possible return of Johnny Ringo, and many other adventurous topics. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Crown The Empire, and what’s the most embarrassing song you have on your IPOD.
Andy: My name is Andrew. I sing. And I have a Taylor Swift song that came out a couple of years ago that’s really catchy. I don’t remember which song it is, but it’s awesome! “She wears shorts skirts, I wear…” You know that? That song! That was awesome!
Ben: I’m Ben, I play guitar in Crown The Empire, and I actually also have a Taylor Swift song. I’ve got Trouble on here!
Andy: Yeah, we jam!
How has the Take Action Tour been going so far and what have been some of the highlights? I guess this is the final night…
Andy: Yeah, it’s the last night of the tour. The whole tour has been incredible! There’s too many highlights! It’s the longest we’ve been out so far, but there’s so many incredible things!
Ben: Just touring with The Used was the highlight for us!
Were you guys fans of The Used prior to the tour?
Andy: Oh yeah, definitely!
Ben: Direct influence to our album actually.
Tell me about the charity being sponsored by the event, The It Gets Better Project, and what’s your involvement with it?
Andy: We didn’t have any involvement prior to the tour, but once we got the offer, we kind of looked into it. It’s an anti-bullying thing mostly for lesbian, gay, bisexual teenagers – it’s about bullying in general as well. It’s great to be a part of something good that’s beneficial for people.
Ben: That’s something we’ve always been adamant about as a band – letting kids just do their own thing and not judge other people.
Andy: Yeah, to be part of it is sick, and the fact that it’s an awesome tour is even better!
Has there been any strange or scary happenings either on the road or at a show?
Andy: So many! So many! One of them was our trailer fell off on a highway as we were driving, and that was terrifying because we just turned around and it’s not there. But luckily it went into a ditch – it took out a sign – didn’t hit anybody – and all of our gear was okay. So we got to bounce back from that pretty quickly and then play the next show the next day – so that was awesome. But that’s the most terrifying thing that has happened to me in my life.
Did you wind up missing a show?
Andy: Yeah, we ended up missing a show that night, which sucks. The guy that towed our trailer actually had one for himself, and we just kind of traded. So we got back on the road immediately. So he repaired it and kept our old one and gave us a new one.
That ended well! Now is there any story behind the first and last song on the album, Oh Catastrophe and Johnny’s Revenge?
Andy: No, they are two of the most theatrical songs, so I could see why people would think that they are connected, but no. On the last album, Johnny Ringo, which is the prequel to that song, was just a song completely different than all of the others – just out of the blue in there that was kind of fun. And we just wanted to continue the story onto the second one. So the first Johnny Ringo to Johnny’s Revenge is connected, but no, Oh Catastrophe isn’t.
Do you think we’ll see Johnny back for another song?
Ben: We haven’t decided yet.
Andy: No, we haven’t decided yet, but it’s definitely something I’d like to explore – the same kind of storyline – the same kind of feel – the circus – the cabaret kind of gig. We’ll see about Johnny…
There’s definitely a theatrical feel to it – and to your music in general. Is anybody in your band into theater or acting?
Andy: None of us were even in acting. We just love big theatrical feelings to the music. Just big choruses – big, crazy instruments. There’s an accordion in there that was pretty fun. Smashing pianos – we have samples of that. I don’t know – we’re just all about that kind of stuff.
We won’t see one of you in Phantom Of The Opera next year?
Andy and Ben: (Much laugher) Yeah!
What do you think the next Crown The Empire album will be like? Have you even thought about it?
Andy: It’s hard to say. We’ve started writing.
Ben: We’ve already starting writing for it. It’s going to be interesting to see what direct we go. With this record, The Fallout was so different from everything else. This next record, we could go in any direction. It’s going to be a mystery, I guess.
What’s the first thing you guys are going to do when you get home from the Take Action Tour?
Andy: Oh, a shower sounds great! It’s been a few days out on the road. I just kind of stopped caring, because it’s impossible to shower. Dave does it every night – he someone manages to – Ben does as well – but I just get in the groove and say “Fuck it!” But showering is definitely one thing. Saying hello to my family – they haven’t seen me in a couple of months so I’ll probably do that too.
When you look back on your first EP Limitless, what do you think of it now? If it was playing here in the van right now, what would you think of it?
Andy: It was a big part of us coming together as a band, because we had no clue what we were going to sound like at first. We kind of pieced it together over the course of nine months or something like that. We were still adding members throughout it too, so we had different members with everybody. I mean, I like it – I haven’t listened to it in forever – but it’s cool to see how we’ve matured since then. It’s fun to look back at.
Use one word to describe each of the other bands on this tour. Let’s start with We Came As Romans…
Ben: Goofy. They’re really fun!
Andy: Bros! We bro down with those guys for sure!
Andy: Brazilian! I would describe them as Brazilian!
Ben: Brazilian is the best way to describe them, yeah!
Andy: They’re awesome guys and it’s been really great touring with them.
Yeah, I saw those guys when they opened for U.F.O. out here a few months ago.
Andy: No way! That’s so awesome!
And they’re the odd band out on the tour.
Andy: It’s different, but they’re really excited and they’ve been killing it every night.
And then of course The Used. One word.
Andy: Man, I would want to say rock and roll. But it’s too many. I would just describe them as rock and roll, because they do their thing every night and they don’t give a shit what anyone says. They just go out there and kill it.
Ben: RockNRoll! Just put an N in the middle and smash it together.
Andy: RockNRoll as one word!
What advice would you give a new band about to attempt to go on tour for the very first time?
Andy: Organization is important. Know where all your shit is all the time, because you’re going to lose everything on your first tour. Just taking care of organization off the bat is going to be super essential for your gear and for so many things.
Ben: The number one thing for the entire touring in general is patience. Everyone, yourself could learn things.
Andy: We’re still pretty new to touring. We’ve only been touring for eight months now. We’re still learning every day – things we could do better – things that would make things run better. And just patience definitely.
How surprised are you that Crown The Empire has gotten so big so quickly? A lot of the bands on Rise don’t find themselves gaining so many fans so quickly.
Andy: There’s always room to grow. We’re not one to stop at all. But to get at this point this fast is unreal for us. It’s really really great!
Ben: It exceeded all of our expectations. We’re doing things that we’ve dreamed about – things that we wanted to do – even just pipe dream stuff – and it’s all coming true so it’s just been crazy for all of us. Just experience things that we’ve always wanted to that we’ve worked really hard for.
Andy: To set goals and for them to actually be feasible – that’s just awesome.
Ben: Just being here is unreal.
Is this your first time playing in Los Angeles?
Andy: Yeah! First time here ever.
What’s up next for you guys after this tour is over, which is like tonight…
Andy: We’ll be at the South By Southwest festival – we’ll be in Texas for about a week. And then we’ll have the Rise Records Tour with a lot of good friends –it’s going to be awesome! We’ll be hitting a lot of college towns – a lot of different markets that we don’t normally hit. And then touring, touring, touring – all summer, all fall, all the time – the rest of the year.
So do you have any messages for your fans out here in the Los Angeles area?
Andy: Los Angeles! Hopefully it’ll be a fun time tonight. Come out and see us. We love you guys.
Ben: I’m about to come live with one of you. I love this place!
Andy: The weather here is unreal! Fuck you for being lucky and living here – that’s so sweet! It’s beautiful here!
Editor’s Note: Since this interview, Crown The Empire was announced to be on the entire Vans Warped Tour this summer!
Crown The Empire is:
Andy Leo: Vocals
David Escamilla: Vocals
Brandon Hoover: Guitar
Ben V: Lead Guitar
Hayden Tree: Bass
Brent Taddie: Drums
(Interview and Live Photo by: Kenneth Morton)
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