As the Vans Warped Tour 2011 was approaching its final week traveling through scorching temperatures all across the nation, San Diego finally offered some classic Southern Californian weather. One of the bands on the entire tour this year was The Word Alive, who were playing to large and enthusiastic crowds on the Advent Stage. We had the opportunity to catch with lead vocalist “Telle” Tyler Smith to find out more about surviving the wilds of Warped Tour, the new songs from the Deceiver Deluxe Edition, word on their next magnum opus, a solo project in the works for Telle, and many other topics. Read on as we receive a report from Telle at Warped Tour San Diego!
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in The Word Alive, and what’s the most embarrassing song you have on your IPOD?
I’m Telle, I’m the vocalist for The Word Alive, and probably the most embarrassing song might be Katy Perry’s ET. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine.
What do you know this time around that you didn’t know the first time you went out on Warped Tour?
Just better ways of taking care of yourself. For me as a vocalist and how long and strenuous the tour is – it’s easy to get bogged down physically – or even mentally just from being at it every single day. So I came in with a more carefree attitude this year, knowing that everyday I’m going to do my best. And that as long as I took care of my body, I was going to have a good show. And that’s been the case this whole tour. Just the experience of knowing that it’s going to be hot everyday – knowing that you’re gonna need to keep drinking water. I’ve got a water bottle in my hand and I have that everyday with me and I try and stay hydrated. And I didn’t do that last year. I just kind of “winged it” I guess you could say – and that didn’t work out as well. I got sick and everything.
Nick Urlacher recently departed from the band. Do you still keep in touch with him?
Yeah, we just talked the other day. We just had an off day yesterday in Arizona and we were going to try and hang out. He just enlisted in classes. He’s going back to college and he’s doing a bunch of music theory stuff. He was our bass player, but now he’s doing music theory and playing a lot of almost 70’s rock style guitar. That’s like his passion – more like that style anyways. He’s getting to do more things what he truly loves. He wanted to be in the band because we’re all his best friends, but at the end of the day it really wasn’t what he wanted to be doing personally. I think he tried to force it as long as he could, and he just came to the realization that he wasn’t getting any younger and he had things that he wanted to accomplish. So he’s doing that, and we’re all really happy for him.
Who is the newest member of the band and how did he become involved?
Daniel (Shapiro), who replaced Nick – at first he was going to be our fill in bass player. But we were booked up so solid that he just kept needing to come out – because we really didn’t have time to try a bunch of people out. Before we knew it, we were really close with him and he had done a great job from day one. He’s really dedicated to learning more and more about what he does. He adds in his own style to the things we do. He’s also got a really good singing voice which is something we’re going to be looking for on the next record as we try and progress and try new things. So he fit both personality wise and musically – so it just became at some point a no brainer and we were like, “Dude, you’ve been with us for like six months. How about you just join the band?” And he was like, “I’d love to.”
Has Kanye West heard your cover of Heartless, and if so, has he commented on it?
I don’t know if he has yet. I think our publicist is supposed to be trying to figure that it. I know he knew that we were going to do it – and he gave us the okay to do it – but I don’t know if he’s physically heard the final version yet. I hope he has! He definitely hasn’t said he doesn’t like it, so fingers crossed that he did.
Now Ozzy comes up to you and says, ”I’d like to speak with you about your Over The Mountain cover.” What do you do?
I’d be, uh, probably pretty nervous. I’d be like, “Hey, that song – X-Games came calling and said ‘we want you to do that song.’” And I’d be like, “We weren’t going to say no to X-Games. We did our best to do you and the rest of the guys justice.” And hopefully he’d be like, “I actually like it.”
Tell me about the new tracks on the Deceiver Deluxe edition – Lights And Stones and Apologician.
Those are some songs we had been kind of demoing out. We continuously like to write. And Tony had written Lights And Stones – me and him wrote that one within a short period of time on one of our past tours. And when it came time and they were like, “Do you have any new songs?” And we were like, “Actually we do!” And they were like, “Could you write one more?” And that Zack and Tony got together and wrote Apologician. Both songs came together really quickly. With Apologician, we wanted to write a song that would be fun to play for Warped Tour. And with that kind of mindset, that’s how the song came to be. And then Lights And Stones – when I heard the music to it, it really inspired me to write what I thought was an uplifting and inspiration style song – especially lyrically. That’s how I like to write – based off how the song makes me feel and the emotions it brings out in me. That’s what I try to write about and I’m really excited about how they came out. They’re a little bit a look into future Word Alive songs – maybe more so than a couple of the songs off our last album Deceiver that were kind of out there from what we do. They’re a little bit closer to what we’re moving towards.
How close are you to recording an all-new album?
We go in February 7th to March 21st with Joey Sturgis. We’ll be recording at least 12-15 songs. I know that we’re wanting our full length to be 12 songs – and we want to get some bonus tracks so we could package different deals for different countries and things like that. We have three fully instrumental demo songs done. Actually next week with the John Lennon Bus that’s out here, we’re re-recording those and I’m going to add vocals to them. So by the end of Warped Tour, we’ll have three fully finished songs that are in the pre-production stage. We have seven more that are in the process of being recorded and written. And I’ve been writing to those as they come along. I’m real excited about the new album actually. This it the first time that we’ve actually had the time to take time to do pre-production – and the first time we’re ever going to have demos with vocals on them before we go into the studio. And we’re going to be able to send them to Joey and start getting everything tweaked before we ever enter the studio. So I fully anticipate our next album will be by far the best thing we’ve ever done with this band.
Do you have a working title for it yet?
No working title. We have a couple of ideas we’re throwing around for album artwork. And I’m sure that once I write the lyrics to a majority of the songs, we’ll kind of see the shape of the theme of the album and how it could tie in with either artwork. And then once we get to that stage, we’ll start trying to put some names on the drawing board – see what we come up with it.
I saw that you have at least one solo song out there right now. Tell me about that song, and is that something you are going to pursue?
I do want to pursue it. The song is called A Mountain. I was in my old apartment and my roommate at the time had a bunch of recording equipment. He was going on a cruise. I drank some wine and I was like, “I’m in a metal band – that’s what I’ve been doing constantly. But I have a softer side of things I love.” And in my mind, this song is kind of a mixture of acoustic Mayday Parade meets old softer The Used – like a Blue & Yellow type song. And that’s kind of the vibe I wanted. I just recorded all of the piano and guitars – I electronically tracked the cello and violin to it as well. The mix and everything I did myself, so it’s not very good. But at some point when I have some more time, I want to write and record some more songs in that style.
What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get home from Warped Tour?
I think my girlfriend and I are either going to Disneyland or the dog beach in Huntington and just relax. Just do something fun that is really far out there from being on the Warped Tour everyday. I like when I’m off tour to just kind of unwind – especially for the first few weeks and just kind of re-assemilate myself to “quote” normal life again – which I actually enjoy seeing friends and family and things like that. Who knows – she has a really cool job offer in New York through January – so we might actually move to New York for a few months – then we’d do a cross-country drive. Most of my family lives in Ohio so we’ll stop there and maybe have an extended summer vacation. I’m excited about it and we’ll see what happens.
Any messages for The Word Alive fans out here in Southern California?
Definitely! Especially in Southern California; we play at Soma or up through Anaheim and in Pomona. We have such a great following and the shows are always better and better and better. It’s kind of sad, but it almost feels at times more like home here, just because when we first started we did regional stuff – and we only did California and Arizona really. And so I feel like those fans are really connected – they were there from the beginning, and that shows with the concerts we play. Just how many kids are coming out and singing along and how many people are wanting to go crazy. Last year’s San Diego’s Warped Tour – we didn’t get to play the Arizona one, so we dubbed it our “Home Town show of the tour.” And this year, while we got to play Arizona, I feel just as much like today is a hometown show as anything else. And I live in Hollywood, so I’m not too far away from here – so California is home to me anyways. And today is my 25h birthday – so hopefully the show will be extra good today. The weather is perfect! It’s a nice breeze and I love it!
(Interview and Photos by Kenneth Morton – Note: Interview pic from Warped San Diego – live pix from Warped Carson)
The Word Alive on Facebook