The Word Alive is spending another hot and heavy summer on the Vans Warped Tour, this time with a dynamic new album to promote entitled Real. Now available from Fearless Records, Real. is a passionate effort showing each and every member at the very height of their artistry. The band is especially intense live, as concert goers all across North America are witnessing. We caught up with The Word Alive frontman Telle Smith at the San Diego edition of Warped Tour just prior to their set, where we discuss the concept of Real., a few of the song lyrics, musicians as role models. and what he thought about playing directly opposite Linkin Park at the Warped Ventura date. Read on as we keep it very real with the one and only Telle Smith…
We’re here with Telle from The World Alive. How has Warped Tour been going for you so far? What have been some of the highlights?
It’s been great. I think its, unless your bus breaks down or you get super sick, I think its hard to have a bad time on Warped Tour. It’s a great, fun tour. The highlights have been Dallas, that was great. It was the first really great show of the tour. Then Arizona was our hometown show for the band that was absolutely amazing. Then Pomona, probably was my favorite show so far. It was a special day. I think certain shows, cities you really connect with. With everyone. When you can connect with a group of a few thousand people then it just makes you feel like you’re on top of the world.
What is it you’d like fans to know about the title Real?
I don’t want people to take it the wrong way. I think certainly people could look at it and be like, ‘oh, that’s kind of egotistical’ but I think as fans of music people should want something genuine from bands and artists. That’s what this album is, its genuine. It’s a collection of songs, it’s our art, love and passion. I think it’s hard to not feel that and hear it coming through in the music and vocals. Its just a really honest and open record and we felt the title was fitting.
What or where is 94th Street?
94th Street is the street that our band in its current formation first met up. It’s where Luke came in and we tried him out. It was actually one of our first times we had ever practiced at that new studio. It’s kind of like the place where the band, as everyone knows it today bonded and we were all like, yeah, this is The Word Alive. We’ve been practicing there ever since. So a little over two years now. We wanted a song that was for us. Just the title that was just for us. That’s what it is.
Was “Never Forget” a hard song to compose?
It was. Zack wrote almost all of it, him and Daniel wrote that song and when I heard it, it was – I had already started writing some – not necessarily journal, but lyrics down. Especially if I’m feeling something. When Mitch (Lucker) passed away, I wrote down a handful of notes and things that I was thinking and feeling at the time. When that happened, I wasn’t thinking “oh man, I need to write a song about this.” But when I heard the music for some reason it reminded me of Mitch. It kind of reminded me of the spirit of Suicide Silence as a band and friends of ours. It’s very upbeat, it’s a faster song and to me its just fun but deep and meaningful at the same time. So when I listened to it, I instantly associated it with some of the thoughts and memories I had of Mitch and the rest of the guys in Suicide Silence. I started writing to it and it took me the longest to write because I wanted to word everything the most respectful way. I didnt want to reach too far and make it too individual based because I think as hard as it is to lose him there’s a lot of fans who’ve lost their best friends and loved ones. I understand more now than I have even in the past for our records that if I’m in this position and I have this voice that I get to speak these words, I would rather them be something that can help someone than be a detriment. That’s what it ended up being, a thank-you to him. A remembrance of him but also a universal song for anyone that’s lost someone that meant a lot to them. Or someone influential that other people, even if you didn’t know Mitch, you know the impact he had on a lot of people and a lot of bands. And the impact Suicide Silence had and still will have moving forward. It’s a tribute to him and to all people that leave something important behind.
As an artist, is it important for musicians to be positive role models for their fans?
I think it should be, but I don’t think it always is. It’s another thing, some bands, they only want to make money. That’s their only reason for being a band. Or maybe not being a band but being the band that they are. I think some people take routes where it’s very obvious. For every one of those bands there’s ten bands that are doing something positive. I think negative press always gets more press it seems. I know that my family reads the things about our band and about me. I represent my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers. So for me, it’s very important to be that way. But it’s not always beneficial to be that way from a financial or business standpoint, it’s just the way the world is I suppose.
What did you think about Linkin Park playing in Ventura? How did it affect The Word Alive?
We went on at 5:10 and they went on at 5:25 so we got a few songs in. We started out with a really big crowd and then three songs in, there was definitely a group of people that went to watch Linkin Park, admittedly had I been one of those kids I would have left to go see Linkin Park. So I don’t fault anyone, judge anyone. I love Linkin Park. Chester, as many people know, is a big influence on me and I love his voice, I love that band. It was cool because it’s like the circle of life. I talk to fans, I had a little impromptu speech that was like, there’s fans who are there now that are going to be on the stage that I was on that day. Hopefully on that day when they are, I’m on that stage and theyre speaking to their new fans saying “The Word Alive is a part of why I’m on this stage.” It’s just the circle of life. I just had a real peaceful moment on stage where I felt a part of something bigger than my band and that’s the circle of life, the circle of music. I’m not saying that we will go down as another Linkin Park, but hopefully The Word Alive can be something that influences people to start singing and pick up instruments and be on the Vans Warped Tour one day.
What is the secret to maintaining a healthy relationship with someone while being on the road all the time?
It is a challenge. I dont know that it ever will be 100% perfect. You just have to have two people that want it. That goes for most relationships, friendships, business relationships. The two people or multiple people involved have to want it to work. It’s not like Hollywood. You have to try in a relationship, it’s not like you find someone and it’s perfect all the time and you don’t have to work for it. People change and grow and especially when you’re gone a lot, it’s easy to potentially grow apart or not understand changes in a relationship. I think being open minded and understanding and willing to try to go above and beyond to let that other person know that you care about them and that they’re part of your life and day, even if you’re 10,000 miles away. That’s what’s really important.
What’s up next for you guys after Warped Tour?
After Warped we’re going to announce one headlining show in the US and then we have a UK and small run in mainland Europe dates that we’re headlining. We’re bringing out The Color Morale and Like Moths to Flames. Then we have a tour in the US, maybe even a little bit of Canada for November and December, but due to being on Warped Tour, we can’t really say what it is yet. But I’m really excited about it and it will be an opportunity for The Word Alive fans of every era to come out and enjoy. Hopefully people will be paying attention.
Do you have any messages for your fans who may be reading this right now?
Thank you for every person who has purchased our new album, who has shared a link to their friends so they could listen to it on YouTube. Spreading music now a days, whether you’re buying it or telling your friends about it is so important. We understand that not everyone can go and buy every favorite record that comes out. But we appreciate the fans who understand that and try to help in other ways like spreading our music and videos. We wouldn’t be here without you guys.
(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)
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