Understanding We Came As Romans

We Came As Romans spent a productive summer on the Vans Warped Tour, performing for super enthusiastic fans all across the country.  Their new album Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be has just been released on Equal Vision Records.  Now concluding the I’m Alive tour, the band is set to go on the road again, this time supporting Asking Alexandria and Hollywood Undead on the World War III Tour.  At Warped Tour in San Diego, we caught up with one of the WCAR members to find out more about the new album, life on the road, lyrical content, why people think they are a Christian band, Call Of Duty, and other topics.  Let the understanding begin…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in We Came As Romans, and what’s the most embarrassing song on your IPOD.
My name is Joshua, and I play guitar in We Came As Romans. As of now, I don’t have any embarrassing songs on my IPOD. I just got an Iphone yesterday, like last night – so I have yet to put any music on it. But, out of all the music I would put on it, it would probably be some 90’s jams, like Matchbox 20 or Barenaked Ladies – one of those bands my dad listened to when I was growing up, so I naturally listen to as well. But I don’t know – I’m not really embarrassed by that. I actually still kind of like that – so it’s all good.

How has the Warped Tour been going so far and what has been some of the highlights?
It’s been awesome! It’s been long! It’s almost done – I think we have like 5 days left. Some of the highlights – not necessarily a high point – but we’ve had our bus break down three times on this tour. Actually yesterday was an off day, and that whole off day, our tour manager and driver spent finding out how to fix the bus and where to go and all that. Not exactly the relaxing off day that we had hoped for. But this tour has been awesome because we knew a lot of bands coming into it. We had friends everywhere. There wasn’t one night where we had to sit in our bus and go, “Oh, we have nothing to do. This is boring.” There’s always something to do with someone that we knew. We were able to build a lot of our friendships with other bands stronger. It’s so important when you’re on such a long tour to have good relationships with other bands, because you’re gone from home for so long, you need something to keep you going when you’re on the road.

Is there any story or concept to the CD title Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be?
The CD, as a whole, almost all the lyrics were written on the road. And so that has a huge influence. We Came As Romans has stayed on the road for pretty much non-stop. Besides earlier this year, there was little brief period that I was sick and I was home – but besides that part, I’ve been home like 13 days total this year. I don’t get home now till August 20th. So out of nine months, being home for two weeks is rough. But I guess the title is about trying to understand life and find happiness and retain happiness in your life. And so that’s the whole kind of concept behind the CD. Written from We Came As Roman’s standpoint, it’s about finding happiness being gone all the time, and not having that stability a lot of people have with a home life.

Select two songs from the new album and tell me what inspired you to write the lyrics?
I can choose the first and the last song. They’re the two songs that we’ve released so far, and they’re on Itunes right now. The first song is called Mis//Understanding. And it’s about – there’s certain points in your life where you feel like you’ve worked so hard and you’ve put in so much effort, and you’re not seeing anything in return. And it’s not the fact that you b\put in all that work to get rewarded – but when you work for anything, it really sucks when it seems like instead of moving forward, you’re still just moving backwards. And that song is just about different times as a touring musician – for me personally, where I feel like I’ve given just everything to try and make this band work and to try and be a positive influence – and I still see so many thing just going wrong. And that song is just kind of about dealing with that. As a band, we have a really positive message. We’re all human, and sometimes me, the rest of my band mates, anyone – will do not so “positive” things. Being aggravated, a fan could come up to you at the wrong time and you might be a little irritated and they might think, “Oh, that guy is such a jerk!” When in actuality, I don’t think I’m a jerk. You might have caught me at a bad time, and I’m sorry. And I guess that song is just trying to get people to understand its tough – life is tough no matter what kind of life you’re trying to lead – whether you’re a musician on the road or a student in college as most kids at our age are. It’s just, trying to understand life in generally. It’s rough. It’s really rough, especially from the road. I’m 21, so anyone a few years younger or a few years older – it’s a rough patch going from high school to college for most kids – and then going into the real world and having to find a job. I have an older and younger sister, so I get the stories from both worlds of that. And I guess I just want people to relate to knowing that life is far from perfect, and everyone has their bad days – and there’s always going to be things that you don’t understand, but there’s not a reason to give up on it.

And that’s what the last song ties into that with (the title track). For me, it was just about a realization of the band and the life that I’m trying to lead. The first lyric in that song says, “All the lights were too bright to see the spark.” And for me, it’s just being on the road, there’s so many things going on all of the time – it’s really easy to get distracted and get sidetracked from living the life you want to lead and being the person you want to be. And that song is just about realizing that, and really understanding that there’s always going to be those times that pull you down, but at the end of the day you still keep working, and you still gotta stick to what you believe in when it gets tough. So that’s my very lengthy explanation of those two songs.

Who did the awesome cover art for the new CD, and how much input did you guys have on it?
Paul Romano did our first CD as well as this CD. A lot of people have said how similar the figure – the boy – is in it. That wasn’t a mistake – it was on purpose. We try to have the same figure just a little older – a little more mature – just cuz we feel as a band we’ve grown and matured. And I guess that figure kind of represents us with the good and the evil on each side kind of pulling him apart. Andy, our bass player, worked with Paul a lot on it – sending ideas back and forth. I talked to Andy about what I wanted on it, since I was writing the lyrics and kind of directing the CD. I talked to Andy about what I wanted and Andy has a good mind for art and the direction that art needs to go. He’s a very visual person, and it’s awesome that he was able to work with Paul – and that Paul was able to really come up with something that we all loved.

Will that guy on the cover still be around if you are still a band 20 years from now?
Maybe. I don’t know. I’m no fortuneteller. I can’t see into the future, so I guess we’ll just have to see.

Why do so many people think that WCAR is a Christian band?
Probably just because of our positive message. And there are some lyrics of ours that can be taken from a Christian perspective and they make a whole lot of sense. Like me personally, Andy personally – we’re both Christians dudes. There are dudes in the band that aren’t Christian. There are dudes in the band that are very Christian. But we decided as a band that we didn’t want any religion at all to be any aspect of who we are as a band or the message that we have. But naturally, it’s something that influences our lives. It’s hard to not let that bleed through the lyrics. But when people are like, “Oh, this a totally Christian lyrics. I know that Joshua wrote this about God!” I didn’t. I don’t write specific lyrics like that. I try to write it so that everyone can relate to it. You know, whether a kid takes a lyric that we write and is like, “This it totally about my relationship with God and with Jesus and Christianity” – that’s cool! That’s awesome! I’m glad that they can relate that way to it. But for that kid, there’s ten other kids who don’t relate to it that way, and that’s just as cool. That’s just as awesome! We just want kids to be able to relate – whatever level it’s on. There have been kids who are like, “I’m a complete Atheist. I don’t believe in anything. But your lyrics really inspire me.” And that’s awesome too. We don’t have any religious push or any religious agenda with our band at all. I think a lot of people kind of get that mixed up because of the positivity that we try to spread.

When you look back on early earlier work such as the Dreams EP, what do you think of it now?
I kind of laugh a little bit. I mean, personally, I think that as a songwriter – and just as a writer in general – I think I’ve gotten much better at writing. I think just the songs that my band decides to really put all of our hearts into and just really, really try to make the best we can. I think that they’ve gotten much better. That EP was really kind of rushed. We did it in like 5-6 days. We had never been in a real studio before. We have never recorded to a click track. We had never done anything really. It was something else, recording that EP. But looking back on it, it was really good for what it was. But if we ever put out anything like that now, I think I would quit and be really ashamed.

Oh no! (Much laughter)
We were all young. I was 18. There were a few members that were 17. I don’t any of us were even 21 yet. Dave might have been 20, maybe. Dave’s the oldest member of our band, and he might have been 20. And so for the time, it was really good. When I look back on it, I really like it because I can see the progression of our band. And that’s what makes me happier more than anything – knowing that we have progressed and we have moved forward – at least in my opinion. There’s going to be a ton of kids out there that are like, “Oh no, they didn’t progress! They still suck!” That’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but in mine, I’m really, really happy with the way We Came As Romans has progressed.

What do you plan to do the very moment you get home from Warped Tour?
As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’ll probably walk straight to my room – get my Xbox, plug it in and play Call Of Duty. That’s probably what I’ll do. I haven’t played it in so long, and that’s what I do a lot on my off time. Either that, or I’ll probably go to a bar with my dad. Either/or. I love hanging out with my dad – it’s awesome.

Is your dad a musician by any chance?
My dad is actually the reason I started playing guitar. He had an acoustic guitar – he still actually has it. A lot of our songs that I’ll say in interviews that were written on an acoustic guitar were actually written on his acoustic guitar that he still has from like 1979. It’s old – it might not be 79, but it’s really old.

Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the Southern California area?
As a band, California is always the high point of a tour. We love coming out here. It’s always wonderful weather – wonderful shows – so much support – it’s awesome and it gives us a reason to keep coming back out.

We Came As Romans is:
Dave Stephens – Vocals
Kyle Pavone – Vocals/Keys
Joshua Moore – Guitar
Lou Cotton – Guitar
Andy Glass – Bass
Eric Choi – Drums

(Interview and Vans Warped Tour San Diego live photos by Kenneth Morton)

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