On the verge of releasing their first full length album Deceiver, The Word Alive has kept themselves on the road for a good deal of the year. With songs such as Epiphany and Battle Royale leading the way and their superb live shows, The Word Alive is a force to be reckoned with. We caught up with guitarist Zack Hansen at Warped Tour in Pomona to find about more about their new album, much of which was written while on tour. Also discussed was the local music scene in Arizona, Christianity in music, and their friendship with former vocalist Craig Mabbitt. The line of questioning starts now…
Introduce yourself, what you do in The Word Alive, and tell me what’s the most embarrassing song you have on your IPOD.
I’m Zack – I play guitar and do some vocals in The Word Alive – and most embarrassing song on my Ipod? One of my ex-girlfriends put this Tila Tequila song on my Ipod. I was having a party at my house one time, and I just put a play list on – and it came on, and everyone was like, “What the fuck, dude?” But it’s alright.
So did you guys play the entire Warped Tour?
We joined the second half. We started out in Baltimore.
How has it been going and what have been some of the highlights?
It’s been awesome. Honestly, every day you get to this groove. And I love it. Honestly, I am honored to be a part of it. And some of the highlights? Canada was really crazy. And there was a day off in Vegas, which personally was ridiculously crazy as well.
How did you do?
I tripled my money. Honestly, other than that, every day is awesome. Every day is a highlight. We’re playing in front of awesome crowds every day – and being in a band, I couldn’t really ask for anything more.
Have you played in any terrible weather conditions?
Yeah, we played when it was raining a couple of times. It’s not that bad – I don’t really mind it. I just have to put my pedal board by my amp so it doesn’t get all wet. Yeah, raining kind of sucks, especially when its outside and it’s not an amphitheater. We’re on the Glamour Kills stage, so sometimes that’s in the amphitheater and sometimes its not. Like today it’s not. It’s just like a normal stage.
What would you prefer? The heat or the rain?
I would prefer rain. I’m from Arizona so I know all about the heat.
What is the local scene like in Arizona these days?
I grew up in the whole local scene. I was a part of it, I guess you could say. It used to be so good. It used to be like everyone was friends. Some of the bands on Warped Tour right now are some of the friends I grew up with and went to high school with. They were in competing bands I guess you could say. It used to be awesome – it still is awesome! I’ll always have love for the Arizona scene – but I don’t know – it’s definitely not how is used to be – but I guess that’s how everything goes. People change and things change.
Tell me about the first show you played at Chain Reaction and what are your memories of that show?
That was our first show in California as The Word Alive, and it was sold out. We did a ridiculous amount in merch. We weren’t even expecting it. I think we sold out of everything in merch basically. So that was crazy! I remember a lot of the people I met and I try to always at least take like a mental picture. I remember every time I play Chain Reaction – I love Chain Reaction – it’s awesome.
Do you still keep in touch with Craig Mabbitt?
Oh yeah! To the public, it seemed like it ended horribly and it was like some huge argument. As that was going on, we were talking on the phone. We weren’t mad at each other or anything like that. Every time I see Craig, it’s always really good. I’ve known Craig since I was 14 or 15. I’ll never hate him. I started the band with him. It was one of those things where I will always have a respect for him, and hopefully it’s the same for all of us. He was full time in Escape The Fate. We dropped college and were losing our jobs for the band, and we weren’t doing anything. And he was going to be gone for 7-8 months, and well, what were we supposed to do? So we just had to get a new singer. He knew that and we knew that, so it was waiting to happen – and it just happened finally. So it wasn’t anything bad. It seemed bad though. There was like a lot of drama, but whatever. I guess it’s just how you chose to look at it and take things and put yourself into other people’s perspectives.
And how did Telle get into the picture?
Well, I knew him from In Fear And Faith and he did vocals then. I always liked his vocals. He found out we were looking for a singer, and he wasn’t happy in the band he was in. He just kind of quit and tried out and it just all fell into place. It was like it was meant to happen, so that was good.
So you have a new album coming out called Deceiver…
Yeah, August 31st.
Tell me about the title – what made you guys go with Deceiver?
It’s not so much as concept album, but it could be taken as that because a lot of songs are about just being fucked over, honestly. (It’s about) instances in all of our lives that we’ve all had and things that have happened – and just being like a good person and stuff like that. If you’ve seen the artwork – I’m not sure if it really portrays what we were 100 percent going for. It’s not all the way there – at least personally for me and Tony. So we kind of got upset about that – but Deceiver was chosen just because it’s about people being fucked over. It seems to happen more and more to everyone. Who doesn’t get fucked over every now and then? So it’s kind of just songs to listen to about that – at least lyrically. The music –Tony and I really put a lot of time into writing it and making sure it was challenging for us. We wanted to take a step up from our EP Empire. A couple of songs we definitely did that. Hopefully for our second full length, it’s be a step up from Deceiver – that’s what we’re going for. There’s nine new songs and we redid one of our old songs Battle Royale – there’s ten songs. We wrote the whole CD on the road.
How was that?
It was hard. It was really hard. It wasn’t ideal. We wrote the songs after we had been awake and been driving – we’d get to a hotel and write a song – or while we’re warming up, we’d write a song. We wrote a lot of the songs like that – so that was kind of rough – to be honest. That’s honestly the only reason we had nine songs. We could have whipped up a song, but for every song, we put a lot of thought into it. It’s not like we could just write a song and just throw it out there. We didn’t want to do that.
What are you going to do the first thing after you get home from Warped Tour?
Sleep! Absolutely, sleep for days. And just hang out with my friends.
Are there any tours coming up?
Yeah, we’re booked through the rest of the year. We have a Bleeding Through, For Today, After The Burial tour that starts September 3rd and ends in October. And then we have another tour two weeks after that with Miss May I and Confide. And that’s the whole year for us. Then we have a We Came As Romans tour in January.
Have you been out of the country yet?
We’ve been to Canada. We’re possibly going to do some Europe (dates) before this year is over, but that’s being discussed. We’re not 100 percent on that yet.
If you weren’t in The Word Alive today, what do you think you’d be doing with yourself?
I’d be in another band. I love The Word Alive. I’ve just been in it from the beginning and it would be hard to just quit it or get kicked out – it would be a bummer. Music is just something that I have to do. I play guitar constantly. It’s something that I just have to have in my life. So one way or another I’ll make music.
Do you have any projects outside of The Word Alive?
Musically – I guess. I have a couple of things. I don’t really have too many names for them, but I have a bunch of songs saved up – a bunch of styles – not just metal. I like a lot of jazz and a lot of progressive stuff. I have a lot of songs just in case – not even just in case, but because I love writing music.
When I asked Craig at The Word Alive interview we did at Chain, he said you were a Christian band. A lot has changed since then obviously. Do you even consider TWA to be a Christian band?
No, we’re not a Christian band. The Word Alive – it sounds like a Christian name. None of us even knew that, to be honest. And that’s not to say that we’re not Christian and we don’t like have faith in God or whatever you call it or whatever anyone will call it. But I personally feel like that Christianity and religion shouldn’t be preached through music. I’m not trying to tell you what to believe in or tell anyone what to believe in. Whatever people believe in is what you should believe in. I think everyone’s different. When you put religion into music and something that we’re portraying – what happens with people that don’t like Christianity? It’s just one of those things where it’s better I think to just not get into – just not let it mix I guess. That’s my view I guess. Craig always said stuff like that. I know he does have faith in God. A lot of people have asked us that question, and it’s been one of those things where we don’t really know what to say.
Do you have any messages for The Word Alive fans out here in Los Angeles?
Yeah! Go pre-order Deceiver. We put a lot of time and effort into it – and we hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed writing it and enjoy playing it. We have a bunch of tours coming up. We’ll be in LA and California a lot in the next six months, so it’s going to be good. And I love this area. I want to move here some day, and I’m sure I will eventually. This weather – it’s been nice. After you get to see all the States…
And Arizona, how hot it could be!
Oh yeah, and you know. Arizona is not really that bad. It’s hot, but I love Arizona. If I had to move somewhere else, it would definitely be California. But I’m content in Arizona – I’ll definitely rep my state – but California is just the best I’d have to say…
(Interview and Warped Tour photos by Kenneth Morton)
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