war stories interview QandA
War Stories – Interview with Evan (singer)
Me: Hey Evan. How's it going?
Evan: Doing well. Driving in traffic. Besides driving in traffic, other than that I'm good.
Me: Do you want to try for when you're not in traffic?
Evan: Nah. I think I'm going to be in it for a while. So let's get this started.
Me: Okay. Well, let's start with how the band got together.
Evan: How the band got together. Well I can start by saying that Reid and myself met about seven years ago at a resort where we both worked. We worked in a restaurant there. At that point in time, Reid and I were both playing in previous bands and right around that same time we ended up leaving our different bands. I started playing material on my own and then one day at work, I approached Reid with it and gave him a very rough recording of some of the stuff I was doing. He really dug it and from there we met up at his house. He was living at a house in Temecula…it was this shed in the yard. We met up in the shed and jammed and collaborated on some of the stuff. We worked on some of the stuff that I had written at the time, which was very few. From there we just pieced a band together. We rehearsed in the beginning at Cal State San Marco, where Reid was going to the college at the time. He was part of the recording arts program so had access to these rooms to practice in with a piano, a drum set, basically everything we needed. That was where we first started practicing. And after six months of practicing, we cut a demo. And then we created a buzz among the record labels and shortly after the buzz was started we ended up signing with Columbia. Let me know if I'm going too fast. We kind of went to how the band got together to Columbia. Stop me if I get on a tangent.
Me: Okay. Tangents are good.
Evan: (laughs) So yeah, we got on Columbia. Got on national tours. Recorded a record. Before the record was released and halfway through our tour with Kasabian, we got dropped in the middle of that tour. We got a phone call from our management that said Columbia had dropped the band and was not going to put out the record. So, that was that and I informed the guys. And decided that we were going to continue to write music and be a working band. Do it independently. That's what we've been doing ever since. Now we have a record that actually came out on August 19th. Yeah, that brings us up to date.
Me: What did you learn from that experience with Columbia?
Evan: I learned a lot. Not only that had to do with the music industry but in dealing with people in general. You have to be very, very careful of whom you trust and in what hands you place your career. So basically…probably the greatest lesson learned, is that there is a way to do what you want to do and share what you want to share without compromising. That wasn't possible with the major label. There were a ton of people looking over my shoulder in the studio that were saying do this and do that. Working with a big name producer, which was great but at the same time it gave the label piece of mind knowing who was producing the record. We know our songs well enough to where we knew how we wanted them to sound. We had a vision. But there were some hoops that we had to jump through that weren't really necessary. Basically lesson learned was that you don't need to compromise your musical and personal integrity to make a record.
Me: Can you describe your song writing process?
Evan: Yeah. Definitely. It usually starts with just an acoustic guitar. I've been writing a lot just with the acoustic guitar. And then I bring the chord progression, the melody to Reid. He's real great at the additions to the song…any lead guitar parts, any hooks, anything like that. So that's one way is just starting with the acoustic guitar and then I bring it to Reid. Another thing that has been really effectively lately is that Reid has been playing the piano a lot more. So he'll come up with the chord progressions on the piano and bring them to me. When you start to write with the piano, it just has a different feel. So writing with the piano adds different emotions behind the feel of the song. Songwriting always starts between Reid and myself and either a piano or a guitar. We write that way hoping that the song can end on its own with just one instrument. So that if we strip it down to just acoustic, it's still a great song, rather than having to have any production value to it.
Me: Do you have a favorite song from your material? And if so, why is that your favorite?
Evan: Okay. Let's see. I have a favorite song off the record. We'll talk about these, because no one has ever heard the other songs we're writing. There's this track called "What Does God See" on the record that I feel really captures what we do. It really sums up everything we do as a band. And to have that all come together on one song is very rewarding. Because you can never expect that. You like certain songs for certain reasons at a certain time. But I find myself playing "What Would God Do" whether it's in the rehearsal room or at a show and it always feels good to play. Regardless of how shitty or good the sound is, the song always feels good. It also has that through-provoking, epic feel to it, too. It's always subject to change, but for now that's my favorite song that we play.
Me: What are your thoughts on the current music scene? And what do you hope to contribute.
Evan: I hope to contribute honest music. That's all…I mean I can't really get any more detailed because music can be so complex. You can want to say so much and the listener might not get what you're trying to say. So all we can do as a band is write honest, heartfelt music. And hope that it's a breath of fresh air. That's what we try to contribute. My thoughts on the current music scene…to be honest, I think there are a lot of bands who are bands for the wrong reasons. And that's fine…I have a deep respect for anyone that gets up on stage and shares their music, but to go deeper than that I feel that a lot of bands are there to party and not share their art. I think that there's a ton of great bands that do a great job, but on the same hand it's obvious to me when I see a band up there for the wrong reasons. And I could be wrong, but those are my thoughts on it.
Me: What do you consider to be your greatest musical achievement thus far?
Evan: My greatest musical achievement.
Evan: Hmmm. Well, I had a girl write me an e-mail one time and she said that she had lost someone that was very close to her. (Evan: Sorry, I just had to honk at this guy. Shouts "Yo!" into traffic. This guy is backing up into me. Me: Well, he should not do that. Evan: And his reverse lights are on and he's still backing up. But we're at a red light right now. You almost just got me into an accident, Lauren. Me: (laughs) Certainly didn't mean to. Evan: (laughing) Anyway, enough about my car wreck. Although, it would have been super mellow. ) Anyway, this girl wrote me an e-mail and she had just lost someone. No, she didn't just lose someone, but she had just found that her brother was diagnosed with cancer and he was just a kid. And she had a ton of feelings coming from the news that her brother was terminally ill. And she wrote me this page long e-mail saying that she found our current record very therapeutic and that she had used our record as therapy. And she found it to be a great tool to get her through that tragic of a time. So when I hear that the music that we are creating is affecting lives to that degree, to make someone want to keep living….that's the ultimate reward. I could not sell another record in my whole entire life and feel good about what we do. Because we literally helped someone firsthand with a very tragic situation. I would say that is my great musical achievement at this point.
Me: Do you have any regrets as a band?
Evan: Ummm. Let's see. I don't perceive them as regrets, I have some things that I would do differently now that I've learned from the experience with the label and all that stuff. But at the same time I would have never learned if I hadn't gone through it. So as far as regretting anything, no. But, like I said earlier in our conversation, just being very aware of who is guiding your band and to be careful with the people that you trust.
Me: Upcoming projects and tours in the works?
Evan: Upcoming project is basically just continuing War Stories. We are going to do an acoustic EP. Hopefully around Christmas time and the first of the year we'll be working with that. So we're excited about that. And we don't have any tours set in stone. We've been playing a lot locally between San Diego and Los Angeles. It just costs so much damn money to be on the road. SO it's hard for a band in our position to be on the road without any tour support. But that's where I hope to be, so hopefully this record will help put us there.
Me: Well, I hope so, too. Any final comments?
Evan: I don't think so. Unless you're looking for something that I didn't give to you.
Me: Nope. It's been a great conversation. Thank you.Evan: Cool. Thank you.