An Interview With Josh Gilbert of Wovenwar: “Metal Blade Are Like A Second Family To Us”

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Wovenwar Band Promo Photo by Ty Watkins

This October Wovenwar embarked on their first full European tour supporting Swedish metal legends In Flames along with their good friends While She Sleeps. At the final night of their UK tour Jamie caught up with bassist Josh Gilbert backstage at London’s legendary O2 Shepherds Bush Empire (a review of the gig is available here). The tour, the writing process of the new band and various other things were on the topic list so read on to see what Josh had to say for himself….

This is Jamie from Rock Sins and I’m here with Josh from Wovenwar, welcome back to the UK.

Josh: Thanks!

This is the last night of your short time in the UK, how’s it been so far?

Josh: It’s been great! We were in Manchester, then Glasgow last night and now we’re here in London tonight, it’s been awesome. It’s been our first time to play some larger club shows, we played the Barfly in London for fun and it was a week or two after our album came out so it was almost like an album release show. That was amazing, it was a packed house and the floor was shaking! So we have that to remind us and hopefully we can get the crowd to react in the same way tonight.
Jamie: Did Manchester and Glasgow go well?
Josh: Yeah but it’s never the same compared to London. London always has a more electric vibe, especially at a sold out show like tonight. It already feels like a special thing as it’s completely sold out.
Jamie: Well it’s a great bill as it’s the first proper tour here for you guys, In Flames haven’t toured here properly for about six years and While She Sleeps are one of the hot properties in UK metal at the moment.
Josh: Definitely, we’re really honoured to be on this tour as our first official European tour, all we’ve done up until now is the Barfly and four or five festivals. So we’re hugely excited.

How were Reading and Leeds? As they were the main reason you were here in August.

Josh: Awesome! It was cool to be asked to come play Reading and Leeds because they’re festivals that maybe our previous band was a bit too heavy to be asked to play on. It was great to be playing with bands who are our friends like While She Sleeps and Architects but also Arctic Monkeys headlining. We checked out a lot of bands on the main stage and it was quite an experience. It was really something we’d always wanted to do but we’d never had the invite until now.

That touches on something I was going to ask later on, with the new band and the change in the sound do you think it’s opened you up to a wider range of bookings and tours than you maybe could have done previously?

Josh: I think so. It’s one of those things that like it or not, a significant percentage of music listeners are turned off by screaming vocals. It’s not something we planned on when we were writing the music that we wanted to do less screaming vocals it just came out that way with more melody. So I think accidentally we wrote something that perhaps a few more people could get into, I think now we’re hoping to be able to play a bigger variety, it’s cool to be able to play on a metal tour like this but then be able to play a festival with Arctic Monkeys and Imagine Dragons and whoever else played that day. We’re all music fans not just metal fans so it’s exciting to be considered on a wider variety of events.
Jamie: Well as you say it’s not like the metal touring side of things is going to go away, as you still fit in nicely on a tour like this one
Josh: Oh, thanks! *laughs*. I think that’s what we’re most excited about, we love tours like this but there is that possibility to be breaking out of “the metal scene” a little. But of course we owe everything we are and have to metal so we would never not want to be a part of it.

Had you written the record before Shane came along or were you writing with him or what was the process?

Josh: We’d written about five or six demos and we had had some songs and we were still talking about who was going to sing. We were just writing with the mindset of lets not worry about the singer lets just write and see how it feels and lets just do it. After talking about it Nick brought up Shane because he knew Oh, Sleeper were going to be taking a break from touring as much as they had been so we showed Shane some songs and we had him fly out and he stayed with me. I have a studio in LA so we figured out which ones he liked and which ones he didn’t like and we wrote some quick lyrics and melodies and some of that ended up becoming All Rise which is the first song we ended up releasing. That was pretty much what happened. From there everybody got really excited by that song so we took what we had and moulded some of the other demos that we had already written towards what we knew Shane could do.

It must have been quite surreal for you guys being a well established band of ten plus years to, not exactly start again, because there was always going to be a percentage of your fanbase that would come along for the ride with the new band but going back to the start in a lot of ways….

Josh: You know when we first heard the news and we made the decision that we wouldn’t be continuing to pursue that band it was disheartening. You know we all worked our asses off for a decade or more to put the band where it was at and I think that’s what really lit the creative fire under us. We have been there and we know what it takes to make a successful band but because we’ve been there and because of how old we all were when we started playing with the band we don’t really know how to do anything else. So this was our only option. We just used it to push ourselves ahead.

I know this tour carries on across Europe for the next couple of weeks but beyond that does Wovenwar have anything else lined up, particularly for 2015?

Josh: We do but it’s something that hasn’t been announced yet. I can’t say where or when or I’ll get in trouble *laughs*. But things are happening for the new year in the States and hopefully back in Europe this time next year or maybe get some Summer festivals. We want to get the songs out to as many people as we can especially those who maybe haven’t made the connection between Wovenwar and our old band. We still hear from people everyday on Twitter saying I didn’t realise Wovenwar was you guys. I think we have to keep putting it in front of people. It took us years to do it with our old band, you have to keep grinding away. We’re really happy and really surprised how awesome the response has been from our old fans or even people who’ve just heard the record. The albums been out for two months now and just the people coming along to the shows and they know every word it’s amazing to us. We were writing without the expectations of our old band, we were just writing what we felt like writing, maybe things that we’d always wanted to write but we werent able to because of the type of singer we had before.

Did you have existing obligations to Metal Blade (their record label) or did they want to stay on board from the beginning, can you tell us how all that worked out?

Josh: We had no obligation, they were just there for us. Even before they’d heard any music, Brian Slagel (Metal Blade CEO) drove down to San Diego and had dinner with us and was just like “I don’t if you’re doing anything or already doing something but whatever it is just know we’re behind you, if you need anything we want to be a part of it”. And that was maybe two or three months after it all happened.
Jamie: That must’ve been so nice for you guys – there’s not too many people like that in the business these days.
Josh: It’s so cool – I dunno if he’s still here but Mike Faley the president (of Metal Blade) was just in our dressing room hanging out, he’s come to London to see the show tonight. I’ve personally known him since 2006 when I joined As I Lay Dying – they are the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a business family. They are like a second family to us. They’re not down your necks when you’re recording, they trust us and will until we’re done recording and then they’ll hear it. It’s not the typical story you hear where the label’s rejecting songs, they just want the artist to be in control of the art itself and then they take over the business side.

Jamie: Awesome, I think that’s a great place to leave it, thanks very much.
Josh: Thanks man no problem!

You can follow Wovenwar on Twitter at @wovenwar and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wovenwar. Wovenwar’s debut self-titled “Wovenwar” album is out now on Metal Blade Records (You can read the Rock Sins review of their album right here).