Shortly after coming off of Warped Tour in 2013, Blessthefall decided to head back to the studio to dust some anger off of their shoulders. The frustration is clearly heard in the their fourth studio album Hollow Bodies, but the members decided to also bring new elements to their sound. With producer Joey Sturgis, the band set forth to put out what they believe to be their strongest work to date. Cliché caught up with drummer Matt Traynor during their Crowd Surf America tour to discuss their gratefulness to their fans, as well as the factors that contributed to Hollow Bodies.
Cliché: You all have an energy about you like a band on your first tour. There is this huge level of excitement on your set unlike most veteran bands carry with them. Where do you find this motivation?
Matt Traynor: The crowd motivates us! So, when we do things like asking them to get on top of each others shoulders, or jumping on stage to give Beau a high five, it gives us a more fun show when everyone else is having a good time as well! Before we formed the band, we would watch other bands like Underoath, As I Lay Dying, you know bands that brought this intensity to the stage. When we started the band, we knew that we had to not only incorporate good music, but also good performance on stage! That just how we do it!
Outside of the venue in NJ, you guys were walking alongside the line outside, giving high fives. Instead of retreating into the depths of privacy on the road like other bands, you embrace your fans. You fought to meet your fans like they reach out to you. Is this your way of thanking fans for the moral support?
Without the fans, we wouldn’t be here. We are supportive of them, because they support us. Because of them we are still here today. We are nearing 10 years of being a band in a year…we are pretty old! Without them, we wouldn’t have gotten this far, so it is important to reach out to them.
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t ask if you are planning any 10 year anniversary tours…
A LOT of people have asked that. We wrote just this walk when we were pretty much children. When we go back and listen to the record, we aren’t embarrassed or anything, but when we wrote those songs, we were so much younger and we have grown so much more as a band since then. That time is kind of long since past. His Last Walk, we did it, and don’t need to revisit it, especially since we have had a new singer. I think if anything, we might do a 10 year tour to celebrate 10 years as a band, but not that particular album. We have to focus on growing, and everything else that we are doing and we want to share that.
At your NJ show on the Crowd Surf America Tour, Craig Owens of Chiodos and I spoke about faith and what it means to him on his life on the road. What keeps you motivated while being on tour?
The fans motivate us, and keep going crazy, so we are like, ‘man we need to step up our game!’ They continuously come out, and spread the word about our band to friends and family, and then they come out. Also we [the band] help each other. Whatever or wherever it is, in the bus, or the stage, we just motivate each other as a group.
There is an increase in the use of electronics in Hollow Bodies. What made you want to incorporate that in your heaviest work to date?
As times change, little things become more and more popular. In this day in age, electronics have become more and more popular, some bands incorporate a keyboardist, or electronic samples in their music. We recording awakening and witness with Elvis Baskette, and he is more of a rock recording engineer, and he did Incubus and other rock bands. And we wanted to get in with what is a little more popular these days. We recorded with Joey Sturgis, who is good with the computer and samples and electronics. and we knew that with his help and our music, that it would make for a great collaboration, which we were very excited about. We may record the next album with him, we are going to start writing as soon as this tour is over. We will see what happens!
Hollow Bodies ends on a lighter note with the song Open Water. Why did you choose to end this aggressive record with a tender song?
When this band started, we wanted to incorporate heaviness and catchiness all in one album. We kind of followed that structure with all of our albums like Stay Still, Meet Me At the Gates and Open Water, they all have that same vibe where we are jamming out. There’s no screaming in them, it is just stuff where we actually like to listen to. We don’t go back to our bunks and listen to just heavy metal and screaming. We like listening to Ellie Goulding, or something chill. We like playing around with songs like that, and i think we are going to continue that trend and write some rock ballads as well.
What can you tell me about the song Youngbloods? To me, it seems as though you composed about teetering on the straight and narrow path.
Well, what I can is that, when we were writing that album we were just coming off of Warped Tour. We saw things that kind of bummed us out. Other bands and other musicians were doing things that weren’t really that great. You look at them and think, ‘Ok, you aren’t really that loving as every thinks you are. You are giving off this fake persona.’ Without naming anyone, we kind of wrote that song directed at people like that. There are people that pretend to acknowledge their fans, and it’s not right.
Hollow Bodies is an interesting title for a record. What is even more fascinating about this title is that Beau had stated in an interview that this title represents the soulless, fame hungry musicians who yearn for the rock star status. Do you personally feel that in your years in Blessthefall, that this is what the rock genre has succumbed to? A hedonistic desire of life perhaps?
We are pretty happy for the most part. We all have this life on tour, off it, wives, girlfriends and we are lucky enough to be in a bus and having fun doing all of this. We are living the dream.We get to go out, and be surrounded by great bands, like the ones on this tour, but there are some bands every now and then that you are just like, ‘this is NOT happening.’ And things just don’t click. You see these bands outside of the venues and from the show perspective and they are just mean. They are mean to their fans and lie, but later on when they perform on stage, they are like, “Thank you so much! We love you! We wouldn’t be here without all of you!” and it’s like, then why are you such a d*ck?! Why do you do what you do, and say these awful things? It’s fake, and that just really got to us after Warped Tour and we had to write about it. It got our blood boiling, and we wrote some tunes about it.
What challenges can we expect you to face next?
Hopefully another intense challenge! It’s hard writing albums and trying to top what you have already written. Every record we write, we are like, ‘Oh man that’s my favorite!’ but then we write a new album, and we go, ‘screw those other ones! THIS one is the best!’ Hollow Bodies came out, and we all collectively agree it sh-ts on all our other albums. NOT to say anything bad about our other albums, we love those records, but we feel like we really killed it on Hollow Bodies, and I am excited to see what we can do with a new album and with the writing process. It’s coming up soon, so hopefully we kill Hollow Bodies!
Blessthefall Interview written and photographed by Heather Glock