The Garden Statement caught up with Telle Smith, vocalist of The Word Alive, this past Sunday at the Holmdel, NJ stop of Vans Warped Tour. Check out what he had to say about TWA’s new album REAL., keeping up with Warped Tour’s crazy schedule, and the band’s new music video for “Lighthouse.” Big thanks to Telle for hanging out with The Garden Statement!
The Garden Statement: The Word Alive’s newest album REAL. dropped June 10th via Fearless Records. This being your third studio album, how did the writing of REAL. differ from your previous releases?
Telle Smith: Now, being a band for five years, this being our third full-length, our fourth release, we just understood a little bit more about what we wanted to accomplish. Through the trial and error of trying different things with the other records, we were able to hone in on what we did best with those albums and cut out some of the things we might not have done too well, didn’t work out too well for us. I think just having a better understanding of the direction we were trying to go helped a lot.
TGS: Just reading some of the reviews, it seemed like it. All the feedback I’ve seen has been very positive. But you guys released this album and then immediately hopped on Vans Warped Tour. Do you think it helps or hurts a release in any way that you aren’t doing your own promotional tour for the album?
TS: I think it helps playing a tour like Warped Tour because you’re playing to tons of new fans. Say we were doing a headliner in the summer – not only are you competing against the strongest tour we could be on in the United States in the course of the year, which is Warped Tour, but it would be the fans that already know we have a new album or have already bought it as opposed making new fans everyday as well as playing to all your old fans. I think, hands down, Warped Tour is the best tour we could possibly do to release an album on.
TGS: So have you integrated the new songs into the Warped Tour set?
TS: We play half new and half older songs. It goes over pretty well it seems.
TGS: This is the first studio album with drummer Luke Holland. Did you find there was any sort of adjustment period to transition him into the writing process?
TS: No, actually. It was super smooth. It was really easy. There was not really any issues. If anything, I think it did make it easier because we had someone else who was able to put in their input and help to make the songs the best they could be.
TGS: Let’s talk about the name of the album for a second. The name is REAL. All caps, punctuated with a period at the end. It’s very simple yet definitely brings an impact. Is that what you were going for?
TS: Yeah, we’ve always named our albums. This one, we wanted to be more of a statement that’s about our band – if that makes sense. Empire was based off on lyrical content and about the beginning of the band. Deceiver was about lyrical content and the overall vibe of the record and where we were at the time. Life Cycles – same thing. It was based off of an original lyrics. But I actually took and changed the lyrics and that song became “Life Cycles.” We’ve never named an album for all of our music, all of us individually, and that’s what we wanted to represent with that.
TGS: You said that you were trying to make a statement. What statement where you trying to specifically make?
TS: Just to show people that you know what you’re going to get with The Word Alive, whether it’s on-stage or off-stage. We try to meet and hangout with as many fans as we can, reply and take time to partake in all the social media, stuff that we can find time to do. We put on the best live show we possibly can. We aren’t a band that’s getting so fucked up every night that they can’t play the next day. If anything goes wrong during our set, it’s not for a lack of us caring or trying. We feel that we are just normal dudes who are writing music that hopefully means something to people and that’s just what we want, that connection.
TGS: Speaking of not going out and partying and everything, especially while on tour, you are one of the few metalcore vocalists that does both the screaming and the clean vocals. With this crazy Warped Tour schedule of doing shows every day, how do you keep it together?
TS: I just have to go above and beyond for my voice. I always say I would rather be that guy that doesn’t hang out as much but performs well everyday on Warped Tour instead of someone who is focused on the stuff after the show and doesn’t perform as well. The reason I’m on Warped Tour is to be on stage every day and perform for our fans. The reason I’m on Warped Tour is not to stay up until 5 in the morning every night and messing with my body and preventing me from being able to do my job. I take it seriously. When I’m touring, I understand that I have to be at my best every day for the fans to realize what The Word Alive is trying to get across live.
TGS: It seems like all that hard work is paying off if you look at the Billboard Charts. The week REAL. came out, it was the 33rd most purchased album in the US. Did you have any idea it would be that big?
TS: We had high hopes. Being a band for a while, seeing the progression of the album, we knew it was doing better than anything we’ve done before but we didn’t know exactly where it was going to go. Competing against great releases like The Amity Affliction, Beartooth, as well as The Warped Tour Compilation, we feel really humbled that our fans set aside their own money to support our band and our art. It’s doing really well right now and I can only hope that it continues to because when fans support the fans they love, that’s how they’re able to make careers out of what they do.
TGS: You mentioned earlier that The Word Alive has a music video coming out in the next few days for “Lighthouse,” a track off of the new album. Why pick that track?
TS: We felt like we wanted to do something – I feel like if we could go back, we would’ve shot a video for “Life Cycles” sooner in our album cycle for the record Life Cycles. But it came later. We knew that fans would connect with “Lighthouse.” We all felt it. All of our friends and family – we showed everyone who was really closed to us the record and that’s a song that really spoke to a lot of people before we ever released it to the public. We felt like we knew that song would be a good one for fans. We also wanted to start off the record with a music video that really encompassed something positive. There’s darker – really dark songs on the record, actually – and we wanted to save some of those. We have plans for more music videos for this album cycle but we wanted to start off kind of the way we ended the last cycle.
TGS: That’s all I have on my end. Is there anything else you want to say? Comments? Messages to fans?
TS: Just keep supporting the record. If you see it in a store and haven’t picked it up, hopefully you can do so and turn it up.
The Word Alive will be premiering the music video for “Lighthouse,” a track off their new album REAL., today on their website! Be sure to check it out!