UTG INTERVIEW: Wolves At The Gate

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It’s been a year since Wolves At The Gate debuted their first full-length, Captors, an excellent post-hardcore album that is genuinely a must-listen for fans of the genre. Rather than sit around and soak up the success of the release after a tour or two, though, the band haven’t slowed down one bit in that time span. Instead, they’ve constantly trekked across the United States while displaying an obvious passion for spreading their music and message.

We had the pleasure of sitting down for an in-depth conversation with clean vocalist/guitarist Steve Cobucci and bass guitarist Ben Summers about life on the road, plans for a diverse sophomore record, and even a few surprises the band have in store for their fans, so read on the get the inside scoop. If you have a chance, make sure to catch Wolves At The Gate on Scream The Prayer this summer as they are not only fantastic people, but extremely talented live performers as well.

This is your first time on the Scream The Prayer Tour and last night was your first show. How did that go?

Ben: Really well. We’re super excited to be a part of this tour and last night was a blast just because we know several of the bands just from touring with them in the past or just through mutual friends. It was cool to show up and it felt like a big family reunion.

It was a little overwhelming at first because we stepped out of our vehicle when we pulled up and it was like, “Hey you! Hey you! Hey you!” So that was awesome, and the show itself was a lot of fun too. We played at Empire and we’ve played there several times before so it’s always fun playing there.

Steve: We’ve been buddies with the guys in The Overseer for a while and we’re label-mates so we’ve been pumped to finally get to tour with them. We met the guys in Silent Planet last summer randomly in Petaluma, California. They’re awesome guys so we’re glad to tour with them. We met Gideon recently. So we started meeting all the bands we were going to be touring with on this tour.

The thing about the first day of tour is you generally don’t know anybody, and everybody is kind of like, “Hi, I’m Steve,” and, “Oh, cool, I guess by two weeks we’ll get to know each other.” We already know a lot of the people pretty well. That’s fun. All the awkwardness is out of the way.

Ben: Just think the first day of school happening all the time on every new tour.

Yeah, I was thinking kind of like the awkward first day of high school.

Steve: “Uhh, hi, I’m a freshman.” “I know. I can tell.” [Laughter]

Is there any part of the tour you’re looking forward to the most?

Steve: Well, we have a longer set time than we normally do on tour which is great. We’re able to play more songs that I think best represent us. Sometimes when we just get to play for, like, 25 minutes… We like the variety on our last record, Captors; we wanna play the songs that are the fastest and we also wanna play the songs that are the slowest too cause we love them all. They’re like our children. There’s something special about each one.

We want to be more than just a band that plays in the heavy music genre. We like songs that don’t have a lot of screaming but we also like songs that are really heavy, so we want to be able to show people that’s who we’re going to be moving forward, and that’s what we’re growing into, so we want our fans and new fans to understand that. So, it’s cool to get to do that finally.

When you guys are out on the road, and you’re going to be out there for a while on Scream The Prayer, how do you keep yourselves occupied from day to day?

Ben: A whole a variety of stuff honestly. Generally when we’re in the vehicle traveling, it’s kind of cool cause we travel in a shuttle bus and there’s room to spread out so you can sleep if you want to or most of the time we’ll just put on our headphones. You can listen to music or read. It’s kind of cool cause we can site down and do our devotions and read the Bible, spend some time with the Lord. Sometimes when I’m driving I’ll listen to sermons or new music.

When we get to the venues, I love it. I mean, one of my favorite aspects of touring is being in a new city every single night. Just exploring, like finding new restaurants to go to. And obviously hanging out with the other bands.

Steve: Yeah, that’s been cool already. It’s been a day and it’s just been fun to hang out, and because there’s so many different bands, I loaded in and I had cool conversations with four different guys already, and not just like, “Hey, what kind of guitar is that?” [We] had legitimate conversation about things that have value, you know, mutual friends and stuff like that.

For me, as of recently, the past couple of months… I’ve just played guitar a lot and I’ve been trying to write for our new record in November, and so it’s been awesome to play guitar and start hashing out ideas and recording some stuff on my own. So that’s how I’ve been spending some of my time. As well as it’s been, I really enjoy the time to be quiet and just read my Bible and learn more about the God we talk about every night, our Savior. I want to know Him more cause He’s done such a magnificent work for me and so I want to spend time getting to know Him even more. It’s awesome cause tour affords us that time we don’t have at home. [Laughter]

Before going on to the new record, you mentioned listening to music on the road. Are there any albums from this year you guys have been really enjoying?

Ben: I think this album actually came out in 2012, but an album I’m obsessed with right now is by a band called Paper Route. Their new album, The Peace of Wild Things, or… Actually, I’m terrible with album names sometimes. It’s something to do with “wild things,” and I always think in my head Where The Wild Things Are, but that’s not it… [Laughter] (Editor’s note: Ben turned out to be correct the first time!) BUT…It’s a really good album, though. I listen to that a lot.

Steve: I’m trying to see if I have any recent music that I’ve purchased in 2013 that came out in 2013 and I can’t find anything. I mean, the records I listen to a lot while out on the road… I love listening to Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros…those are two records I listen to a lot. My Epic, they’re another band I listen to a lot on the road. Yeah, it’s usually not heavy stuff. The heaviest I’ll get is probably, like, [the] old Thrice discography, but that’s about it.

So you don’t listen to the style of music you make necessarily? You spend more time with other genres?

Steve: Right. The heavy music we listen to is the stuff that got us into heavy music, not because we’re elitist or we think nobody is making good music nowadays, that’s just our favorite. Like, when Thursday wrote Full Collapse and War All The Time and Thrice wrote Illusion of Safety and Vheissu and The Artist in the Ambulance, you know, and Underoath is another band too, and As Cities Burn. So those are those heavy records I really love. That’s what got me into it. So the stuff that’s coming out today, there’s good stuff out there, but it’s not the stuff that inspires me to write. I enjoy it, I think it’s cool. There’s cool stuff out there for sure.

You mentioned you guys are writing a new record. Can you give me some insight on how that’s going? Whether it’s going to be a full-length or EP, all of those details?

Steve: Yeah, full-length for sure. We’re really excited, cause with Captors, [that] was our first full-length and we were able to do things we couldn’t do before in an EP, you know, writing songs with more diversity. We basically want to take those aspects of diversity that we did on Captors and just keep exploring them, like kind of pushing those boundaries.

Fans put you in this, like…box of what they think you are and the band is always outside of that long before the fan gets it. Cause that’s what it was like when I listened to bands I loved. They would progress and I wasn’t really ready for that next record, but I loved it once I started listening to it. So I want to keep progressing, and that’s were excited to do, just see what happens.

You said for sets, you want to mix your heavy and light sounds. For this record, what type of direction are you going to take your sound next?  Are you going to try and get even more of a mixture of heavy and light?

Steve: Yeah, I think it’s going to be a roller coaster, cause that’s what our recently played on our iPods or whatever is like that…I’ll listen to Explosions in the Sky and then Advent, you know. So it’s going to be a cool mix of things like that, and then I love As Cities Burn’s Hell or High Water which is just rock. So we want to bring those elements back into what is described as heavy music, cause heavy nowadays is who’s tuning lower and who’s more pissed off. But we want to write music that’s got power to it in a different way, I guess more similar to early 2000’s heavy music.

Ben: I think one thing that I’ve noticed as a listener and a fan of music is a lot of times you find an album you really really like, and you invest into it and really dig deep into it, then you find out the band is recording another album and you just want them to put out the 2.0 of that album again just cause that’s what you really like. I think that’s what all listeners kind of want, but then, I always loved it when the band put out the new album and you listened, and you were like, “Man, this is a lot different than the last album.” At first it’s just weird, but then, it’s a whole different adventure. It opens up all kinds of different musical aspects of the band that you’re listening to.

I don’t know… It’s cool. I love listening to bands and listening to them progress from album to album. I’m excited to see where we go on this next album. I don’t think it’s going to be Captors 2.0 by any means. I mean, there will definitely be the elements there that are Wolves At The Gate, but I’m excited to see where we go musically and push beyond what Captors was.

Do you guys have any other plans for the rest of the year, maybe tour-wise, that you’re looking forward to after Scream The Prayer?

Steve: We’re doing a bunch of summer fests in August and we’ve got an awesome tour coming up in the end of September through October that hasn’t been announced yet so we can’t announce it, but it’s going to be an awesome tour. Uhh, then we go into the studio right after that, and then we’re done for the year. So, our year is pretty much packed and scheduled, so I mean, if you want to come see us play, we’ll probably be back through all the areas you can think of on this tour and the next. Then we’ll be in the studio and everyone gets excited for new music, so yeah, start 2014 prepping for that new record.

Looking forward to it. Is there anything else you want to add for fans reading this?

Steve: We’ve got a new music video coming out for “Slaves.” That’ll be coming out at the end of this month, so we’re super excited for that. We’ve got a “secret EP” that we are working on that will come out around the fall that we’re really excited about. We can’t release what that is [yet], but I’m calling it the “secret EP.”

Ben: Yes, top secret. We’re actually gonna have to confiscate this recorder after we finish.

Be sure to stay in touch with Wolves At The Gate on Facebook and Twitter for updates on all of their future releases.

Written and conducted by: Michael Giegerich – Follow him on Twitter

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