Interview: We as Human

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There is an infinite number of up and coming rock bands and it’s hard to sort through them all to find one that stands out above the rest. Sometimes you’re lucky and discover a great band opening for one of your favorite artists or as part of a big festival tour that has one or two of your must see musicians on the bill. For any of you rockers who missed the Carnival of Madness tour, you also probably missed your shot at seeing We As Human.

That’s too bad. We As Human is a band with fire; passion; really loud, rocking guitars; and, of course, heart. We As Human’s self-titled debut full length album has been extremely well-received and definitely has a few gems on it. More than that, the band members have such a positive energy and dedication to their music. The band’s insistence upon waiting to make the right debut video after multiple offers just demonstrates how driven We As Human is to making and perfecting quality music.

Pop-Break was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to talk to lead singer Justin Cordle while the band is on the road. He gives us a little insight on the toughness of touring, explains how they managed to get kicked out of a hotel by being polite, and tells us a little bit about his guilty pleasure. Wrecking Ball anyone?

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Pop-Break: Very cool. So first and foremost, let’s jump into it, what should people know about the band?

Justin Cordle: That’ s a good question. Well, we love rock and roll first of all. I mean obviously we are a rock band and we are a rock band because growing up we just couldn’t get enough of it, you know. The band, the guys listen to everything from Jimi Hendrix to Slipknot to Korn back to Dave [Matthews] and like Creed and we just love rock and roll. So, We as Human is kind of born out of this desire to make some of it ourselves. It has just affected us so deeply so yeah we love rock and roll and we’re pretty nice guys! That’s a good thing! We aren’t too crazy. You know what else should they know? I’m a home-schooler. I was. The band came from Idaho and uh we got kicked out of a hotel last night for the first time. That was fun!

PB: What did you do?!

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JC: Which was totally not our fault! The guy working at the hotel was a total creeper and he was just really kind of out there and we walked in and I asked him his name, right, you know, that’s what you do, “Hey what’s your name!” and he was like I don’t think that’s any of your business. I’m like wow, okay settle down. So Jake [Jones] walks in, our guitar player, and he’s like “Hey! Dude,” I tell Jake don’t ask him his name and the guy is like you need to settle down. I’m like, what are you talking about settle down? You are like going crazy man. He’s like, you know what? I think I smell drugs. I’m not checking you guys in. For the record, me and my band, we actually don’t do drugs. We might look like we do but we don’t! Then I’m like are you kidding me dude? So I won’t tell the whole story about what happened but it ended with a phone call where he was threatening to beat us up in the parking lot!

PB: Wow!

JC: So this guy was out there so there’s something they could know about us!

PB: That’s not your typical story!

JC: No it’s not. I know it’s like you think about a rock band getting kicked out of a hotel and usually they’re the ones being rowdy but this time it was the guy behind the counter just being a creeper!

PB: That’s awesome. Good story.

JC: Yeah! I know right? So we didn’t get as much sleep as we needed to get! I’m a little groggy today but we’ll be alright by tomorrow.

PB: Good. Well how is the tour going anyway? You guys are out there with Filter? Right?

JC: Yeah, we’re on tour with Filter right now. Fight or Flight is out with us as well.

PB: Oh awesome.

JC: It’s been going really good. We started the tour. We did the first month of this tour with Filter and us and Red and Otherwise and Red and Otherwise jumped off and Fight or Flight just jumped on so we’ve actually toured with a few bands on this one tour. It’s been awesome. We just got off the Carnival of Madness tour with Shinedown and Papa Roach and Skillet and that was a big tour. We were playing huge amphitheaters and arenas and whenever we do an arena tour usually about halfway through we start to really kind of get the itch to play some smaller shows where the crowds not a thousand feet away so this tour has been a smaller crowd like we wanted. There’s more crowd surfing, it’s just more intimate and more our fans in the crowd and likes those show so it’s been a great tour. We’ve been having a really great time with Filter. Filter’s been really nice. They’re cool dudes, same thing with Fight or Flight. They’re just awesome, awesome bands so we’re honored to be on tour with them.

PB: So I know that you said that you guys are from Idaho and I read somewhere that you guys moved to Nashville. Is that right?

JC: We did.

PB: So what’s it like being a hard rock band in the heart of, you know, music city, that is so country music based?

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JC: Laughter It’s um, you know what, it’s surprising how normal it feels. People in Nashville and in the whole kind of central Tennessee area, they just get it. They understand it. You know, coming from a small town in Idaho, it’s like rock and roll, why would you play rock and roll? And so we spent the first few years with everybody in our town scratching their heads wondering why our guitars were turned up so loud and drum so hard so we finally moved to Nashville because it’s easier to tour out of Nashville. When we started touring a lot, you know going out on tour with Red and Skillet and a lot of these bigger bands, we were like man, we can’t do this from Idaho. We’re gone for six weeks, eight weeks at a time and we don’t see our families. We’ve got to go somewhere where if we have a day off we can go home, you know? So that’s Nashville and actually a lot of rock bands are moving to Nashville now because it’s so easy to tour out of there. I know that like I live in a little subsection of the Nashville area and Brad Whitford from Aerosmith just moved down the street from me and Ted Nugent’s guitar player lives right next to me and the drummer from My Chemical Romance lives there and Nick Raskulinecz, one of the greatest rock producers out there, lives not far from me so there’s a big resurgence of rock bands moving to Nashville so it’s a new thing. Get a little rock into country.

PB: Hey, that’s the way it should be! Okay so what has been the hardest struggle for you guys thus far as a band?

JC: The hardest struggle, I would say that it’s kind of a toss up between not seeing our families for week and months on end and getting along while we’re on the road. The music, I tell people when you’re touring the music is like five percent of what we do. We’re on stage anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes each night and the rest of it, the rest of the 23 and a half hours of each day we’re in each others mugs man. We’re sleeping next to each other in bed in hotel rooms and we’re sitting next to each other traveling all the time and we’re eating together and sleeping together and you know if one person gets sick then everybody gets sick and we’ve all got our idiosyncrasies and it’s like doing life together. It’s pretty hard as a band and you know a lot of bands break up because of that but we’re pretty lucky. We actually really get along really really well and we still enjoy each others’ company and laugh at each others’ jokes even after all these years of touring together so we’re really fortunate and we’ve got a lot of people on our side helping us out on the road so that’s probably the biggest problem, of getting along and missing our families when we’re out here as well and we’re trying to be as present as we can through like skype and facetime and all that stuff. I’d say those are the biggest challenges of touring, for sure.

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PB: Cool. Well lets talk about the music a little bit. I mean you guys have a kick ass video for “Strike Back” right now and that song is just so freaking awesome. What was it like to shoot that video.

JC: It was amazing! First of all, thank you! I’m glad you like it. You know it was our very first music video ever. I remember being like 13, 14 years old, I think, and watching a music video and I remember it clicked in my brain if I ever have a band we will never make a bad music video. So when we got together, especially with the internet and YouTube and everything, whatever happens anywhere in the world lives on YouTube forever. We had directors and producers coming up to us on tour and be like we’ll make you a music video for like fifty bucks and we were just like no, no, no. For years. No video is better than a bad video and so getting forward to “Strike Back,” we finally had a good budget and the right people in place and so it was like we waited so long to make our first music video. When we were actually in front of the camera it felt so good. It was just completely natural. We were like we’re just going to do in front of the camera what we do on stage and so when people watch “Strike Back” you know it’s not a big act. From take one we just started throwing down and we had a great time making it and it’s just cool to have a music video.

PB: Well you guys also recorded with some really cool guests on your album. What was it like to to in the studio recording with them?

JC: Actually we recorded our entire album and it was finished. It was done and it was just me singing on it and then towards the end of the recording we started talking with our producer and our label and everything and they brought up this idea of having guest vocalists. They just kind of threw it at us like hey do you guys want anybody to sing on the record? And I’m like oh my gosh! I didn’t really think about that, that we could actually do something like that. John Cooper from Skillet and I, you know we’re really good friends and we toured together a lot at that point so he’s the first guy who popped into my head. So I asked him, I was like would you sing our songs? He’s like yeah man, you pick the song and you tell me what you guys want and I’ll go in. Skillet actually went into the studio with the same producer we have, Howard Benson, right after we left the studio with our album. So he went in actually after we had finished our album and recorded his vocals on “Zombie” and it was just amazing.

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Then we had known Lacey Sturm, the former lead singer of Flyleaf, for a couple of years and she was just amazing. I’m just a huge fan of everything that she has done and I started thinking man it would be great to have a girl sing on “Take the Bullets Away” because I wrote that song about a woman so it’d be awesome to have a woman sing on it. You kind of get that perspective in there as well so we called her up and asked her if she would do it. She’s like, you know, send me the song and we’ll see so we sent her “Take the Bullets Away” and we just waited. I was just so nervous. I was like oh my gosh if this actually happens, Lacey might sing on our record, then she called me and was like I love the song, I love everything about it, I love the story and she’s like I would totally do that and I was back in Nashville already so I called up our producer and was like this is going to happen, she’s cool with it. So she flew all the way out from Pittsburgh, where she lives, to L.A. to record for one day and so it was just a huge honor.

Actually I just heard that song on the radio for the first time today, “Take the Bullets Away,” a DJ was spinning it and I still get goosebumps listening to her scream on that song and listening to her sing on it. It’s just incredible. It’s a dream come true. We had a great time with the collaborations we did.

PB: So what song on the album are you most proud of?

JC: Most proud of? I think “Take the Bullets Away” right now. You know since we’re talking about that song, that’s probably, I don’t know if it’s my favorite but it’s really close. I go back and forth between “Take the Bullets Away” and “Bring to Life.” And all these songs, they really, you know as a songwriter, you have to be really vulnerable with who you are and what you believe and your emotions and I can’t sing these songs each night without feeling all the emotions I was feeling as I was writing these songs. I think that “Take the Bullets Away” and the story that comes out with our fans about how they’re connecting with that song are amazing. I mean even “Bring to Life” and “Zombie,” they all have these moments. I think one of my favorite lines that I have ever written is “There’s a time to be born and a time to die and somewhere they collide,” so there are moments throughout all of these songs that I’m proud of. I’m proud of the whole record. I think it’s the best music that we’ve ever made as a band and we’re super proud of everything that’s on there.

PB: Awesome well now, not about your band, but about your musical preferences, what band or cd is your guilty pleasure, that you are not proud that you own and listen to?

JC: Oh man! Can you legally ask questions like that?!

PB: Oh yes I can!

JC: Alright, oh man this is going to be embarrassing. Me and the band, we listen to everything so you know so much of the band are fans of Deftones and I even listen to some country music. I love country. Garth Brooks is one of my favorites but my wife likes Katy Perry and that new song, “Roar” that she has, I admit every now and then I get caught bopping my head to “Roar” by Katy Perry or even like there might be a little “Wrecking Ball.” You know every now and then that might make it into my iTunes mix.

PB: That’s fantastic.

JC: There you got it out of me!

PB: Success! So one last thing, what is the next step for you guys as a band and what should people listen to first if they haven’t heard you guys?

JC: Well the first part of that question, what’s the next step, touring. I think that’ s a major thing for us right now for many reasons. One, to get in front of our audience, people who are listening and a lot of people who aren’t listening still. I mean that’s why we’ve toured with bands like Shinedown and Skillet and the bands that we tour with because they’ve got this great audience and they bring us out and they introduce us to their audience and we’re very grateful for that and so I think what’s next is just a ton of touring, a ton of live shows, a ton of radio. We go to a lot of radio stations where we are and we do acoustic performances and the people kind of get behind the scenes and get to know us and who we are and what we’re about and I think that is what’s coming up next and what’s the second part of the question?

PB: What song should people listen to first if they haven’t heard you guys yet?

JC: I would say “Strike Back,” not only because it’s our single right now, which is awesome, but it’s just got such a killer groove to it and it’s aggressive and just rock and roll.

PB: Well it’s a kick ass song, I’ll give you that.

JC: “Strike Back,” “Bring to Life,” but one song, listen to “Strike Back” then watch the music video then they get to see what they hear.