A few hours before Architects’ last show of their EU/UK tour, accompanied by Stray From The Path and Northlane, RockUrLife’s team had the opportunity to have a chat with Alex Edwin Dean. It was then in La Maroquinerie’s yard that we met up with british band’s bassist, wearing a More Than Life T-shirt a beer in his hand, for an interview in the sun punctuated by the sound of glasses banging at the venue’s bar and conversations held by the band members located a few meters behind, enjoying their last hours together, relaxing.
You’re now back with a new album called “Lost Forever // Lost Together“. You worked with Fredrik Nordström and Henrik Udd to produce the record. How did you end up working with them and how was it like?
Alex Edwin Dean (bass): We knew that a few records from bands that we love were recorded with them and we thought we would try something a bit different. We usually record in Reading, back in the UK, but we wanted to do something else this time, and we recorded in Sweden. Basically, we heard some things that have been put out from their studio and it sounded great! Also, we heard that you’re able to track yourself there, and if you want to sit down to record late at night, you can do it. Those were some things really appealing to us, maybe the two main factors that encouraged us to go for it. It was great, it’s the best recording experience we’ve ever had. It was just so easy, and we had all the time we needed to record guitars and vocals late at night. It just worked very well for us. We’re definitely going to work there again.
What was your main goal while working on this new record?
A: Just to make it good I suppose! (laughs) I don’t know, just trying to make an album that we would be totally satisfied with. When we think about our previous records, there have always been a few things that we would probably have liked to do differently. I personally wouldn’t change a thing in “Lost Forever // Lost Together”. I think it sounds great, the songs are all there and we’re very happy with how it came out.
What was the creative process like? Did you first come up with the music, or did you first write lyrics?
A: The thing that we did on this album was recording a lot at home. The demos were sent out to all of us and we all gave our feedback, then it was quite re-demoed a lot. I think we haven’t had any real band practice before we went into the studio. Everyone had already it worked out to make sure they could play it. The music comes first every time!
As the band said in previous interviews, “Lost Forever // Lost Together” drifts from “Daybreaker” (2012)’s political lyrics as you wished to not sound like a “broken record”. Instead, you focused on “the big picture” which people could relate to far more, just like in the song called “Castles In The Air”. However, it seems like you kind of stick with political lyrics in the first song of the album, “Gravedigger”.
A: Yes, that is a political song. It’s not that wave for the whole album though, it deals with religion or the crisis at Fukushima at the moment for example. Also, the song “C.A.N.C.E.R” is about Tom’s cancer (Tom Searle, Architects’ guitar player), which is obviously way more personal issues. That’s a personal song and that’s something we didn’t really do on “Daybreaker”. We just wanted to vary the lyrics a bit more.
In “Dead Man Talking”, there’s a line that says “Maybe Orwell was right all along”. Considering the fact that Goerge Orwell was a British writer who was famous for his awareness of social injustice, his opposition to totalitarianism, or his commitment to democratic socialism, we can ask ourselves: is this where you seek inspiration? From books, articles, anything else…?
A: It’s more from current affairs and actually from searching about what’s going on in the world, also about having a kind of spoon fed to us by the media. That’s where a lot of the basis of the lyrics comes from, through going out and looking for answers rather than to be told what to believe all the time. The four of us doesn’t follow mass media, and that’s probably where the inspiration for writing comes from.
Your style changed a bit through the different albums. What would you have to say to the people who miss the “old Architects”?
A: Listen to the old albums you like. (laughs) If people don’t like the direction we’ve taken, there’s not really much we can do about it, it’s what we want to do and we’re never going to write materials to please people, we want to please ourselves. If they don’t like our “new sound”, it’s never going to go back to what is was because this is the kind of direction we’re going to follow from now on.
In 2013, you left your old record label Century Media and decided to join Epitaph Records. What is your relationship with your new label and what has changed since then?
A: All of us are way more satisfied now. We feel the label actually cares about us and wants to push us to succeed, whereas we felt a bit left behind in Century Media, we didn’t really get as much attention as we thought we probably should have. Just the atmosphere of Epitaph Records is amazing, it’s a great label and they have great ethics. It’s a lot better for us now, the label has a roster that’s better for us. Century Media was more like a straight up metal label and it wasn’t the right place for our band.
Talking about opportunities, what is the thing that you would like to do with Architects that you haven’t been able to do yet?
A: There’s a few places we haven’t been able to do yet, some spots that we haven’t really seen like Japan. We see our friends go to some places and we’re quite jealous, they would play in Hawaii, South Africa and that kind of place. It would be nice to take off countries that we’d like to visit. We’d like to keep playing shows, keep the response that we’ve been getting recently. It would be nice to continue on the path that we’re on right now, things are going pretty well for us!
You’re a successful band now and you obviously spend a lot of time touring. Have you ever had any doubt in dedicating your life to music?
A: There’s been times when it’s been tough, definitely. I don’t really understand how we’ve managed to make it with the little amount of money that we had in the past… There’s definitely times where we thought “Maybe this isn’t going as well as we had hoped it would…” We’ve had a rough road here and there, where we would put a wrong album and it’s kind of hard to bounce back from that. But I think we just kept working, and it has paid off now.
Talking about touring, you’ve been on the road with Northlane and Stray From The Path for a few weeks now, and tonight is the last gig of the tour. How did these two bands end up as opening bands, and how was the tour basically?
A: Stray From The Path are old friends of ours, we did our first ever American tour with them. We’ve taken them out before, they’re just very very good friends. It’s nice to be in a position where we can bring them over and give them the opportunity to play in front of a great crowd. We haven’t met Northlane before, but we were big fans of their band. We haven’t really done a tour before where we could watch every band play every night, and this time we’re just having great bands along. The tour has been unbelievable really, selling out venues that we really didn’t expect to. For example, we did Cologne last night and it was a 20.000 people sold out room. Last time we played there we had about 550 people in, so the step that we’ve taken recently is unbelievable for us. I’m amazed by the possibilities now.
Where was the craziest crowd you’ve seen?
A: Probably had to be last night in Cologne. We did a great show in London as well and it’s been a lot of great shows to be fair, but the headliner in London was special for us. It was a big show and it went very well. Last night was just a bit of a shock, playing in front of so many people far away from home. It was our biggest headliner in Europe so it was very cool.
You are currently all vegan, and it seems like a lot of musicians from the hardcore or metalcore scene tend to be vegan as well.
A: Yeah, it’s definitely more popular now I think. I see quite a lot of vegans on tour.
Do you think it’s pure coincidence, or is there really a link between music and lifestyles such as veganism?
A: There’s definitely a link. Absolutely. When I talk about veganism to people, most of them don’t know what it is, but it seems like everyone on tour understands it. Even non-vegan musicians respect it. Just the community that we’re in is great for sharing information, sharing ideas. I’ve definitely had a few ones on this tour, I’ve probably been too drunk and overly passionate about veganism, trying to convert a few people on the bus. (laughs)
So when did you go vegan, and why?
A: About two years ago now, or maybe just a year and a half. I initially went vegetarian for a little while, purely based on a conversation I had with Tom’s girlfriend actually. She was like “Well, if you think about it, just give it a go for a weekend.” so I tried and I never looked back from that. Then I started to do a bit more research about the diet benefits of being a vegan and the animals’ rights side of things. When I started to learn more about it, I just couldn’t be a vegetarian anymore without thinking about the downsides of it. For me, it was definitely an animals’ rights issue, I had to change what I was doing because it was just hypocritical to pretend I was enthusiastic about animals and then go and eat them… It just didn’t make any sense.
Going vegan seems to be such a great idea, but it also seems to be a hard thing to do at first…
A: It’s definitely tricky! It’s good for the band because the four of us don’t eat meat, our tour manager either because he’s a vegetarian, so it makes it easier when you’re in a group and everyone’s in it together. It definitely helps at first. But yeah, it’s hard, I think what a lot of people struggle with is stuff like cheese and chocolate but there’s a lot of alternatives. It’s just so much better. I know it may sound a bit intense, but I think it has actually made me a better person.
Great, it’s nice to know you’re 100% content with your choice. Let’s talk about another topic now: some bands have been accused of exploiting their fans for charging them money to meet them with Meet & Greets that cost hundreds of dollars. How do you feel about this system?
A: (sighs) It’s disgusting. People are kind enough to support your band and if you can’t find any time in your day to thank them for that and give them something back, then you’re doing this job for the wrong reasons. It’s the stupid thing I’ve ever heard, I’ve learned that a few bands do it but luckily we’re not really in that community where that’s acceptable. It’s definitely a different mind-set here. But yeah, it’s fucking awful! There would be no chance for our band of doing that, it’s wrong.
Talking about the evolution of the music industry, we all know it hasn’t been in a very good place for the past few years, so what can people do to help bands?
A: Buy music. It’s still a thing that people can do and should do. There are times where I would think about downloading music illegally but then I would realize it would be very hypocritical of me. I’d like people to buy our albums because it’s not necessary about making money, but it’s allowing bands to continue doing what they want to do. That’s the hardest part of being in an upcoming band, the financial side of it keeps you from doing the things you would like to do sometimes. I think paying for music, buying t-shirts or going to shows are a good way of investing in the band because you get back from that as well. Another way of helping musicians is spreading the word about bands. Just tell friends, whether in real life or on the Internet, it’s just common sense stuff but people don’t do it that often because they don’t feel like they have to. Just being an active fan promoting the band can help a lot.
A lot of bands say that most of the money comes from touring.
A: Yes, definitely. A lot of it is merchandise. It’s very important that the fans invest in the bands, unless they would not be able to tour.
Considering the fact that the industry has changed through the years, how do you keep faith in what you do?
A: Our band just does what we think is right. We try not to let too many things influence the way we create and play, we have a great manager who shares that kind of vision. We just stay true to what we want to do, we’re not like “We need to do this to be massive.” For us it’s just about staying true to what we want to be as a band and it has actually paid off now.
Talking about that, what have you learned from being in a band?
A: To stay gig smart, to be professional, to try to help out other people when you can and to be respectful to them because you’re going to spend so much time with some people that we need to look out for each other. I’ve also learned to play an instrument properly. (laughs)
When you were a child, you probably had favourite bands. Who inspired you?
A: The first band that I’ve really got into was Papa Roach. They got me into metal and music basically. Before that, I loved bands such as Blink-182, Nirvana, Deftones… There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about some of my favourite bands!
To conclude, our website is called “RockUrLife”. What rocks your life?
A: What has been rocking my life basically is Gig Smart, which is a new organisation I’ve started. It’s just this thing on the Internet that I’m doing and it’s basically me giving advice about how to be good at touring. I hope people are going to check it out because it’s going to be big!
Well, we’re done. Thank you for your time!
A: No problem! See you tonight!