Crown The Empire went into their third record with a lot of questions. More reflective, self-aware and open-minded, ‘Retrograde’ is a very different shade of Crown The Empire but it’s one that has answers. Catching Andy Leo in-between a signing on Warped Tour and an afternoon at the amusement park next door, we caught a glimpse into the band’s colourful new world.
So, ‘Retrograde’. How you feeling about sharing it with the rest of the world?
Stoked. I can’t believe it’s finally happening. It’s a surreal experience because this is the hardest I’ve ever worked on anything in my life. To see it finally come into fruition, it’s exciting.
Any worries people will push back against the growth you guys have made?
I think it’s to be expected. It’s pretty different to what we’ve been doing before. It’s not the same shit, so maybe there’ll be a push back on that. We’re just prepared that there are going to be fans who aren’t stoked that we haven’t done exactly the same thing as before.
But on the other hand, being able to surprise people must feel good?
Hell yeah, I cant wait for the people to hear it and realise ‘oh shit, this is actually pretty tight’.
Was there a Vision for the record going in?
We definitely had a vision, or at least a mindset that we wanted to be in. At first it all started with some self-discovery, looking at ourselves and trying to figure out who we are as people, growing up and where we wanted go to as a band. What we wanted to say and everything like that. We hadn’t really thought about it too hard because everything we were writing before was just a story, y’know?
And did it make sense straight away?
I was on board immediately. I was excited to go into the process of creating and collaborating with people. It’s the whole point; it’s the best part.
Was there a song that made it all fall into place?
‘Kaleidoscope’. It’s one of the later songs on the album but it was actually the first song that had a spark of where we were going to go for the rest of the album. We figured, since we had so much time to write, why not go as far out there as we can? Be super weird and if it’s just too weird, we can pull it back but let’s try it and see where it takes us. From the first moment we saw that, we realised that this could be really cool.
What does the phrase “the world is your kaleidoscope” mean?
The world is what you make it. Everyone has their own perspectives and vision to see themselves and the world. We didn’t really think about that before. Looking through this different lens and honing in on what was important, the music and the lifestyle and everything we were doing before, it was the perfect way to describe what we were doing now. And also the psychedelic sound of what the song really is. It was the perfect deal.
Is ‘Retrograde’ the record you thought you’d make?
We had no idea what was going to happen. But we are so super fucking stoked with the result. We’re always going to be constantly changing and improving but this is what we wanted to do as a band. We’ve been working hard, man. It pushed our expectations.
There seems to be a sense of wanting people to look at the bigger picture with the record and with what you’ve been posting on social media. Where does that come from?
We’ve noticeably seen how vastly different the internet has changed people’s opinions. The transfer of information is instantaneous now. You can’t censor it, because it’s everywhere the minute that it happens so, for us, we took a lot of parallels to the sixties. That’s the easiest thing to compare it to. That generation of people were exposed to things that they’d previously just been told stories about, they understood things that happened with the Vietnam War and television was able to broadcast those images to people’s homes. There are a lot of heavy parallels between what was going on back then and today. We’re not standing in a political sphere. We’re not trying to say anything other than, real things are happening and maybe you should be paying attention?
This record tackles bigger topics. Does that come from the world you find yourself surrounded by, or have you just grown in confidence as songwriters?
It’s just what we do. We’ve always been nerdy guys who watch movies and we love documentaries. It’s what we’ve learned and observed. We’re not part of actual society, we don’t live a normal life but looking at it from an outside perspective definitely gives you a different opinion on what everyone is doing. A lot of the song ideas would come from us sitting, saying ’you know what’s fucked up?’ and just talking about it.
Did you realise that people were listening to what you had to say?
Absolutely but we didn’t realise how much power that really is. We have like, a million likes on Facebook who are real people who are following us and seeing what we have to say. Actually having something to say this time around rather than ‘oh, I’m so drunk right now’ or just saying things just to say them, is important.
What made you realise that?
It’s just growing up. I was seventeen years old and didn’t know anything about anything.
One of the most striking lines on the record is “We take back our lives for the first time.” Is that how you feel about Crown The Empire and this record?
Yeah. We’ve been in a position where it felt like we were just another number. We were lumped into this group of things and it felt like people were writing us off and we had to appease fans. With this record it felt like, okay we’re going to say something that may not appease everybody but this is our record to make. We’re doing this for nobody but ourselves.