Florida hard rock quintet Wage War are back with their fourth full-length, 'Manic'. Pulled together against all the odds during the last year of adversity and upheaval, it's a record they're confident is "the best Wage War yet".
"'Manic' encompasses everything we've gone through as musicians in the last year-and-a-half," says drummer Stephen Kluesener. "The whole industry halted, and we technically lost our jobs. Our scene was among the first to leave and the last to come back. The album captures the whole period."
Rhythm guitarist and clean vocalist Cody Quistad adds: "'Mania' is a wild emotion. The last year was all severe highs and lows. We had some victories, but we've also had so many low points. We've built this thing for the last 10 years and put all of our chips into it. We've missed birthdays and funerals, but we've done some extraordinary things. Last year, we found ourselves wondering if it would ever come back. That's really what the album is about."
Arriving ahead of a UK support tour with I Prevail booked in for next year, it's a record that could well mark a real step up for the group. Cody tells us more.
Hello Cody! Welcome back. How's it going? What are you doing today?
I'm doing great, hopefully about to watch my Tampa Bay Lightning take the Stanley Cup back to back.
What've you all been up to since 'Pressure'? Any major life developments?
Honestly, just utilising this required time off the best we can. Spending time with our loved ones and trying to come back the best version of ourselves possible. A couple of the boys got married, which is awesome… and oh yeah, we made the best Wage record to date.
How have you all found the past year or so of lockdowns and restrictions? Have you had any downtime to fill with new hobbies or the like?
Definitely a bummer of a time for someone like me who thrives around people, but we made it work. Me and my crew in Spring Hill took up baseball, barbecuing, fishing, and kayaking.
When did you start work on your new album?
I think I started the record August 2019 right around the time 'Pressure' came out. I'm kind of a workaholic, so I try to stay writing and inspired.
Did you have anything specific you set out to achieve with this one?
Same goal as always to write the best songs we're capable of. I've said this before, we know we're a heavy band, and that will never cease to exist, and I think we really embraced that in how we approached songs. The vocals are always the most important part to me, but making sure it's wrapped up in the right package is half the battle. Also, tried to take it to 10 on riffs.
How has your process of creating and releasing an album changed since your debut? Does it feel very different?
We've kind of always had the same process. I write and demo out a majority of the songs and bring them to the guys and then get everyone's input until we have something we're all fired up about.
What can you tell us about how the new one sounds, is 'High Horse' representative of the general vibe?
I would say that it is; I think it harnesses a lot of the energy and production that is displayed throughout the album.
What lyrical themes does the record cover? Where did you look for inspiration?
The album is all based around headspaces and experiences from last year. I always look at albums like yearbooks, and this album is exactly that.
Did you hit upon any unexpected challenges when putting it together? Pandemic aside, of course.
We definitely did. We all live in different cities now, so that's kind of a new challenge, and then we did this album a little different.
We did split up the album between producers. We did six songs with Drew Fulk and five songs with Jeremy McKinnon and Andrew Wade, which was an awesome experience but definitely a new one.
What would be the best compliment someone could give you upon listening to the album?
At the end of the day, we just like writing music people can relate to. If someone can listen to this record and feel like they got something out of it or maybe feel like they're not alone in whatever they're going through, that's a big win to me. On the musical side, I hope that people can't help but make stank faces and can't help but headbang because I feel like the riff is just endless! Haha
How are you set up for live dates? Are you touring?
Yes! We've got a lot planned for next year. Making up for lost time! As far as what's announced at the moment. We're heading in the States with Beartooth as well as a couple festivals; we've got Shiprocked top of next year, and then headed out with our BOYS in I Prevail are headed out in UK/ Europe in the spring!
Is there anything else we should know?
We're just so thankful for everyone that's supported us this far. It's not something we will ever take for granted, especially after this year. We made a record we are so proud of and one I think they will be proud of too. The best is yet to come. We'll see y'all soon!
Taken from the October issue of Upset. Wage War's album 'Manic' is out 1st October.
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