Cody Quistad – Wage War ‘Addressing Industry And Career Pressures’
They’re one of the hottest metalcore bands right now and Wage War are releasing their new album Pressure on Friday, August 30th (our review here) which is the band’s third album and a much-awaited follow up to their very successful release Deadweight. We had some burning questions to ask guitarist and vocalist, Cody Quistad so we grabbed the man for a chin wag and a half…
Mate, how are you!
I’m doing so well, how are you?
I’m well, thanks. Look, I have to say a major congratulations because this is such a brilliant album, I’ve been so excited for so long but how have you been feeling? Excited? Apprehensive?
I think it’s a healthy mix of both, any time you put something new out you’re always waiting and wondering what people are going to think. But I think we’re all just so proud and confident in the album that I think excited is the term more than apprehensive. We’re so fired up about it, and it’s been a long wait since February when we did the record but I can’t be too mad about that cause we’ve certainly had much longer waits to release albums. So I think more than anything we’re just so excited.
This is your third full length, it’s titled Pressure and is that reflective of how you were all feeling after the success of your previous album Deadweight?
100%. The record was done for about 3 months until we thought of a title. It was on a 17 hour drive to Texas and we were sitting there talking about the record and what it means to us, and we had a list of about 20 names and I just kind of said ‘What about Pressure? Do you guys think that’s a pretty good title for it?’ When we talked about it, being in a band and doing this for a living, it’s such a risky career path just because it’s always fluctuating. And how you make a living doing it, whether it’s streaming services that don’t pay out the correct royalties to bands, or touring; everything revolves around this ever changing environment.
So yeah, I think there was pressure to make a great album but at the same time make an album that isn’t going to pigeon hole us into being one sound for the rest of our career. I think this is the perfect time to expand on the things we’ve done already and also try new things, and things that we’ve wanted to try for a while.
Originally when I was listening to the album I thought it was a lot more melodic than Deadweight, but actually it’s still super heavy, You’ve struck a great balance there and I think your melodic lines are always very well done. So between two very strong vocalists, who is the mediator?
We kind of go back and forth and find what’s right for our band. Briton steps up on this record and does some actual singing – normally he’s the guy who yells in the mic but there are some parts in this record where he stepped up and just said hey I got this. And I was like alright let’s go! He has such a different and unique voice from me that it adds a whole new element to our band that we’re excited to expand upon, and hopefully more so in the future. But I think you hit the nail on the head cause in some ways it is a more melodic record for us, but at the same time it’s something you can bang your head to cause it’s still got the riffs and the hardcore.
I think you’ve created a lot of atmosphere here as well, is that just a happy accident or is that something that you were really working on?
Yeah I think we’re all about that! We’re all pretty soft dudes, you know, we’re playing heavy music but I think we’re also in tune with our emotional sides and we like to write feelers. I don’t know why, but making music like that is such a fun thing. But we also just come from so many musical backgrounds and listen to so much different stuff that having chuggy guitars for a 35 minute album is cool, but we really wanted something dynamic and to create moments where if you come see us live you’re not seeing the same song 15 times. There’s different parts, there’s breaks, sing alongs, there’s mosh parts, I think that was all definitely planned.
You’ve said that lyrically, everything is from the heart, what themes came to light when you began writing this album?
The way that I’ve always done records is that I view them as yearbooks. You get this time stamp of this is what my life was like, you know, these are my friends and you look at the back and there’s all your notes are there. I think Pressure is a summation of the past two years of our lives. We had some great times and also a lot of low times, and the record touches on everything from mental health, to anxiety and depression, to just the way that people are to each other. You travel the world and see a lot of things that are great but also a lot of things that make you think why is this, this way? It really opens your eyes and makes you feel passionate about something. A lot of times, at least the way that I deal with things, is I open up my phone and write down what I’m feeling, and most of the time they turn into songs. Our number one goal is to come from the heart. I didn’t want to write anything that was fake or just plug a lyric in because it sounds cool. We want it to make sense, but we also want it to mean something cause I think our fan base really connects with our lyrics and that is what has made our band what it is today.
Producer Drew Fulk is an absolute wizard, and it was your first time working with him. How closely did the band’s view and Drew’s view of the album line up?
Pretty much 100% of the time! When we were choosing a producer for this album, Drew was in Florida where I’m originally from and we just met up for drinks one night, had a two hour conversation and I told him what we wanted and what my vision was for this record. He had listened to our band previously and was right on board with what we wanted to do. I think he was a great quality control in helping us not just resort back to what we would always do but would help us find a balance of what Wage War is and what Wage War was
I know that it’s hard to choose a favourite song, so I’m not going to ask you that, instead, I’d just like to know what other song you’d like to make a music video for and why?
That’s just about as bad as asking my favourite song! There’s a song on the record that’s called ‘Ghost’, and it is without a doubt the most aggressive song we’ve ever put out. It’s fast and it’s a good live song so hopefully we get one of those huge circle pits that go around the sound desk and get a good video out of that. But there’s a song called ‘The Line’ which I really like and I think good things are ahead for that, and a song called ‘Hurt’ that I love… I’m sorry I’m blowing this answer, but it’s hard at this point to see what’s going to be what. I’m just excited about it.
I do feel like there are always going to be some creative similarities between bands and songs and I can’t help but notice that killer opening riff in ‘Low’ shares some similarities with Architects song ‘Doomsday’. Are they a band you guys are inspired by?
Yeah, we definitely are Architects fans and this is actually the first time I’ve ever talked to anybody about this. So the story behind ‘Low’ is I wrote the riff a year before ‘Doomsday’ came out, so there was never at all a situation where someone was like, ‘here listen to this riff, lets do this and change the notes or change the beat’. I won’t lie and say that I’m not inspired by Architects, but the riff is fully original from my brain and was done before ‘Doomsday’ ever saw the light of day.
I’m a big fan of Tom Searle, rest in peace, and if my riff pays tribute to him I’m not going to be mad about that because he has absolutely been influential in who I’ve become as a guitar player. You know, I’ve never really given it too much attention, it’s a bummer but at some point with the way that heavy music works, there are going to be cross overs, whether it’s breakdown patterns or riffs, you know just because a riff is down tuned or tone filtered. But it is what it is. We’re Architects fans but that wasn’t a blatant rip, that was a riff that existed before that song ever came out.
Well we are absolutely loving what you’re doing and I personally can’t wait to see you guys live down here in Australia, maybe say for UNIFY 2020?
That would be sick! We are definitely coming back this year, it’s already on the books but I can’t talk about it yet. Really excited about what we’re doing over there and who we’re doing it with so it’s gonna be a smash! We’re fired up, it’s been a while.
Cody, we can’t wait to have you back down here. It’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you, thank you so much.
Thank you for having me.
Interview by Ebony Story
Pressure is out Friday, August 30th via Fearless Records.
Wage War – Pressure tracklisting
1. Who I Am
5. Me Against Myself
8. The Line
10. Forget My Name
11. Take The Fight
12. Will We Ever Learn
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