It’s not an understatement to say that Wall of Sound’s Journey with Cody Quistad of Wage War goes a long way, and we’re really proud to see how far the band have come ahead of their fourth studio album MANIC. We spoke with them in 2017 ahead of the release of Deadweight, in 2019 ahead of Pressure, and even had a chat backstage in 2020 on the Polaris Tour in Brisbane!
Well, fast-forward to 2021, add in a pandemic and a crazy world and we’ve caught the rhythm guitarist/clean vocalist to talk about MANIC, a fitting album title after the past little while.
Wage War have been bursting through the metalcore scene and climbed their way to the top in the last few years, with fans hanging for more new music. Ahead of the October 1st release of the new record, the band have unleashed a few monster singles unto the world, namely ‘High Horse’, ‘Circle the Drain’ and just recently, ‘Teeth’.
We got the low-down from Cody, as we always do, but before we got into the new album, we had to hear what it was like to be on a real-life tour, across a country, without interruptions – mind-blowing stuff currently. At the time he was in New York, sharing how unreal it’s been.
“It feels like the first show as a band again, and we’ve been playing shows together for almost eleven years”, Quistad says, ridiculously. “For the first show I was most nervous so far, I had actual anxiety in my chest that just kept cranking, but we got through it.”
It’s an understandably nerve-wracking time as bands recommence COVID-normal touring with vaccinations on the rise. The anxiety would certainly come in when seeing reports of bands on tour with members getting COVID and being super-exposed – just take a look at KoRn with both Jonathan Davis and Munky recently impacted.
But it’s all worth it for the outcome. “It’s been special to see the people that are coming to these shows – the fans, you know they went through a lot of pain, and a lot of darkness last year and I feel like we’re seeing a lot of the release and escape from that with these shows. It makes me happier than anything else.”
Nonetheless, Wage War are seen as guinea pigs on the touring circuit at the moment. “From what I understand, I think we are one of the first metal / metalcore tours to be out and when we finish this whole thing, I feel like it’s going to be possible to have safe touring,” the singer says, alluding to how well things have been going. He hopes for Australia to get to experience this soon, too.
On MANIC, Quistad assures the band have given it their all. “I think all five of us took the time we had in the middle of a pandemic and we worked really hard on songs together, and sonically I feel like we really pushed the boundaries and did some things that made us stand out.”
It’s no secret that the U.S. outfit set a high standard for themselves with the releases of Blueprint and Deadweight, and then they kind of took fans by surprise with the release of Pressure which sported more melodic components. It allowed Wage War to continue to grow their fanbase, however it may not have been many fans’ favourite record of the band to date, in proportion to the hype that the preceding albums created.
“Pressure came at a time where we had a very small amount of time to do the record,” he says, alluding to Pressure not being as perfect as he’d have liked. “I don’t regret anything that we’ve ever done but sometimes we learn lessons, but we’re very proud of Pressure and I think it has some of the best Wage War songs that exist.”
That being said, MANIC brings something for everybody, and Quistad wants the world to know it. “There are songs for the new fans and also the old, but then there’s some brand new stuff that I feel like I’ve never heard bands do before.”
It’s energising to hear the excitement in the Nashville musician’s voice, as he thinks that this album is quintessential to Wage War, and he even thinks it could have arguably been their self-titled record, signature Wage War, if you will.
With the three singles the band have revealed thus far, there’s certainly diversity across the songs, and it may leave some chin-scratching curiosity of what the full record will hold. Quistad daydreams of fans’ reactions to MANIC, which may grow your anticipation even further. “I just think about people listening to the album for the first time ‘cause it’s got a first song called ‘Relapse’ which is out of the gate heavy, like classic ‘Wage War’.”
“There are songs on this record with big riffs, big choruses, and you’ve got breakdowns that are never ending.”
Quistad suggests we may hear songs that sound like the anthem ‘Stitch’ which is the perfect mix of heavy and groovy.
Regarding the excitement of the band’s upcoming LP, it begs the question of how relevant the album is in the pandemic-driven year of 2021, an era of streaming, clicks and abundance of new music. Many of Wage War’s peers and beyond heavy genres have ditched the LP, and slotted in the EP.
“I think the last five to ten years has had amazing music consumption. Those years have been everchanging and honestly, I’m here for it. As someone who likes to write a lot of music, I love constant music. I think it makes sense to do singles. The top artists in the whole world are just continually pumping out content.”
The singer/instrumentalist is all about the new era of music releases, but also appreciates the shared decision-making aspect of how music gets released. You’ve got a whole band to decide, you’ve got the label and others. However, “it excites me,” Quistad explains. “It’s something that I would certainly love to adapt to.”
He flips the perspective too though, and rhetorically begs the question whether fans would want to give up those ten track albums, and lose the rarity of LP releases across two-year cycles.
“There’s something really special about putting together a work of art, ordering them in a certain way, same with the line notes; that all of that stuff is still very special to me.”
Wage War are certainly not opposed to putting out EPs/singles moving forward, and it may be something we could see from the metalcore maestros.
Another cultural movement worth mentioning has been the notion of #NewMusicFriday,
thanks to streaming. We all wake up on Friday mornings (or stay up late on Thursday nights) to see what the world of heavy music is delivering us this week. As much as we love the movement, it can also dilute a band’s very special release. This might be why Wage War have been mixing it up this album cycle, and have been dropping a couple of singles on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
“The label may ask us how we feel about say, a Tuesday release and we’d often say that we’re fine,” suggesting it may be more of a label decision to deviate from Fridays sometimes. “As a big music fan in general, Fridays are my favourite day of the week. I live in Nashville, which is an hour ahead of Eastern Time so I get music at 11PM my time so I always feel cool because I get to hear new music a little early.”
Take it from us Aussies at Wall of Sound on the eastern seaboard – you have no idea how cool we feel getting up on a Friday morning and delivering new music to the rest of the world.
Well, whether you consume Wage War on Tuesdays or Fridays or Summer or Winter, you’ll probably share this sentiment – you’re ready for borders to open and for an Australian MANIC tour.
“Yeah, we’ve already been talking about that plan, so we’re just waiting for a good situation for everybody. We’ll definitely be over there. We had such a great time last time we were there with Polaris, and Alpha Wolf, you guys literally have some of the best bands in the world.”
Interview by Ricky Aarons (@rickysaul90)
Wage War – MANIC tracklisting:
4. High Horse
5. Circle The Drain
8. Slow Burn
9. Never Said Goodbye
10. True Colors
11. If Tomorrow Never Comes