By Brian Tucker
Out Friday April 28th, He Is Legend returns with few on Spine farm Records following 2014’s stellar return with Heavy Fruit.
Making and touring behind that album re-energized the band and when it came time to make a follow-up the band sought crowd-funding to record it. The band toured the U.S. prior to it’s release with Norma Jean and currently are in Europe for three weeks.
You can read my article on the band at Star News and below is more of my conversation with singer Schuylar Croom shortly before the band left town.
You can purchase the new album at local record stores, the band’s MerchNow page, or via Amazon. few is out April 28th in CD, digital, and vinyl formats.
Are you on break from touring? Cross country touring for this leg. Where next?
Croom: We had three weeks off and we’re going to Europe next week. We’ll be there about three weeks, our fourth time.
Is there a noticeable difference between crowds in Europe versus the U.S.?
Yeah, definitely. European crowds, UK and Germany, they are more excited about American rock and roll. It’s something they don’t get to see all the time and are really appreciative when you’re over there.
Maybe we’re just more jaded.
I think we are more (jaded). You can see your favorite band in the bathroom of a Wal-Mart and over there it’s different. You’re not driving; you’re taken care of a little more because they know you’re out of your element. UK and Europe, going over there, it’s a heavy metal crowd. They’re so into that. They kind of gave us that with Sabbath, we all pay homage to Sabbath. I think it has more to do that with that, they appreciate rock and roll so much. It’s always really nice, we’ve never had a bad time over there.
We’re playing a big show there with Deftones and Thrice. It’s really cool to see that, playing with bands we grew up with, admiring and having followed their entire catalog. We’re stoked just to be on the same bill with them. We have some bands opening for us, doing a headlining run. We did this in 2014 with a lot less promotion than we have now and it went over without a hitch. Especially landing the day our album comes out. We get to Germany when the album comes out.
Is this a more “polished” He Is Legend record?
There was a lot more importance put on it because it was entirely funded by our fan base. It made it special, it made it something that fans gave us as a gift. It gave us the opportunity to take our time on it a little more, and really knuckle down and do what we want to do in the recording studio because we were calling the shots as a record label at that point in time. It wasn’t until recently that Spinefarm got involved, helping us get a worldwide release and some push behind it. That definitely helped out because we hit some speed bumps.
You’re in your second decade.
Yeah, man. This is our fifth studio album. It started off coming straight out of kitchens and jumping on the road. Looking back now, it’s insane to see that that people are still into it. We always knew we had kind of a cult following amongst new metal kids and kids who came with us along the way. We’re stoked about the way our band blossomed, to be doing it this far along in the game, I feel great about. We’re stoked to get up there and rock out for kids and they’re still stoked.
He is Legend has a new drummer?
Steve Bache left for school for Physics right after 2009’s It Hates You. We just saw him the other day. He’s got a baby now. He came out to the show at Columbia. Sam Huff played throughout the Heavy Fruit period and recorded on “few” but we amicably split ways.
(New drummer) Jessie Shelly has been playing professionally for almost a decade now, he’s kind of a road warrior and fits the bill really well. We’ve been writing a little more to get on the ball for what’s coming next. We’re fleshing out what we want to do as far putting out another album. It’s in the very early stages, writing with a drummer and fleshing out the ideas Adam Tanbouz has. Touring is what’s on our schedule right now but we’ve just been rehearsing and going over new ideas.
Denis DeSloge, did he play at the same time as Damona Waits?
He was in Damona Waits and a band with Logan (Tabor) and Brian (Obernesser) called Mood Mechanics. He started after the Damona Waits stuff and has been with us since Heavy Fruit. and was with us through few. He’s our dude, its crazy to think we didn’t know each other for this long. He’s a member, a chill dude. He does some back-up and shreds second guitar. He’s been with us for three years now, right there in the thick of things of it all.
You’re both powerful singers, crazy to think of you both singing together.
It’s fun, that’s when we knew when rehearsing with Denis. He would sing these harmonies I’d done and I’ve never had anyone sing harmonies onstage with me at all during the entirety of He is Legend’s career. When he joined the band it added this new element, it was very nice that it was something that he wanted to do. That came out so well, and live he’s got a great stage presence. That’s number one for me, obviously being a good player is one thing but him having such an amazing stage presence was next level. It kind of jumped the game for us. The same with Jessie, he has such charisma on stage. It’s a good fit.
Was making this album more humbling than any other record?
Oh yeah. It was nail biting at first and decide to sit back and not look at it (the crowd funding campaign). We budgeted out pretty well and watching the kids run with it, potentially mixing together the record label budget and a merchandise budget and all the stuff we would to put out a record on a label on your own.
The kids were very receptive to it and were down with getting behind us. It was humbling, the only word I can think of. You don’t know what to expect and we chose an ‘all-or-nothing’ plan where if we didn’t reach our goal we wouldn’t have gotten any money and would have to figure out how we would have made it fly. We went over our mark and it was shocking.
Why Spinefarm Records?
Our A&R guy at Spinefarm had been a fan for a long time. When it came down to figure out distribution we knew we needed a worldwide release date. We were asking advice of people that we knew, and they were really excited to see we had another record and wanted to put it out. Being over there (in Germany) when it comes out make a little more sense now because heavy metal does huge in Europe. We do well ever here too, it’s just a different kind of thing over there.
Was it easier to follow up this than Heavy Fruit? You made Heavy Fruit with a new band member following hiatus.
Usually the way our records are fleshed out is Adam has the skeleton of the idea and works through it with the drummer. But he already kind of knows where it’s going. It starts take life in the studio after that’s all laid down. We’ve had our format of how we write records together since we were in high school. He and I have been doing this this long and it’s a format we love to work with. It’s second nature by now.
Al Jacobs produced the new album at his Warrior Sound. Is the studio a lucky rabbit’s foot. You’ve recorded there several times.
(Our) last three albums have been recorded there. Al has been hands-on throughout. We just love it there. Its in Carrboro, it’s in the woods, kind of tucked away and secluded. We feel like we work best there and we get our past tones from that. I think that’s just where we want to be. Of course, we wouldn’t pass up working with Josh Homme out in the desert, but as for our comfort level if we have any choice we would go with Warrior. That’s where we like to go. It’s nice to be out on a horse farm and record and step outside and drink coffee. It feels like that’s where we’re supposed to record.
“Sand” is a powerful song, burns quick musically. Was it one of the first songs demoed?
Not really, when we have a handful of songs we think are going to be on an album, we try to write those radio bangers that have to be under a certain amount of minutes long. ‘Ear Treat” is what we call them in the studio. It wasn’t one of the first ones we demoed. It was one of the more interesting one that came a little later on. The time signature was so interesting.
Tracking vocals, it was one that I came to later in the game because that beat, the off-time, was so cool. Its like, what’s going to fit over this that’s not going to take away, that’s laid back? When we demo things out it’s usually as the skeleton grows and we softly start working on what its going to sound like. One little guitar bend can change an entire vocal structure or melody for me. It’s nice to lay back and watch the thing grow while we’re piecing it together in the studio.
You were a drummer, can you see how that influenced how you sing in terms of rhythm and delivery?
Absolutely. For me it’s the most important person in the group. I need somebody who smashes (drums) super hard behind (me) to get the energy going. That’s definitely my cadences; I usually play off the drummer a lot. I think that’s natural just having grown up on the drum line. I like to play around with that more so, more than someone trained in vocal styling’s would be.
A lot of singers were drummers first.
I think most people like me had to find a non-violent way to take out your aggressions and still get to smash things. I would bash the drums all day and feel good about when I walk away from it. The same as a show I guess, for me, that outlet of exerting a lot of energy, and getting it out. I’ve noticed that too. For me, if I wasn’t a front man in a band I would still playing the drums for sure.
When did you get your comfort zone as a singer and being onstage?
For me it as more about the performance. It was heavy metal, we had more melody than most. That wasn’t so much of a problem for me because I grew up singing; I was in chorus in high school for a year. My band leader and I didn’t get along so I dropped band my senior year and took chorus. I guess I just knew the path. I think more of it came from confidence from being on stage so long.
We had one record under our belt and went off the road and recorded our first actual studio album (“I am Hollywood”). We did some touring and went and did this and were touring ever since, except for the hiatus we took for a little while. Where my whole song and dance comes from is just from the confidence level being on stage and having people on stage in a rock band. You got to bring it and I think that’s 99% of the job.