We’re pleased to bring you the exclusive stream of We Are The Union‘s new track “Call In Dead.” The song is taken from the band’s upcoming EP, Keep It Down, out May this year through Paper + Plastick Records. The band have answered a few question for us. Check those out below the stream.
To promote the release of the EP the band will embark on a short tour, including a performance at Bled Fest.
Wow, so err… It’s been a while! Remind us why you took the break in the first place and what have you all been up to while We Are The Union has been on hold?
We stepped away from the band because we felt like there wasn’t really a place for us in the current music scene. It felt like we were just driving in circles around the country and there was nothing to show for it. We had no growth, no income to speak of, and as we hit some financial struggles, it became increasingly frustrating to be passed up for touring opportunities time and time again. It seemed like no matter what we did, we were almost doomed to fail. It sucks to be that negative, but that’s where we were at.
I’ve been working on several solo projects, including Home Haunt, which is pop-punk along the lines of Jimmy Eat World and Punchline. I’ve also relocated to Los Angeles, and that’s been amazing so far.
Why did you decide that now was the right time to “comeback,” so to speak?
We honestly didn’t. I just realized there’s never going to be such a thing as a “right time” for a ska band in the near future, and I figured we might as well make some music and play shows. I brought it up to the guys when we had our IRS issues back in 2014, and they were all into it. As long as it stays fun, we’ll keep at it. It’s funny, we’re so much less concerned about “being successful,” and it’s really freeing. If people care, that’s great, if not, we’ll just make the songs we want to hear and not let it bug us. I like to call this comeback our middle finger to the world.
I know that there is now some distance between you guys with you (Reed) being based in LA and the rest of the guys back in the metro-Detroit area. Has the songwriting process altered now that distance is a factor?
This EP was actually written before I moved, so it wasn’t really an issue, but I’ve been doing the vast majority of the songwriting myself for a few years now. There are two exceptions to that on this EP – “The Kings Of Chords,” which Brandon and I wrote the instrumental for in like an hour at his house, and “My Whole Life Is A Dark Room,” which Ricky, Brandon, and I came up with together. We wanted to write a song that sounded like Smash-era Offspring mixed with Bad Religion and No Trigger. Of course, we had to have Ricky shred like a wildman to kick off that song.
What typically happens during the creation of a We Are The Union song is I’ll put together the song’s chords or main riffs, arrangement, lyrics, vocal melodies, and the main instrumental hooks. Then the rest of the guys take that and build on it. Ricky and Brandon work really well together at filling in the gaps and fleshing the skeleton out into a proper song. I tend to go really simple, so their ability to jump in and create a real bassline and add lead parts that counterbalance my vocal melodies helps dramatically. Since the songwriting process has always been sort of compartmental like that, I don’t think it will change too drastically going forward. Time will tell.
You’ve including a cover of “Burnout” (originally by Green Day) on this EP. Were you actively seeking to cover a track on this record or did this come about more organically?
It was just a spur of the moment idea during the last day of pre-production. We worked out the arrangement on the spot, made some slight stylistic changes, and started rehearsing. After we ran through the song maybe ten times, Roger Lima (Less Than Jake, who recorded the EP) came out of the control room and said “okay, drums for that song are done.” We didn’t even know he was recording. There’s no click track or any real drum editing on that song. Everything about it was totally in the moment, and I think it shows. I don’t think there’s a better fitting way to cover a song from Dookie than flying by the seat of your pants, so I’m very happy with how it turned out.
Lyrically, what or who were your influences on this EP?
Jason Cruz from Strung Out and Vinnie Fiorello from Less Than Jake are the two guys I always try to put my lyrics up against. I don’t want to say I try to compete with them, because I don’t think I’m on the same level as either one, but I always look to them for inspiration to push myself.
The songs on Keep It Down are far less serious than some of our previous work. My main focus was to write songs that are fun to listen to, so I wrote about things like an insane apartment party in 2007 that doubled as the Who We Are release show, not giving up on your dreams and the things that make life enjoyable, and telling a boss you hate to go to hell. I’ve had some terrible jobs in years past, so “Call In Dead” was a super cathartic and fun song to write.
You have a short run of dates towards the end of May including a performance at Bled Fest. What can we expect from We Are The Union for the rest of the year and beyond, both in terms of touring and writing/recording?
We’ll be doing just a bit more from now through the end of the year, but nothing I can spill the beans on just yet. We’re hoping to hit some more of the US as well as UK and Europe in 2016 as well.
There will definitely be more new music sooner than later. We had a fantastic time working with Roger Lima, and we’re eager to get back in the studio with him as soon as we can.