Interview: We Came As Romans on ‘Tracing Back Roots’ and working with John Feldmann

Interview with guitarist Joshua Moore | By Tony Shrum

Release after release, We Came As Romans has continued to step their game up. Having John Feldmann’s fingerprints all over their newest album, Tracing Back Roots, doesn’t hurt in this continued ladder climbing, with what most would consider their greatest work to date. We talked with guitarist Josh Moore prior to the band heading out on their Tracing Back Roots Tour (dates here).

Tracing Back Roots has been out a couple months now. How has the response been on this release compared to the previous ones. I imagine We Came As Romans has become a rolling stone, constantly picking up speed.

The response has been great and I am so happy about that. I love the album so much and I’m so glad our fans have showed the same emotion towards it. We leave tomorrow on the Tracing Back Roots headlining tour and I’m so stoked to be playing a lot of songs from the new CD.

On the title track, you say, “Eight years ago I committed a sin.” What is this in reference to?

It’s in reference to the very start of the band. Our original line up was formed 8 years ago, with Dave and I playing guitar and other old members. On Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be, in the first track, there is a “six years ago…” line and on To Plant A Seed there is a “four years ago…” if you want to dig a little deeper!

There’s such a consistent sound with each release you put out, there’s no major changes in sound yet there’s a constant progression, whether it be the maturing of the vocals or the developing musicianship. Is this something you aim to do – slow and steady wins the race? Is WCAR the tortoise or the hare?

I would like to think we are a hybrid. I think a band that is the hare would get real big, quickly but then would fade out real quick too, and a band that is a tortoise wouldn’t evolve enough to keep fans happy.

Meghan Daughdrill_ We Came As Romans-13
Photo by Meghan Daughdrill

This is the first time Dave sings clean vocals on a WCAR album. How come he hasn’t prior to this release?

It just wasn’t the right fit for us prior to this CD. Working with John Feldmann really helped Dave find what he wanted to do with his voice, melodically.

A lot of people are saying this album is front-to-back your best thus far. What do you think this is attributed to?

Hopefully, every CD we write will always be better than the last. And hopefully there is this constant evolution in songwriting and a constant “honing of skill” in terms of writing. That’s always the goal, to get better and always move forward.

Do you think working with John Feldmann had a major impact on how this album turned out?

Definitely had a major impact and I loved working with him. I can’t wait to continue to work more and more with him in the future. He was tons of fun to be around and is amazingly talented.

What specific elements did Feldmann want you to push forward and capitalize on?

Primarily just writing better music. Making sure every part was awesome. We even stepped into new boundaries and wrote some songs without any screaming.

It seems the themes of hope and hopelessness battle back and forth on Tracing Back Roots. The song titles themselves hint at that – “I Am Free” vs. “Never Let Me Go”, “I Survive” vs. “Fade Away” and a battle within itself on “Through the Darkest Dark and Brightest Bright.” Was this done on purpose? Is there a conscious push-pull dynamic to the album?

I think that that is just the ebb and flow of life. It’s always a battle to be where you want or get where you want and our songs always deal with real life situations and how to get through them.

You had the entire summer to perform the new material on Warped Tour. Did you use this as a platform to feel out a good set list for future touring, or was it finely tuned prior to hitting the road on Warped?

We had our set list figured out well before Warped Tour because our album singles hadn’t even been released yet, but this set list for our headliner is very finely tuned and I’m so excited for it.

We Came As Romans - Vans Warped Tour Atlanta 2013
Photo by Meghan Daughdrill

Going from a huge festival to clubs and smaller music venues, do you have to change your live performance at all – song choices, crowd control techniques, etc?

Definitely change song choices because we have such a longer set. Warped Tour was 35 minutes and our next tour it’s double that time. I like playing more songs.

I think last time I talked with you guys was around this time either last year or the year before and you were going to be on the road for the holidays. I know it always sucks being away from home during holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but over the years have you become more accepting. or coping better, with being away?

We’ve definitely learned better coping mechanisms for the downsides of touring. Our second CD, Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be, is basically the story of that.

Thanks for talking with us. Before we go I need you to settle a New Noise office debate. If you had to choose only one show to watch, which would it be – Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad?

I actually haven’t had time to watch either, I don’t get to watch a ton of TV. But my favorite shows are Fringe, Criminal Minds, and Mad Men.

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