Interview with Telle Smith of The Word Alive

untitled (511 of 1099)Music Notes Reviews had the chance to catch up with Telle Smith, frontman for The Word Alive, at the end of their tour with The Devil Wears Prada about their album Real, the recording process, and what they want to carry into the next record and when fans can expect that record! Check out what he had to say!

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How’s tour been going so far?
Tour’s been awesome, the Zombie 5 has been a fun one. We only have either five or six shows left including today so we’re wrapping up and we’re having a great time.

Based off your setlist from previous nights it’s a very mixed setlist from new and old albums—you’re only playing two songs off of Real. What made you want to go with such an older set?
Prada doing the Zombie 5 thing was a big influence on that because our album Deceiver is also five years old so normally we would play more new songs. Our last tour was a headlining tour and our next tour is a headlining tour so we’ll play a bunch of new songs. For this one we felt like it would be good; we felt like there would be some older fans coming out, people that may not have even heard Real maybe people who haven’t seen our band since 2010-2011 so lets give them more of a mix. We always want to create a solid setlist but its very hard when you have over 50 songs and can only choose 6 or 7. We tried to split it up evenly.

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You said song selection is a bit difficult, how did you decide on the ones for the tour?
Some of them we know we’re going to play. We knew we were going to play “Life Cycles”, we knew we were going to play “Glass Castle” and “Play the Victim” and then we knew we’d play “Entirety”. Four of the songs were already set so we were picking between what other song we wanted to play off of Deceiver and what song off of Life Cycles we were going to play to retain some of the older feel. We picked “Dragon Spell” and “Hounds of Anubis” because they’re like a part one and part two. We picked them because “Hounds” is the first track off of Deceiver, “Dragon Spell” is the first track off of Life Cycles and “Play the Victim” is the first track off of Real so we did the starter songs. We didn’t have anymore time so we had to roll with those.

Of the songs on your setlist which is your favorite to play and why?
“Play the Victim” is my favorite to play. I think it is overall our favorite song and it gets, I would say, the second best crowd reaction every night. “Life Cycles” gets the loudest singing for sure and on most nights it’s the rowdiest but I’d say “Play the Victim” and “Life Cycles” are pretty close.

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Real is almost a year old now, has it been everything you hoped it would
Yeah! I’m glad the bigger songs are the bigger songs. I wish there was enough touring to play all of the songs we want, but the reality of every album is that there are songs that we’ll never play. It’s sad because I wish there was a way to change that, maybe we will one day. I’m excited because the new songs are getting as good, if not a better, reaction than any of the songs we’ve had in the past. To us the live show is the most important thing so it’s been great.

Are there any songs on the album that really stood out or hit a chord with fans that you didn’t expect?
Not really, no. I feel like the ones that did were the once we thought would for the most part like “Lighthouse” “The Runaway” “Play the Victim” “Glass Castle” because it reminds fans a little bit of Deceiver. The one I hear that people like that we may never play, and it sucks because its my favorite off of Real is “Collapsing” the last song. It’s a more upbeat version of “Astral Plane” in a way. But it isn’t a support tour song. It’s definitely a headlining tour song when you have your own production and lights and you can set the right mood for the song. Maybe we’ll play it at some point, I would really love to. That’s the one hidden gem I guess you could say off the record.

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What did you learn in creating Real that you want to carry into the next record?
What’s funny about that is I think we’ve learned more about what not to do than what to do. We definitely just need to with every album find ways of collaborating within our own band more and making sure that all five of us are involved and putting ourselves into the songs. I think that’s the best thing to do but it can be hard sometimes when you have five people who are all musically inclined and all opinionated, it can be hard finding that balance but I think we’ll do even better the next time around?

You mentioned learning a lot of what not to do, what do you want to change?
One, I think when we’re recording and writing our openness to other ideas from each other will be better. I think music is a difficult thing because it is so emotionally connecting that when you’re playing a part sometimes you get too connected to something but it may not be the best part for the song, or for the section, or maybe it just isn’t good. Once you play something enough it gets drilled into your head and you may not see that it isn’t the best thing. Our goal is just to make the best World Alive songs we possibly can. We’ll do a better job on the next one.

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Do you have any plans for the next one? Anything planned in the not so distant future?
I wouldn’t say not so distant. We’re definitely still riding off of Real. We’ve only done Warped Tour and the Get Real Tour in the states and now here. We’ll do four tours here in the states because we’re taking the summer off then we’re doing some overseas stuff. I would say we’re looking at a two year cycle for it which is pretty standard, so we’ll see. If we write some magic maybe it’ll be a little sooner.

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You have the Real Sick Tour coming up with co-headliner Chelsea Grin, what are you most looking forward to with that? 
For me just playing more songs. I hate having a very limited amount of songs that we can play. It’s hard because each of us have different songs that we want to play off of different albums. I think it’ll be a lot of fun to play more songs. It’s another short bill, there’s only four bands on it, which is nice. I think kids won’t get too worn out but they’ll still get their money’s worth. I’m really looking forward to it.


What do you think will be different about the tour other than the set times?
I think we’ll have even more of our fans, more of the diehard fans. Some people may love your band and want to see you but not want to come for just six or seven songs. Some people don’t have that much money so they’d rather save and wait to see you play more songs, and I totally get that. For me, just as a fan of music myself I love seeing my favorite bands headline. I feel like that’s where you get the full experience of that band so I think more of OUR fans will come out.


How will it work next tour with who’s headlining?
It’s rotating each night. It’ll be the same set regardless of whether we play second to last or last, and the same with Chelsea Grin.

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Anything fun in the works for that like guest vocals?
Maybe, I’m not sure. If anything I think we may do something with Chris from Like Moths to Flames. He actually back in 2011 filled in for me for like 9 shows when I got super sick. We’re really close with them so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some collaboration with them throughout the night but I think the biggest thing is that the rooms are made to be small and intimate and crazy. I’m just looking forward to crazy show.

Do you have anything to say to fans?
Please pick up our album Real on iTunes or listen on YouTube if you don’t have the money but please come out a show and hang!

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