WHITECHAPEL guitarist Alex Wade recently spoke with RadioactiveMike Z, host of the Riverside, California radio station 96.7 KCAL-FM program "Wired In The Empire".
On the group's new album, "The Valley":
Alex: "We tried something different, and it seems like the majority of people are really responding to it in a positive way. It's really cool to be able to see that... [vocalist] Phil [Bozeman] has been very upfront about his childhood in the past. It's something that he has been writing about, but just kind of really touching on, since our album 'A New Era Of Corruption'. He had a really tough time growing up — his father passed away when he was a teenager, and after that, his stepfather got his mom addicted to drugs and all kinds of really bad stuff, and that's ultimately what led to her passing away. He lost both of his parents at a very young age, and I think it's something that's always been built up inside of him his entire life. I truly believe that the entire career of this band has been building to this point to where he can release a complete album and really talk about it in detail. In the past, he's been kind of vague about it and just touched it on a little bit here and there, but as we've gotten older and as we've matured more, he's really moved away from writing about things lyrically that don't mean anything to him... there is still some figurative stuff on this album, but most of it is very literal. A lot of the lyrics are taken straight out of his mother's diary that she had kept during that time in their life. It's very, very personal to him, which makes the album very personal to us as well."
On how the album was written:
Alex: "In a couple of other interviews, people were like, 'How did you feel about having to write music to a concept this heavy?' Figuratively heavy — like, heavy emotionally. The crazy thing about it is that we actually wrote all the music first. Obviously, in every record, there's parts that change here and there. Once lyrics are born and there's ideas for songs, the songs will end up changing a little bit, but the bulk of all of the material was actually written before Phil even started putting lyrics to it, because Phil doesn't really like pre-writing lyrics. He'll come up with ideas for songs, but he won't actually write lyrics until he gets the songs, because he puts the lyrics into the music as if it's another instrument. He layers it on there, and he lets the lyrics and his cadence of the words kind of play off of what the music is doing. I think that was really cool how that turned out, where we didn't even know that we were writing music for something so important, but yet it all ended up panning out as if we did."
On the album's musical diversity:
Alex: "As we're getting older, we're experimenting more with dynamics – not only within the record as a whole, but within the songs individually... We're just trying to give the listener the best experience that [we] can with our music, to be able to feel all different kinds of emotions. They can feel anger; they can feel sadness; they can feel happiness. I think that's really cool to be able to connect with another human like that through the art that we're making."
On introducing acoustic guitars into the group's sound:
Alex: "We've definitely put some layers of acoustics on things in the past, but we've never really had a full-on passage of acoustic guitars. I think with Phil's singing voice, which is undeniably good, I think that's something that we could experiment more with in the future."
On Bozeman's improved enunciation:
Alex: "I don't know if he does it on purpose, but I definitely would agree with that... He wants people to understand the lyrics. He wants people to know what he's saying, so he's going to make a point to enunciate as best as he possibly can. In my opinion, I think that's what makes him one of the best metal vocalists in the game, because there's not a lot of guys that can produce that kind of power from their voice but still keep it clear. Most guys, when they try to go that hard and that low, it just sounds like a bunch of garbled mess... He's the ultimate package, in my opinion, in a vocalist. He can literally do anything. We joke about how he's like a renaissance man, because not only can he do all that, but plays guitar too. He wrote riffs, and he has written riffs, for our records. I think it's really cool to have a vocalist that can add so much to our music besides just their voice."
On the status of the group's vacant drum position:
Alex: "For us right now, it's not important to add another member. It's been the five of us for the past 13 years, to hold a member slot in the band, I think, is something that as we go forward with our future, we're not just going to give it to anybody. Right now, we're just hiring people to come play drums for us live, because that's all we really need. We can get what we need done in the studio, and we really just need somebody to come up and kill the drum set behind us in a live situation. I'm really excited to get out there with some fresh blood."
WHITECHAPEL's seventh full-length album, "The Valley", was released on March 29 via Metal Blade Records. The disc was produced by Mark Lewis (CANNIBAL CORPSE, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER) and features artwork by Branca Studio.
The title of "The Valley" is a reference to the part of Tennessee's Hardin Valley (west of Knoxville) where Bozeman grew up.
This spring, WHITECHAPEL will co-headline the 2019 edition of the "Chaos & Carnage" U.S. tour with DYING FETUS. Support on the trek will come from REVOCATION, FALLUJAH, SPITE, UNCURED and BURIED ABOVE GROUND.