Refuse/

Blunt - - Feature -

Credit where credit is due, the six mem­bers of Crown The Em­pire are onto a win­ner with their cho­sen sound. A think tank of shady old mu­sic in­dus­try types must be kick­ing them­selves that they didn’t think to com­bine to­day’s pop­u­lar met­al­core with the break­out pageantry and pomp of vin­tage (yes, vin­tage) My Chemical Ro­mance be­fore the young sex­tet to­tally nailed the for­mula. Hell, “clean” singer (can we get rid of that term al­ready?) Andy Leo even has hints of Cute Is What We Aim For’s Shaant Hacikyan in his vo­cal de­liv­ery.

Crown The Em­pire have taken an­other leaf from the MCR play­book by delv­ing deep into the con­cept al­bum ap­proach; heady stuff for a band whose peers are con­tent to mix elec­tro squelches with open E chug­ging. The Re­sis­tance: Rise Of The Run­aways is the se­quel to the world the band first de­tailed on The Fall­out and as Leo says, was the only way they wanted to ap­proach their big fol­low-up.

“Our last record was a con­cept al­bum about the end of the world and people’s last mo­ments; what would you say to the ones you loved? It was a cool lit­tle story. We wanted to con­tinue that so The Fall­out was the set­ting and this new al­bum is the ac­tual chap­ters and acts. The run­aways are the fac­tion of people. A lot of people sur­vive in this waste­land, and they come to­gether against this op­pres­sive fac­tion that has taken over, who are the scare­crows.”

If this all seems a bit con­fus­ing, never fear as Leo says it will all make sense in the al­bum con­text. Which is handy, as con­fus­ing yourself while try­ing to cre­ate a record sounds like a recipe for dis­as­ter.

“We’ve al­ways – as a band – wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Leo ex­plains. “With all the dif­fer­ent in­flu­ences and the way we do things, af­ter do­ing The Fall­out and all the songs we ran with it, we wanted to do more as it’s this huge story. Per­son­ally, it’s a lot of fun writ­ing with a story in mind and mak­ing it work. It’s not a blow-by-blow nar­ra­tion, it takes the lis­tener to a cer­tain place.”

So what came first, the emo re­vival stylings or the will to cre­ate con­cep­tual mu­sic?

“When we first started, we were mak­ing songs just to get our foot in the door. It was straight met­al­core, there wasn’t re­ally any­thing to set us apart. Then we got signed and we had the sup­port to do what we re­ally wanted, some­thing that we were all re­ally into and stoked on do­ing.” As Leo ex­plains it, Crown The Em­pire pulled the clas­sic bait and switch – they were al­ways gun­ning for the big time.

“Let’s be real, the scene that we’re in and the group of bands that we’re a part of tend to get made fun of and it’s def­i­nitely over­sat­u­rated. We al­ways knew we wanted to be set apart from that, some­thing more worth­while.”

While the band ex­clu­sively worked with pro­ducer du jour Joey Stur­gis on their de­but, for the fol­lowup they also went with noted US rock pro­ducer Dan Korneff (Break­ing Ben­jamin, Paramore) for an en­tirely dif­fer­ent ap­proach. “Joey has a spe­cific sound, you can lis­ten to any of his songs and know that he mixed and mas­tered it,” Leo ex­plains. “Re­ally epic, big and quite syn­thetic. For this record, ev­ery­thing was real – drums, strings by the guy who has worked for Bey­once… It was a to­tally dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence to have these real in­stru­ments, real ev­ery­thing. It was su­per cool.” For a re­cently-turned 20-year-old mu­si­cian who has grown up with bands en­tirely us­ing dig­i­tal pro­duc­tion means, it’s in­ter­est­ing that Leo and his band­mates are so set on us­ing au­then­tic meth­ods of record­ing.

As he ex­plains it, “As mu­si­cians, ev­ery­one wants to have that ex­pe­ri­ence. Hon­estly, it just sounds bet­ter. The old school way is just su­per fun and some­thing we wanted to do as a band. The cool thing is we got to do that but then have Joey take it and pol­ish it, so it’s very big and heavy with his touch.”

Mu­si­cally, Crown The Em­pire have a lot go­ing on. And ac­cord­ing to Leo, their in­flu­ences come from every­where.

“There are guys lis­ten­ing to old school punk, tra­di­tional metal and Avenged Seven­fold. Then there’s My Chemical Ro­mance and 30 Sec­onds To Mars and The Devil Wears Prada. Ev­ery song is so dif­fer­ent on this record, we wanted to show that we can get heavy – straight scream­ing and break­downs – but also use piano and cello for bal­lads, acous­tic gui­tars and singing.”

Leo isn’t jok­ing – “Mil­lenia” could have slot­ted in seam­lessly on the sec­ond half of Pierce The Veil’s Self­ish Ma­chines while “MN­STR” is a crusher wor­thy of Mo­tion­less In White’s goth metal steez.

Leo continues: “We started this band three years ago and it’s been an awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing with all these scene bands. We lis­tened to lots of these bands as fans first of all. I re­mem­ber the first Ask­ing Alexan­dria record com­ing out and freak­ing out about that. I’ve loved ev­ery sec­ond of it but we do have plans in mind to tour with dif­fer­ent kinds of bands and see just how far we can go with our mu­sic.”

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