While I, The Breather were on tour with August Burns Red, I dropped vocalist Shawn a line the day after their new record, Truth & Purpose came out to talk to him about the new record, how the band has grown, and potentially where we might see I, The Breather in the future.
Hey man, how’s it going?
I’m doing all right; kinda had an awkward show. Tonight was a weird crowd.
Well it’s just like, you know, when you go to shows and the crowd is just there for one band and they only care for that one band.
Yeah, I’ve seen that happen a few times.
And they’re all the on the front barricade and on their phones during the set.
All right, you ready to start?
Yeah; is there any background noise?
Nah, you’re good. “Truth & Purpose” came out yesterday – what’s the meaning behind the album title? What’s the concept behind the album overall?
The album is based around a personal belief and how I view everything today and the way this world is going. People are focusing on the negative things in life instead of loving people and doing positive things. I just decided to come out and be myself and be afraid or being judged for my beliefs and my opinions on things. The “truth” is what I believe the truth is and then the “purpose” is why I’m doing this for everyone. That’s what we mean by Truth & Purpose.
Musically and lyrically, what are some of the personal things that had an effect on the outcome of this record?
I based it on a lot of personal struggles that I went through; losing people to diseases. I wrote a song called “4.12.11” that’s about my girlfriend’s mother that passed away from cancer. For a whole year, she constantly suffered. It’s hard for a Christian to go through that type of thing and wonder why that stuff happens to people. There are other songs about close-minded people, Christians, people like the Westboro Church who ridicules people cause they’re gay or different which I think is wrong. That song is about the meaning of life with what our purpose is (why are we here?) our goals in life, etc. Generally, all the songs are about what’s happened in day to day life and how to cope with things and get better at it and not focus on the negative things.
It’s more of an uplifting record, so to speak.
It’s not really a worshipping album, it’s more along the lines of “hey, we’re a Christian band and this is what we think and what we believe, how this world is going downhill because of all the negative things instead of focusing on the positive things.
Digging a little bit further, what song(s) were particularly hardest for you to write and why?
I can’t say that this album was hard to write. Before we went into the studio, we were on tour and I had a whole bunch of ideas for the album. I had all these different lyrics and right about when we’re in the studio, my life’s a complete turnaround. I chose to write about my life what was going on in it. I just wrote everything that came natural to me I didn’t have any struggles in the writing the album.
I just listening to the record and in my opinion, “False Prophet” and “Knights & Pawns” are two of Truth & Purpose’s strongest tracks. Can you give us the background of both of these tracks?
Knights & Pawns is a song about the American society; we’re pretty much all knights and pawns. We wake up, we work to survive and there’s not really any purpose. False Prophet is about people who are pushing beliefs down people’s throats. It’s pretty much about a person making money off the Christian industry and just doing it the wrong way and for the wrong reasons.
It reminds me of that song that Stray From The Path did; Prey.
I love that band, honestly. [laughs]
Are there any music videos that are coming out soon?
We’ll be working on it when we get home; it’s definitely in our agenda. We’re trying to get one out as soon as possible; just waiting on the right person to pitch the right idea.
Maybe you could have Robby Starbuck do it; he always does a bunch of videos.
I don’t know; that’s more for our label to decide.
How would you guys say you’ve grown as musicians just from the time-span between These Are My Sins and Truth & Purpose?
Honestly, we were a band for four to five months before we got signed. Our label is like “let’s get this album done; we want it finished by February. “ We were signed in December 2009 so we didn’t have that much time to grow as a group for that album. So, we made the decision go the heavy and aggressive route for that album and we stuck with it. It wasn’t a one dimensional record but it got out what we wanted it to; it never let go and that’s what we wanted. When it came around for this album, we had time to write it and think about it with different areas we wanted to approach. With this album, we were able to bring back old dimensions like with singing (which we had in our EP). We just chose a safe route with the first year of touring to steer away. It’s hard for a vocalist in the first year of touring to do screaming and singing. We tried to do a few things different music-wise with harmonies, different approaches, effects, like with different breakdowns, add a bit of an eerie touch to our sound.
Did you ever have lessons with Melissa Cross with the singing/screaming?
Honestly, I had never had lessons in my whole entire life; I was self-taught for singing and screaming. On this tour, I had started noticing a couple of things with my voice and Jake Luhrs from August Burns Red sat me down one day and was like, “I see the potential you have in your voice and if you do this, this, and this, you’re going to be such a better vocalist”. I owe the world to that guy for lending his time and giving me pointers on how to better myself. Out of all my years being a vocalist, he’s the one guy who taught me vocally
Are you guys playing Warped Tour, All Stars, or any other big summer festivals this year?
We got an offer for a fairly big tour this morning. I can’t announce it yet. I’d love to sit down and tell the world we’re playing it but I can’t. I’d love to though! [laughs]
Is it you played last year? I know you’ve played Scream The Prayer the last two years.
No, it’s a tour we’ve never played before. Generally, the same come out to STP every year and we’re looking to play to a different crowd. We want to reach as many people as we can.
What other bands do you see yourselves touring with in the future?
Well, we have that tour coming up with Upon A Burning Body; that’s exciting. As far as bands I’d love to tour with, I’d love to tour the UK with Architects (they’re amazing), an American tour with Born of Osiris (we did a little headline run with them awhile back which was really fun.) Generally, any bands that are in our area like Miss May I, Of Mice & Men. Any band that we’d fit well with would be cool to tour with.
Speaking of tours, do you guys ever see yourselves doing a headliner soon?
I would like to do a headlining tour by the end of 2012 but you have to be safe when it comes to headliners. Granted, every band wants to be a headlining band but you can’t just go out and headline. I feel that once we are a strong enough band to hold down an entire tour package, I’d love nothing more than that. I feel like by the end of 2012, we’ll be on that path
How has it been with the label for you guys? A lot of bands have been saying very positive things about the label, but some bands have also spoken negatively of it. Ash himself is very outspoken. How has it been working with Sumerian for you guys?
The thing with any label is that you have to do good for them and they’ll do well for you. I’ve heard some people bash them but if you don’t have a product for them that they think is going to benefit them, then it’s not going to help them and they probably won’t want to work with you. As far as us being a band, we very little experience in the industry and they took us in and molded us; which is unheard of from an indie label to do for a band. They have taken care of us thoroughly; I know there’s been a couple times when broken down on tour, and they gave us a van to use, free of charge, because we couldn’t afford renting a van. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better label.
Last question: What is one book AND one band that you’d personally recommend to anyone that listens to ITB?
I like angry vocalists. I love people that have purpose behind what they’re saying. There’s a band on our label called Stray From The Path which is one of the most passionate bands that I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s sad they aren’t up there where they should be. I feel that anyone that listens to our music would love that band. I’m not really a book guy but I love documentaries.