After yesterday’s much anticipated debut full-length release of Captors, vocalist/guitarist Stephen Cobucci took the time out to answer a few questions for us here at Mind Equals Blown. Cobucci goes over the formation of the band’s name, their favorite place to perform and of course, the best place to eat. So get to know Wolves At The Gate a little better, because they’re going to be around for quite some time.
On your debut EP, the opening title track “We Are the Ones” speaks directly to the name of the band. How exactly did you come up with the name?
When we first started the band, it took a couple months to come up with the band name. I really wanted our band’s name to be more than simply something catchy. Obviously that’s crucial for a band, but with most things regarding this band, I wanted to make sure that there was some depth to the name. The initial goal in forming this band was to write music that contained truths from Scripture and to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. In the summer of 2008 I was reading in Acts chapter 20 verses 24-30 and in this passage the apostle Paul was speaking with what was the first Christian church. During this time, the teachings of Jesus were very new as the completion of his work on earth had just been fulfilled by his life, death, and resurrection. This was a fulfillment of prophesies and promises from God all throughout history that He would send the one true Messiah to pay for the sins of the whole world as we can see in Isaiah 53. Paul was warning the first church that there will be many people who will seek to cast doubt into their faith in Jesus Christ. He describes these as “savage wolves [that] will come in among you and will not spare the flock.” This is a message of warning, yet also one of encouragement. And this is a reference of where we base one of the goals of the band. There are many people out there with a wrong perspective, negative viewpoint, or even no understanding at all about the person of Jesus Christ. Our culture has painted a picture of Jesus as just a good man, a martyr, a saint, or even a myth for that matter. But my hope and joy is to be able to shed light on the darkness that has fallen on the hearts and eyes of many. Jesus Christ is God. He was not just a man. He is our Savior and Lord. For all those who have a copy of our EP We Are the Ones, they will recognize the title track of the album sets the precedent of the band. We are not the wolves at the gate, we are the ones who face them.
One question I love to ask bands, simply because they always tell the crowd they’re with that they were the best stop on tour…where is your actual favorite place to perform and why?
Obviously this is a tough question for us to answer because we have played so many shows with awesome crowd responses. I’m going to give it a two-way tie because it’s the only fair way to answer this. It’s a tie between Alford Auditorium at Cedarville University and the Basement in Columbus, Ohio. Obviously both of these places are in our home state but the fans in both locations always blow us away with their energy. Even more so, every time we play these places the shows get bigger and the crowd gets rowdier. So rad.
What is your favorite track on the new record? Why?
“Man of Sorrows” is probably my favorite track for one purpose alone: it’s all about Jesus. It was one of the last tracks that I wrote for the album, mostly because I was the most afraid of it. I remember lying in bed one night, praying and asking the Lord for His grace to help me write a song about a literal account of who Jesus was and is. It was about 3am, I woke up quite restless, and immediately the Lord put the words and melody in my head for the whole intro of that song. I started writing fiercely as the lyrics were coming to me, grabbed my acoustic guitar, and just sang it a bunch of times that night. It was a really awesome time I had with the Lord where He simply brought me back to a passage in Scripture that has broken my heart, mended it, and strengthened it all at once which is Isaiah 53. This chapter is a prophesy of the coming Savior, who is Jesus, and all that He will endure to display the love of God to humanity. I love this song because it holds no apologies, has no metaphors, just an effort of mine to depict the life, death, and resurrection of our wonderful Savior and King, Jesus Christ.
Of all the bands you have toured with so far, whose company have you enjoyed the most?
Wow, again you are throwing us under the bus making us have to pick favorites (hahaha). It seriously has been a pleasure to tour with every single band we’ve been with so far although being able to tour with our best friends in Come Wind and The Orphan, the Poet earlier this year was just something we all have wanted to do for a long time. We all have grown up together as bands/musicians, learned how to play live music together, and learned life lessons together. Bald Eagle Tour 2012. Greatest tour ever made.
What other bands do you want to play with, hopefully in the near future?
We recently got to accomplish one of our goals which was to tour with Oh, Sleeper, a band we all have enjoyed for a long while. Hopefully we can have the chance to tour with bands such as As Cities Burn, Architects, My Epic, Underoath, Thrice (on a reunion tour), As I Lay Dying, Jimmy Eat World, the Foo Fighters, Taking Back Sunday, Coldplay…I could keep going but I will spare the readers.
Who came up with the concept for the video for “Dead Man”?
It was definitely a joint effort between the band and our directors (Nathan Lundquist and Jon Ringle). The original concept for the video came when we were on our way back from a tour; I was incredibly sick and was just praying about how we could communicate the message of the song best through a music video. I quickly fell asleep and had a dream about the basic plot of the video. When I woke up, I quickly wrote down everything I could remember and then shared it with the guys. We then started spitballing some of the details and once we were stumped, we took it to Nathan. Things then took off with the idea as Nathan and Jon have incredible minds in reference to communicating ideas visually. God definitely had His hand in how this video came to fruition and we are so blessed with how it was executed.
What will fans like about Captors?
For existing fans, Captors will have everything you loved about us before, yet it will be executed in a much more mature and focused way. For new fans, I think they will be drawn in by our balance of heaviness and melody. This album effectively showcases the diversity of this band and pushes the envelope of our creativity significantly more than before.
How was it working with Andreas Magnussen?
Andreas is an excellent engineer and producer who was able to help us get these songs to the places they needed to be. He has a great work ethic, worked really hard on each aspect of the record, and has that perfectionist mentality you want in a producer. I did all the pre-production myself before entering the studio and it was awesome to see Andreas listen to the tracks and already see the direction we wanted to go in. He paid attention to each tone and its purpose in the song. His advice was always very tasteful; he did an excellent job at making the record sound like us, and helped bring these songs to life. Spending hours upon hours with Andreas every day was a lot of fun. He has a really funny sense of humor, he’s a really kind person, and has all sorts of interesting and hilarious stories to tell.
What was the biggest difference recording the full-length, versus the EP and Demos?
Clearly We Are the Ones was an EP which in some ways limits a band although it was an awesome opportunity to provide listeners with a really focused product. We were blessed to leave the studio with the record we have in Captors. After the EP we really felt that we had so much more to give musically, lyrically, and sonically. This record as a whole will broaden the spectrum of what listeners can expect from us, whether [they’re] new or old fans. We are doing our best to carve out our own niche in heavy music instead of trying to fit into the general mold in heavy music today. It’s fun to me to try and push the limits of what the listener will deem as “heavy.” Our goal is to communicate a passionate message with passionate music – which I feel was communicated well on We Are the Ones – and it is exciting to know that our passion for the Gospel and music has only grown deeper. That aspect of our band is what has been attractive to fans so naturally we are excited to be able to hopefully inspire a deeper passion for Jesus in our listeners and to provoke intrigue in the listener who may not have given thought to a life in Christ. Captors definitely experiments with sounds, tones, and styles that our listeners have not heard before.
Any headlining tours in the foreseeable future?
Not that I foresee in the near future; we are totally fine being the openers for bigger bands. We just want to play to as many kids as possible, get in front of different mixes of kids, and stay active. A headline tour would be cool, but we all would much rather leave the headlining up to more seasoned bands.
Who in the band does the writing?
I [Steve Cobucci – singer/guitarist] write the core of all the songs as I write all of the lyrics and melodies. This generally works the best as we want to maintain a strong melody and purposeful structure to each song. I also want the lyrics, vocals, and music to work together in a way that establishes a clear and distinct feel to each song. In regards to the content of the songs, I always want our music to be biblical and for these songs to relate to people in all different walks of life. My desire is that people’s hearts may be changed to a life loving Jesus Christ as their Savior yet the irony is that before any of these songs are written, God works and changes my own heart about these different topics in the songs. I never want to write something and pretend that I am some expert on how to live life. These songs are essential points on a timeline of my life. Aspects of my own heart that God convicted me of, occurrences in my life that were painful yet how God brought me through it, passionate joys of His truth revealed to me, and also cries for all men to come to Jesus. These songs sing of my thoughts, passions, and desires for a God who has saved me despite all the wickedness of my life.
On the concept of staying power, what differentiates Wolves At The Gate from all the other Christian hardcore bands out there today?
We honestly aren’t very aware of the current scene of music, not out of snobbery but just because our tastes change. What I do know is that we know what kind of music we want to write and we know how we desire to deliver the message of the Gospel that God has written on our hearts. My aim for us is to be honest with our music, honest with our message, and transparent as people. I know a lot of the world thinks that Christians are fake, plastic, and judgmental. That is part of what motivates us to live upright lives. I know bands are watching us, promoters, sound guys, and fans watch what we do. My sincere hope is to paint a picture of Jesus that is biblical, honest, and accurate to my own heart as well. Musically our goal is to broaden the spectrum of what heavy music is today. To establish a mentality that heavy music does not have to follow what has traditionally been done and write honesty music.
What is your favorite thing to do on the road, aside from performing?
We definitely love to hit up the coffee shops to catch up on emails, read, and enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee. It’s one of those things that can always give you a little taste of home. We also like to stay active, some of us like to work out, toss the football/baseball around, I like to play soccer, and collectively we all love to play cornhole. We’ve spent many nights playing, yelling at each other, creating victory dances, etc…good times. We also love meeting new people, talking with fans is always interesting, and getting to know the bands that we tour with. So a future reference to bands we tour with in the future: we want to be your friends, hang out, talk about life, throw the football around, and eat some burgers after the show together.
Favorite place you’ve eaten at while touring?
It’s got to be Giordano’s in Chicago. We got the deep dish pizza there and simply fell in love. So good.