Chances are, when you think of Dallas, Texas, there are a few things that come to mind: Cowboys, Mavericks and conservative politics for instance. Rising Dallas six-piece Crown The Empire are doing their darndest to add metalcore to that list.
Off the back of their July release The Resistance: Rise Of The Runaways, Crown The Empire will head our way early next year. In contrast to The Fallout, the band’s 2012 debut, The Resistance pushes everything to the extreme. The choruses hold TV commercial potential, the breakdowns smack like a keg of Guinness to the head and the quiet moments are decidedly melancholy.
“We don’t want to restrict ourselves to a specific type of song,” says one of the band’s two lead vocalists, Andrew Velasquez. “There’s so many bands who have a great song and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is kickass, let’s see what the rest of the record’s like,’ and it’s the same song over and over again. We didn’t want that at all.”
The Fallout was written when the band members were still in high school. Motored by the blessed spirit of youth, the record hinted at plenty of potential for Crown The Empire, but it wasn’t a fully realised product. When it came to The Resistance, they applied extra effort to make it a multi-faceted experience.
“With The Fallout we had, like, a month to do it all and with The Resistance we had three months to do everything,” Velasquez says. “Everybody has different musical influences in the band. Now that we had the time and the resources to do it, there are so many different types of songs on that album. It goes from one end of the spectrum to the other, where it’s down and heavy riffs and straight screaming to a piano ballad, a love song.”
Adopting a genre-snubbing attitude requires a certain amount of fearlessness. However, that’s not to say the creation of The Resistance was devoid of anxiety. “Going into it, we had the fear in us,” Velasquez says. “It’s the second record – everybody puts out a second record and the general consensus is that it’s hated by a lot of people. People will be like, ‘Oh, they changed their sound, they’re so mainstream now,’ or ‘I like their first record best.’”
Despite such imposing thoughts about how The Resistance would be received, the band was ultimately able to satisfy its own creative agenda. “There was a fear and there was a stress, but we were able to use the stress in a constructive way to make our album the best we possibly could,” says Velasquez. “Once we got to that point where it was wrapped up, we were confident. We were like, ‘OK, this is the best thing we could’ve possibly put out and we know this.’
“Luckily, the reception was awesome,” he adds. “We got to number seven on the Billboard Top 200, we got the number one rock album in the country. It was awesome. That was a weight off my shoulders.” Speaking of difficult weights to bear, Crown The Empire is a widely collaborative venture. Combining six creatively active personalities is basically a recipe for disaster. Add to this the band’s studio-only seventh member, and you must wonder how the band keeps from imploding.
“At the end of the day we’re all working towards the same goal,” Velasquez explains. “We all want this band to be as successful as we can possibly make it. We want as many people to hear the record as we could. It’s not easy telling your best friend, ‘Yo, this part sucks,’ but we all have the same goal in mind, and we manage to fit a lot of everyone’s ideas into it. It’s the dynamic that makes us who we are.”
Scoring a deal with Rise Records not long after forming, touring has more or less been a full-time commitment for Velasquez and his band mates since they finished high school. Sending six excitable youngsters out on the touring circuit seemed fated to wind up in a haphazard mess. Unfazed, the 20-year-old Velasquez says they’re actually fairly relaxed. “We all manage to keep ourselves level-headed. We’re strong with each other. We definitely do get down, but it hasn’t been an issue. Nobody is doing some crazy shit.”
Crown The Empire are headed our way next year for Soundwave, a festival that regularly juxtaposes a giant crop of rising acts with a bunch of accomplished elder statesmen. Rather than feeling competitive, Velasquez says being surrounded by stacks of crusading musicians is an impetus to better his own craft. “When you’re playing a show and you watch the band that plays before you putting their heart and soul out on that stage and trying to appeal to everyone, it gets me pumped. I can’t sit still at a show. If I could be in the crowd, I would be in the crowd with everyone else.”
After visiting for last year’s Warped Tour, Crown The Empire are thrilled to be coming back “Down Under”, especially for an event as prestigious as Soundwave. “I remember seeing all the rosters previously and just being like, ‘Wow, what an opportunity it would be to do that.’ They brought us over, maybe to test the waters to see how we did the first time, and luckily they’re bringing us back. So we’re excited to be there.”